An arbor is a lovely garden element, a place to sit and
enjoy the shade and the peace of a garden on a sunny day. Using arbors in the
garden is a great way to create separate spaces and visual interest, and
gardeners have been creating such spaces for a long time. Garden arbor history
actually dates back thousands of years.
What is an Arbor?
First, it’s important to understand exactly what an arbor
is. There are some similar terms gardeners throw around, but these are distinct
structures. A trellis, for instance, is not the same as an arbor, nor is a
An arbor is any recessed or partially closed off area that
provides shade and a seat. The purpose is to create a comfortable resting area
in a garden or yard. A trellis is any kind of structure that provides shade and
for plants to climb, but it is generally smaller than an arbor and does not
include a seating area. A pergola is a trellis that covers a walkway, but it
may include seating as well.
Where Did Arbors Originate?
The story behind garden arbors may be as old as ancient
Egypt. In the unforgiving heat of the desert, arbors provided areas of cool
shade. The use of arbors continued through ancient civilizations, and they were
especially popular in Roman gardens. Europeans continued to construct arbors in
gardens over the centuries and up to modern times.
Using Arbors in the Garden – from Ancient Times to Now
Throughout history, gardeners have created and built arbors
out of all kinds of materials. The simplest were just spaces under trees. The
name arbor may come from the Latin word for tree, the original, simple structure
for an arbor.
Romans used more decorative materials, creating structures
with stone columns and statues. In later centuries in Europe, many arbors were
built simply. Gardeners used vining plants to create spaces tucked away out of
an arbor today, you can look to the past for inspiration or create
something entirely new. An arbor can be practical and simple or the main
point of your entire garden.