April 9, 2013

Moongate Arbor

I spent the winter planning an arbor for the entrance to our gravel seating area, which I posted about here in January.

I wanted to define the way into this garden, and thought an arbor with a kiwi vine (Actinidia kolomikta) would do it. I gathered lots and lots of inspiration photos, which kept me busy much of the winter.

So now, here it is. Ta Da! A metal moongate arbor, waiting for a nice climbing vine and some summer weather.

Jim and I installed it during the cold, windy days of early April. It's an inexpensive aluminum structure, wobbly and insubstantial. The woody kiwi vine, which I will plant on the left side, will probably be heavy enough to tear it down in a season.

The four slender legs are just kind of stuck in the ground, but Jim dug down as deep as he could to stabilize it. You can't dig very deep in New England -- you hit ice age boulders at 8 inches, so it sits where it sits and we'll hope the vine holds it down.

I like it.

The half moon gate is as flimsy as the rest of the contraption, and is difficult to latch. It will drive me crazy coming and going through this area.

But I still really like it.

A casualty of the installation was the nice creeping thyme that was establishing around the bluestone steps. We added a third step so you can walk from the pavers up to the gate without stepping onto the grass. Did you know that laying stone is a job that is way harder than it looks? It is.

I could have dug up the thyme and saved it to replant around the new steps, but I didn't. It was cold, it was windy, and we just started digging, thinking the stones could be jiggered in and nestled among the creeping thyme. Of course not.

So I have to get more plugs to reestablish a carpet around the steps. It is Thymus serpyllum 'Albus'. Where it was planted before, it was quite nice, with white flowers that bloomed forever throughout June, and a thick mat of greenery the rest of the time. You step on it and it smells fragrant.

Here it is, back when we had roses growing above the thyme mat. The roses were taken out, but I love this picture of pink petals sprinkled on the tiny white blossoms.

This thyme spreads quickly, so the steps under the moongate arbor will be softened and look more natural.

The kiwi vine will grow quickly to cover one side of the arch. I'll post a follow up when it all starts to look as I imagined it.

 

36 comments:

  1. It's going to look lovely...in my experience, it's the wind that poses the biggest threat to structures like that...I've had trellises either toppled, or completely snapped off at the base in a strong gust!

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    1. Scott, thanks! It has been so windy over the first week of April and I thought the arbor would go down as soon as we got it in, but it hasn't even tilted. So far so good.

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  2. I think your arbor is wonderful and you did a GREAT job on those stepping stones! When I got to the picture of the thyme I was going to ask what it was and then saw you already answered that. I have stepping stones in my paths and I've been looking for something to put between them...this looks like a winner! Thanks a bunch!

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    1. Christy, I hope the thyme does well for you. It spread and made a beautiful patch for me around the original steps, but in another area it died out. It can be tricky that way.

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  3. The arbor looks great and who knows, it may last longer than you think. My garden sits on what seems to be an endless bed of shale so digging almost always requires a pry bar and results in the muttering of a few well chosen obscenities. For less wear and tear on the gate maybe you can devise a way to prop it open on days when you're doing alot of work in the area or have company strolling around.

    Are you now looking at your stepping stone through the grass project with a new perspective? :)

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    1. Sue, thank you -- I actually am pretty inspired about laying the irregular stone steps in the grass. While setting this one stone was a challenge, I think we learned a bit and can tackle the new project with some confidence. I hope!

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  4. Flimsy or not, it looks grand. Sorry the thyme was sacrificed but it takes a lot of time to save a little thyme and time is of the essence when cold April gives way to hot April overnight. Love it.

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    1. Layanee, ok, I am chuckling and giggling. It really does take time to save thyme. I learned that for sure! Hee.

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  5. I think it even SOUNDS good. "Head through the moon gate to the gravel garden." It's going to look awesome.

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    1. Heather, I agree--- I just like saying "moon gate". It makes me think I am in Bermuda.

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  6. Very nice! You may end needing to put concrete footings in; they may help even if they are shallow. We had to do this for our arbor with Cl. Old Blush on it. The whooole thing started leaning over.

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    1. Sweetbay, we did get precast concrete footings to set this in, but could not dig deep enough to bury them more than half way. And I did not want the look of the arbor sitting up on concrete blocks. Ugh. But I may have to do something.

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  7. Laurrie, you and Jim done good. I hope the flimsiness won't matter after the kiwi vine fortifies your arbor against the wind. If not, yours will suffer the same fate of mine, which had no concrete footings: Big winds flew it like a kite. Three times; I finally moved it to another spot and wedged it between two trees. Not what I had in mind, but as a curiosity, it's just fine.

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    1. Lee, I am worried about kite flying arbors smashing into the house on a windy day. Eeep. I do think I may need to add some concrete into the holes where the skinny legs are placed. Right now, without any vine on it, it has held up to april winds just fine, but with foliage mass, it might not.

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  8. I love your moon gate. It will look fabulous with the kiwi growing on it. I have a similar arbor. You might be pleasantly surprised at it's hardiness. Bring on the thyme. It does add a lot to those pavers.

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    1. Lisa, you are encouraging! I hope it stands up to the vine, and to any winds, and lasts for a few seasons at least : )

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  9. Love it! And that thyme looks so pretty. The release of fragrance when you step on it is another added bonus. Love your choice of vine, too. I've always wanted to put one of those somewhere here, but I haven't found the right spot. It will look fabulous over your arbor. I have a little arbor with a gate, but it's not level, so the gate has to stay permanently open! I hope you have better luck with yours over the years.

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    1. HolleyGarden, Right now we engineered this arbor to be absolutely level. But after a winter of frost heaves or a lot of wind, it might be a different story!

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  10. Laurrie, I have a similar problem with rock 20cm under the soil where I have a rose arch. It blew down, but then we pegged it with heavy-duty tent pegs - no ropes, just the pegs hammered in over the bottom rail, which was at ground level. Your rail is too high, but maybe some thick, bent wire could work. Ours is steady as a rock now.
    Your arbor is lovely.

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    1. Lyn, there are a couple ways I could anchor this better, even by just pouring a little concrete into the area around the legs. The tent pegs tied to cords low to the ground could work too!

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  11. I think it is fannnntastic! The perfect entrance to your garden room! Rock on! I can't wait to see how the vines grow up and over!!! Hey, and if it gets wobbly just stick its posts in mini cement buckets and burying those! Have a wonderful week Laurrie!

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    1. Nicole, thanks. I am also anxious to see the vine start to cover this arch. I grew kiwi before, and hope it does as well here by the arbor.

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  12. Looks very elegant! It will be fantastic when the vines are grown in.

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    1. Jason, elegant is what I was going for! Thanks.

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  13. I like your arbor, but I LOVE your creeping thyme! I'm going to steal your idea, if you don't mind!

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    1. Sarah, the thyme is a beauty, but I do struggle with it is some areas. Around the steps it is lush and thick, but it died out in some other areas. It's easy to dig up and divide pieces and replant them into the trouble areas though.

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  14. the way you describe your arbor makes me think there might be a forthcoming GOOPS at some point :) I like the look of it too though, the shape is very pleasing. I really like your thyme though - I've been thinking of ideas to plant around front door area (that is after we rip out the porch this year) and that thyme might just fill the bill.

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    1. Marguerite, let's hope there is no future oops with this arbor! The thyme needs full sun and sandy soil, so if you put it around the front door, make sure it gets sunny dry conditions.

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  15. Laurrie, I love your arbor! It's airy and well designed. Think the kiwi liana (Actinidia) will be pretty well near the arbor. I have one near my trellis and it grows curving it, looks nice.

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    1. Nadezda, thank you. I'm glad to hear you grow a kiwi vine and you think it will look good here.

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  16. I love the arbor and the stones with that gorgeous thyme.

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    1. Donna, thanks! I am liking it all too, and can't wait for the plants around to fill in.

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  17. I know you will enjoy your arbor! We have one that is quite flimsy, but it is anchored well by the jasmine vine that has swallowed it. I also love your stones with the thyme!

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    1. Deborah, I'm glad to hear that your flimsy arbor survives. There is hope for mine!

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  18. You crack me up! :o) Sometimes the heart just wants what it wants. Perhaps the heavy vine will stabilize it, especially if it has a strong root system. Love the thyme/rose combo. Very nice!

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    1. Tammy, I know, I know. I should have installed something much more substantial, but this is the shape and dimension I wanted. I just wanted it : )

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