Documents: Latest From: Janet Davis:

10 Neat Things About Garden Structures
by Shauna Dobbie
by Dorothy Dobbie

The Local Gardener magazines, Ontario Gardener, Manitoba Gardener and Alberta Gardener, are published by Pegasus Publications Inc.

Drawing on her 30 years' experience as a senior executive in the magazine publishing industry, Dorothy launched Manitoba Gardener in 1998, initially running the business out of her home. Two years later, Dorothy's daughter Shauna, living in Ontario, jumped into the fray with Ontario Gardener. And two years after that, they started Alberta Gardener. Visit us at and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter. Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08

September 26, 2010

1. Porch or veranda. Is there a difference? Not really. Some would say that a veranda is a wider structure that can extend around more than one side of a house while others would call that kind of veranda a wrap-around porch. Loggia is another word for the same basic idea; a portico is similar, too, though traditionally a portico can only be accessed from inside the building while verandas, porches and loggias mediate between outside and in.

2. Arbour. An open structure with one or two sides and a top made of some type of lattice, typically used for training vines over.

3. Pergola. A big arbour. Traditionally, a pergola was a long arbour over a walkway, but more and more the terms are becoming interchangeable.

4. Gazebo. A small building in a garden. A gazebo can be open or glassed or screened in, but to qualify as a gazebo rather than a pergola or arbour, the structure should have a solid roof. When a gazebo is attached to house, particularly on an upper floor, I would be inclined to call it a belvedere.

5. Folly. Follies are imitations of real things put into a garden for aesthetic effect. Imitation ancient ruins, for example, like those found around the grounds of Kingsmere, William Lyon Mackenzie King's summer home in the Gatineau hills, are follies.

6. Grotto. A type of folly, the grotto is a space built to look like a cave. Sometimes a grotto forms a niche in a stone wall and might contain a statue or fountain. A grander version might have the look of the outside of a cave on one side but a glorious oasis on the other.

7. Patio, deck and decking. A patio is an outdoor hard surface at ground level while a deck is an outdoor hard surface above ground level. Decking refers to the wooden tiles or slats that typically cover a deck, though a deck can be concrete or other materials and a patio can, conceivably, be covered in decking, though ground moisture might become a problem.

8. Brise soleil. Literally translated from French, this is a sun breaker. Brises soleil typically take the form of an open roof of vertical or angled slats of wood to protect those beneath from the midday sun. You often see them over sandboxes in playgrounds.

9. Trellis. A trellis is a structure of wide-woven or intersecting pieces used to support vines. It can be a stand-alone item-a sort of piece of fence-or it can be attached to a wall or form the top of a pergola. Metals are commonly used for making trellises, but metals have the disadvantage of getting hot in the sun to the detriment of the plants the trellis is holding.

10. Topiary. Topiary is, to my mind, the height of artifice (not necessarily a negative thing) as applied to shrubs and other plants. Traditionally, topiary requires years of devotion and patience for a gardener to sculpt and train shrubbery into a particular form-animal, geometric or architectural. In the western hemisphere, the art dates back to ancient times with particularly fervent peaks in the 17th and 19th centuries. Today in public spaces, "portable topiary" is often achieved through shaping a wire cage, filling it with sphagnum moss and planting with vines or alpines.

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row