Tag Archive: tunnel


shadow walk phoenix arizonaShadow Walk, Phoenix, Arizona

Old School Gardener


Kawachi Fuji Garden - JapónKawachi Fuji Garden, Japan

Old School Gardener

Purple and Yellow tunnel sociedad argentina de horticultura

via Sociedad Argentina de Horticultura

Old School Gardener

gourd heavens

Old School Gardener

The Lime Walk at Arley Hall, Cheshire, an example of pleaching
The Lime Walk at Arley Hall, Cheshire, an example of pleaching

It’s that time of year when the summer growth of hedges – at least those that need to be kept in trim- is being cut back. Joe Sloley from Hintlesham has an interesting opportunity with one of his hedges:

‘I have a row of overgrown lime trees which originally formed a screen and which I want to cut back and pleach. Are limes suitable for this kind of training and what are the details of the method?’

Pleaching or plashing (an early synonym) was common in gardens from late medieval times to the early eighteenth century. It means the interweaving of growing branches of trees and shrubs to form a hedge, living fence or arbour which provides a strong barrier, shaded paths or garden features.  The word ‘plexus’ derives from the same Latin root word ‘plecto’, meaning to weave or twist together. This craft had originally been developed by European farmers who used it to make their hedgerows more secure.

 "Walking in a thick pleached alley in mine orchard" - William Shakespeare, 'Much Ado About Nothing'

Pleached Trees and an underlying Yew hedge ay Dipley Mill, Hampshire, via  Angus Kirk

Pleached Trees and an underlying Yew hedge ay Dipley Mill, Hampshire, via
Angus Kirk

Today the term tends to be used to refer to what might be called the process of creating a ‘hedge on stilts’ where (usually smooth-barked) trees have their lower side growth removed and the higher growth is pruned and trained to form a continuous, elevated hedge.

Limes can certainly be pleached: they have pliable growth, and the shoots rapidly grow long enough to be woven in and out. Once the trees have been cut back to the height you require, the lower part of the trunks should be cleared of side growths. Then attach horizontal canes or wires to the trunks and across the gaps between the trees. Allow new shoots to grow out sideways; any which grow forwards or backwards should be pruned out completely. The side shoots are tied to the canes/ wires and when plentiful enough are interwoven with one another. As the shoots mature into branches, the canes or wires can be dispensed with and new growth trained amongst the old.

Pleaching in process

Pleaching in process

Tilia (lime) is the most commonly used tree for pleached walks; usually the red-twigged lime (Tilia platyphyllos ‘Rubra’).  Ash, beech, chestnut, hornbeam and plane can also be pleached, as can apples and pears. These can often be obtained ready trained.

Laburnum and Wisteria are favoured for pleached arbours and covered walks, especially tunnels, which show off the attractive flowers perfectly.  Use Wisteria grown from cuttings or raised by grafting, as it will flower more reliably and uniformly than seed-raised plants, and Laburnum x watereri ‘Vossii’ is a better choice than seed-raised L. anagyroides.

If you want to start a pleached hedge, select young, whippy plants that are more easily trained. Plant these out in winter and during the early years also prune in the winter when the plants are leafless and dormant. Train and tie new shoots in over the summer. Once pleached trees have reached their full extent, prune in the summer, pruning to shape the new growth and reduce the tree’s vigour.

Here’s a fascinating example of how pleaching could be used to ‘grow homes’!


Further information:


RHS guide to pleaching

Pleaching- the art of taming nature by Jardin Design

See through boundaries

Healthy Hedges with Crisp Edges

Old School Gardener

PicPost: Vine View

A metal arbour with a rambling rose

A metal arbour with a rambling rose

Arbours and pergolas can be important elements in a garden, adding visual interest, especially height, and functional value as shading or seating.

Arbour used to refer to an orchard, garden or lawn, but today its use tends to be limited to  a leafy glade or bower shaded by trees, vines, shrubs, etc. – especially when trained about a trellis. More precisely ‘a shady garden alcove with the sides and roof formed by trees or climbing plants trained over a framework’ (Oxford English Dictionary).This alcove may often contain a seat.

Pergola  is the term given to a horizontal trellis or framework, supported on posts, that carries climbing plants and may form a covered walk, though sometimes it is also used to describe the same sort of structure as an arbour. Today pergolas are also used to provide an overhanging structure for an entertaining/ dining area such as a patio or terrace.

So why have these structures? 

  • Provide privacy and shade

  • Divide up areas of the garden or/and provide an interesting route along a pathway or focal point

  • Provide support for plants

  • Provide a decorative structure 

A flower-covered pergola in the Canary Islands

A flower-covered pergola in the Canary Islands

A painted wooden arbour

A painted wooden arbour

Here are seven tips to make the best use of these structures in your garden:

1. Right design the design of the structure needs to complement the overall style of the garden, whether ‘cottage’, contemporary or classical etc. The use of curves or straight lines in the design can be especially important here, with curves flowing more easily in a romantic, informal style and straight lines often better in more formal settings.

2. Right materials whether wood, metal, brick or stone or a combination of these, it is again important to complement other materials in the garden/house and reinforce and harmonise with the overall style.

3. Right construction – a solid installation as well as overall design is important to ensure the structure is stable in winds etc. Once the structure becomes laden with foliage it can act as a significant wind barrier so needs to withstand the forces this will bring.

4. Right plants – again the choice of plants to climb over your arbour or pergola is important both as a way of reinforcing the garden’s style and because of the implications for ongoing maintenance – a vigorous rambling rose like ‘Kiftsgate’ could become a night mare unless you are prepared to prune and tie it in at the right time of the year. Choose plants with the ultimate height/length that is suitable for the structure or you could find that the structure looks under planted or alternatively is overwhelmed with foliage.

A modern metal pergola

A modern metal pergola

5. Right position these structures need to be placed within the garden – possibly to provide a focal point and informal seating area away from the house (arbour), an interesting tunnel through which to walk within the garden, so ‘framing the journey’ or alternatively close to the house over a patio (pergola). They also need to be positioned to gain the right level of light and shelter for the plants you envisage growing up them. And if you have an arbour with a seat think about what view you want to be looking at from it.

Pergola- the Old Vicarage, East Ruston

Pergola- the Old Vicarage, East Ruston

6. Right flooring–  again think about the material you use underneath the structure. It should be durable and harmonise with the path/terrace/patio materials in the wider garden, though it can contrast with these to help define the space covered by the arbour or pergola.

7. Right maintenance – keep an eye on your garden structures and look after them – re-coat painted wood regularly, check screws,nuts and bolts for rust, loosening or weakening joints.

Further information:

Great Designs for a garden party

Better Homes & Gardens examples of pergolas

Pergola plans for Free

58,779 garden pergola Home Design Photos

Old School Gardener

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post and others on this blog, why not comment and join others by signing up for automatic updates via email (see side bar, above right ) or through an RSS feed (see top of page)?

Finding Nature

Nature Connectedness Research Blog by Prof. Miles Richardson

Norfolk Green Care Network

Connecting People with Nature

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.

Susan Rushton

Celebrating gardens, photography and a creative life

Daniel Greenwood

Unlocking landscapes

Alphabet Ravine

Lydia Rae Bush Poetry


Australian Pub Project

Vanha Talo Suomi

a harrowing journey of home improvement & garden renovation

How I Killed Betty!

Mad as a box of frogs? Most probably ... but if I can’t be perfect, then I’ll happily be fabulously imperfect!

Bits & Tidbits


Rambling in the Garden

.....and nurturing my soul

The Interpretation Game

Cultural Heritage and the Digital Economy


Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy


Notes from the Gardeners...

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Garden Sustainably


A girl and her garden :)

%d bloggers like this: