Adding a structure to your garden is an excellent way to incorporate color, style and even practicality. The right garden structure serves as a focal point to tie together a landscape. Many cultures have developed their own traditional garden constructions, so if you’re looking for functional or purely aesthetic features, there are many to choose from.
Many traditional garden constructions arose from practical needs, making it possible to grow plants that do not survive if fully exposed to the open air. For example, the Conservatory was initially built as an interior garden room, intended to display and store plants or even food. Like many greenhouses, it has a glass and metal structure. However, unlike a greenhouse, the main function of a conservatory was not to grow the plants, but to store them. This function is evidenced by the etymology of the word, derived from the Italian “l”, to store or preserve. As early as 1650, the word refers to food and product storage structures.
Traditional garden structures often draw their extreme designs for pure decoration. Often the constructions are designed in a specific style, very ornate, like those that evoke ancient ruins. A pergola is also a structure that serves mainly to decorate a garden. It consists of pillars that support a horizontal lattice overhead. While vines can grow on the structure, their open design offers little shade. Originally erected in ancient Egyptian gardens, modern pergolas come from Italy, where they were used in gardens during the Renaissance.
Traditional buildings of Asia
Asian gardens often feature traditional constructions. For example, a Japanese garden may feature a tea room, intended to practice the cultural tea ceremony within a tea garden. The structure has a very special setup, with certain elements related to the ceremony – including a pair of shoji doors, which must remain closed during the ceremony. One of the corners of the teahouse has a hole called a tokonoma, to hold a parchment, incense and an arrangement of flowers. The pavilion, another traditional garden structure, comes in many forms. Chinese gardens may have outdoor or enclosed pavilions; an outdoor, six-sided pavilion is a traditional design.
Several traditional garden buildings have unique shapes or made of unique materials. For example, the strombrella consists of a covered structure with a swing below, designed for two people. The Stromboli often has intricate “gingerbread” style carpentry along its roof line or support beams. The wattle is unusual, not because of its design, but because of the construction materials it uses; popular in medieval gardens, it implements small branches, branches and reeds to create a woven framework for walls and ceilings. A slightly more substantial version of the structure uses mud to hold the branches in place.