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With a lot of help from my friends


Years ago, I bought two rose arches from Lidl at a fiver each – this while I was still living on the 7th floor! Couldn’t resist them at that price, and knew that I’d have a use for them later, or at least I sincerely hoped that I would.

Been trying on and off to find somewhere to place them in my extensive garden – even thought about putting one over my worktable and roofing it with plastic to give me some dry space, but table’s too wide and arch wasn’t deep enough.

Also thought about trying to arch over the back door; I’m not allowed to put a roof over the steps (even a bit of plastic on hooks), but I did want an outdoor dry space, if only to encourage me not to smoke indoors.

Dug one arch out of the storage cupboard and opened it last week (only about three years after buying it, so well done me!). Lot more pieces than I’d anticipated, and instructions tiny and obviously put into English by someone for whom English was not a first language.

Asked my home help if she’d help, and she did – rather, she let me help her assemble it. A complete arch would be no use, as there’s a wall behind the back door and having trellis there would be pointless, as well as getting in the way of the door opening fully.

So “we” assembled the arch in two parts, half-an-arch each. I needed the top to be high enough and wide enough to let the door open, so we took four straight pieces from the second arch and added them to the ends, to make a straight section where the arch would have started sloping down again.

That’ll make the second arch one section shorter, but as I’m thinking about making a cover for the breakfast bench, it only has to be high enough for me to sit under without banging me head!

She and I discussed how to secure the ends to the wall, and how to weight the bases to keep them still: I’ve read that one can use small pots with concrete or plaster of Paris to weight the feet, but as the two sections were side by side, the inner feet would have to go in the same pot, which would make it a bit tricky to revamp later if I wanted to separate them. I have plenty of water bottles, so I said if I tied them to the feet that should hold them.

She went, and later the handyman arrived. He did some jobs for me inside, and, as an afterthought, I showed him the arch and asked about securing it to the wall. He finished off the indoor jobs and then said he’d have a go at the arch. He did! He made some brackets to hold the top to the wall, tied the two inner sections of the arches together, and even drilled small holes in the paving for the feet, so they’d not be likely to slip.

I still want to anchor the feet, just to make sure. And I’m going to put a bit of plastic on the roof of the arch, to give me my “smoking shelter”.

Now I need to decide what to plant, and how.

It’s called a “rose arch” so that was my first thought: I’ve found a couple of miniature climbing roses, stated height about two metres – I presume one will take up all the available width.

I don’t particularly want a “vigorous” plant – it’ll grow fast, but then what? Have to be cut back twice a year, if not more? I’d like something evergreen, to give all-year interest. So, long-lasting flowers and plenty of ‘em, with scent (ha, I’ll have to get used to insects flying indoors unless I put net curtain at the door and window!)

And how to plant? It’ll need to be in a pot, and once it starts to climb, it’ll be hard to repot it, so it’ll need a very large pot or trough right from the start – unless I use an appropriate pot in a trough, then lift it and replace it with a larger one until it goes directly into the trough?

And should I put the pot/trough on the ground, or on something to raise it a bit so I can see it and get at it easier? Would it make much æsthetic difference if the climber started a couple of feet up from the ground? (of course it’d make a difference to the top of the arch! If it’s a two-metre climber and I raise it half a metre …)

I’d be very glad to read what other people recommend to go up the arch, and any suggestions on how to plant it, and how high, would also be gratefully received!

I always feel that I need to add string between frames to give plants more to hang on to – did that with trellis, and small obelisks. Can a plant climb that much in one go?

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A trough or pot would be fine to grow quite a lot of different plants in. Do you want something evergreen because that could cut down the light in the house in the winter. How about sweet peas which will flower all summer and be scented. Or a rose eg Queen Elizabeth, has a pillar like growth habit. You can prune it so that there are flowers all the way up the pillar. You could have both. There are lots of shorter clematis eg Josephine which will flower all season. I think you should get lots of suggestions. How very kind your Home Help and Handy man are. Its nice to know there are still plenty of nice people out there. Very clever idea to use the two halves of the arch side by side.

13 Jul, 2012


As usual Goypedia ( the alphabet at thebottom)has a category arch ideas.....and I bet theres one on pergola's as well just the place to go surfing....hope it helps Fran x

13 Jul, 2012


You are definitely the mother of invention, Fran. That's a great solution and once things are growing up and over it is going to look very chic. Look forward to seeing how this develops.

13 Jul, 2012


I'm gobsmacked - the things you think of! This is brilliant.

13 Jul, 2012


Well Fran you sure do come up with some good ideas and always seem to find the makings stashed away somewhere, lol. I`m pleased you had some help with the awkwards parts, I think I` d go for a clematis or two in a trough or large pot and underplant with seasonal plants and bulbs, have fun choosing....

13 Jul, 2012


Nothing keeps you stumped for long Fran...I truly admire your inventive nature!!
A smoking hut - well done - nothing worse that the rain making your ciggie all soggy!!!!
Not that experience to help with your planting choices but good luck with whatever you choose :)

13 Jul, 2012


This is a silly suggestion, but I'm sure you'll morph it into something sensible: it's bound to be raining when you fancy a smoke, so how about poking a large-ish umbrella up through the top of the arch, then opening it so it rests on the arch, thereby giving you a bit of cover. You could even hang an 'ashtray' from the handle!

14 Jul, 2012


Thanks for the helpful feedback, everyone. This is my first opportunity for a climber, so I'm totally in the dark - my "wants" are probably as unrealistic as my dreams for a garden when I lived on the 7th floor! and for the same reason - no experience to go on.

I'd not thought of Sweet Peas, Scotsgran, maybe I should experiment with them before I decide on a permananet plant - then I'll have some idea of how much light will be excluded from the kitchen - if it don't work, it'll only last a year, rather than trying to move a permanant climbing plant - the wire-mesh fence around the garden is even shorter than the arch, and I don't know how much weight that'd take. But I'll check out the rose you mane, thank you, and the clematis - never grown that before, don't think I've even seen it grown, so another totally new area.

thanks, Pamg - never occurred to me to check GoyPedia: I did the log on Word and then pasted it in, and the last paragraphs were afterthoughts (did think about m aking them separeate Questions, then thought, what the heck, and added them to the end of the blog). I've got so many GoYpedia link in my "ideas" folder, but it's remembering to look

Would the trellis be wide enough for two climbers, Lincs? just nipped out to measure it; it's 30" - 72cm - did think about two, but I don't like crowding plants and forcing them to compete against each other for the available resources. hmm, I have some troughs on wheels, maybe they could have one each, then they'd "only" be competing for space to climb. Two different colours would look good, though. And I could have bulbs at the front, and/or small plants.

I get both Home Help and Handyman through Age Concern - Age UK now, as they've merged with Help The Aged. The handymen also help with gardening if needed. I have to pay for both (I don't qualify for a home help from the council as I can wash and dress myself) but the price is reasonable - a lot more reasonable than the firm of handymen I found online: they were good, but at £60 per hour - plus VAT - they damn well should be!

14 Jul, 2012


I do have a beach umbrella, Nariz, and I did think about using that as a “porch”, but nowhere to support it that wouldn’t be in the way, and the umbrella can’t be placed to cover the porch and yet leave room for the door to open. I have a hand-rail for the steps, but even so …

I hadn’t thought about putting it through the arch, I’ll go and have a look and think about it, but then it’d shelter and shade the troughs, maybe to the detriment of whatever plant-s I decide on.

I’m going to “roof” the top of the arch with a bit of clear plastic; keep weather off while the climbers are growing – it’ll be a couple of years before they get that high and it’ll be in their way, and then I can maybe suspend the “roof” below the arch, to give them room and me cover.

Lol besides I had a plan for that umbrella! I have a hammock that I want to get slung, once the handyman has put hooks in the walls for me – when I get the sun, it’s very warm, but the garden is overlooked by flats on two sides, so I can’t go as “al fresco” as I’d like. But if I can arrange the umbrella to cover most of the hammock from those overlooking blocks …

14 Jul, 2012


I'm sure you'll work out a way, Fran.

14 Jul, 2012


lol if there's enough will, I'll find a way

14 Jul, 2012


I've bought some Sweet Pea seeds via Amazon, now to get started on them

12 Aug, 2012

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