When an arbor is an elegant entry, it makes a simple but ceremonious statement: "Welcome to the garden."
In Santa Barbara, interior designer Ann James uses a classic wooden arch to frame the entrance to her home, a turn-of-the-century gardener's cottage now detached from its original estate. One of the best vines for Southern California covers the arch with delicate white flowers that bloom year-round. The botanical name, Solanum jasminoides , sounds prettier than the common name--potato vine. Though this tomato relative can grow to 20 or 30 feet in a year or two, it never becomes ponderous; it remains thin and graceful, unlike many quick starters that soon become garden thugs.
In West Los Angeles, a wooden arch designed by Richard Mosbaugh of Statice Landscape + Design is the dramatic portal to a lush front garden. Mosbaugh sculpted the land, creating a pathway that seems to follow a tree-lined valley. Steps of Bouquet Canyon stone and almost vertical slabs of grass held in place by netting are part of the pastoral illusion.
To Mosbaugh, arches and arbors as entries not only connect a house to its garden but also add dimension, especially depth, even to small gardens. "An arbor is like a curtain," he says. "The curtain opens, and there is the garden."
Fall is the best time to plant just about anything because the weather is cool and rainy. An arbor installed and planted now will be welcoming guests to your garden by next spring.