Popular Garden Structures Fom Around The World


Having posed the question “Pergolas, Gazebos and Arbours – What’s the difference?” a couple of months back, I was blown away by the mass of responses that came from all corners of the globe! These replies not only answered the above question but also introduced a whole new raft of garden structures.

I said that when I had time I would publish this list with a brief description (where necessary) so that any confusion in the terminology could be eradicated – hopefully leading to a comprehensive and definitive list that would prove a useful tool when discussing customer requirements and specifications of projects for their own gardens עיצוב ביתנים מודולרים

This is by no means an exhaustive summary – but it’s a start and I look forward to receiving new ideas and descriptions that you have which can then be added. I have restricted the subject to predominantly ‘wooden’ garden structures, as that is what I am interested in, but some of the descriptions will include stone, brick or glass or a mixture of all three – but all will entail the use of timber somewhere in the structure.

1) ‘Lean-to’ Pergola

This traditional mediterranean style pergola is usually made from wood and built against the house to provide a transitory area from the inside to the outside. during the Renaissance period in particular it gave ladies of a certain breeding the opportunity to take the air without damaging their fair complexion.

2) ‘Stand-alone’ Pergola

Again, traditionally made from wood, features uprights but no solid roof. These can be positioned attractively in the garden and allows some protection from the harsh rays of the sun, particularly if planted up with shading climbers.

Both types of pergola are, in effect, frames for vines and climbers that surround the occupants with foliage, flowers and aromas, offer a measure of protection and, nowadays, afford some privacy in urban areas.

3) Gazebo

A wooden stand-alone garden structure, usually with sides and a solid roof, frequently situated to maximise available views of the garden itself or the landscape beyond. They are often hexagonal or octagonal in design and may have lattice-work sides and built-in seating, giving them a sturdy, enclosed feel. They are structures in their own right and are rarely vehicles for plants.

4) Summerhouse

Same as above but a modern description on the theme – usually square or rectangular and with glazed windows. Can be plumbed in and have access to electricity for further outdoor usage.

5) Arbour (USA – Arbor)

A short ‘walk-through’ stand-alone arched structure, usually made from wood, that connects one part of the garden to another (say, the vegetable garden to a formal lawn area). these are often used as a frame for climbers, particularly roses

6) Victorian arbour

A traditional solid wooden garden ‘love seat’ (popular in Victorian times) – usually with incorporated bench, high back and covered arch for roof. When planted with climbers (roses) the excitement of a clandestine meeting in a garden appealed to the Victorian sense of romance!

7) Bower

A variation on the above – placed in a shady enclosure or recess in the garden, these stand-alone structures, usually made from wood, and with latticed sides and backs, were used for secluded contemplation of the garden and when planted up with climbers – enhanced the additional sensory appeal.

8) Alcove

Still on the same theme as above – an alcove is a shady recess, retreat or niche in a garden wall that uses either the wall itself or foliage as a roof for protection from the elements. Some alcoves have a small wooden arch built as a roof if the wall is not high enough or there is no nearby vegetation. C17

9) Rotunda

A building or garden room having a circular plan especially incorporating a domed roof. C17 – from Italian ‘rotonda’ and before from Latin ‘Rota’ meaning a wheel. Mainly built from stone with wooden framed roof.

10) Orangery

Popular with the Victorians – built of stone or brick incorporated a glass roof with wooden frame and, sometimes, glazed sides. Traditionally used for growing oranges in a cool climate. Great example of one at Kew Gardens, London.

11) Pavilion

There are many descriptions of the word pavilion ranging from a large ornate tent with a peaked top used for shelter by kings, princes and generals of armies during the middle ages, a changing room for british cricket players to a temporary structure that is usually ornate and open sided for housing exhibitions. They can also describe the structures, like bandstands, that appeared in English parks during the C19 to the grand Brighton Royal Pavilion on the south coast of the UK built for King George 1V between 1787 and 1823 for his renowned Regency parties, balls and general entertaining.

However, in this context, the term pavilion would mean a summerhouse or other such decorative garden structure that would be a step above any of the terms described so far. You would have to have a great deal of money and space to commission one!

12) Folly

Although not strictly a wooden structure – history notes that follies could have been made from timber (if the owner did not have the money) but sadly most would have rotted away by now. Here are 2 descriptions from the English Chambers dictionary followed by the English Collins dictionary:

a) “a monument of folly, such as a great useless structure, or one left unfinished because it was begun without establishing the cost or a building constructed merely for ornamental purposes, such as a mock ruin”

b) “a building in the form of a castle, temple etc. built to satisfy a fancy or conceit, often of an eccentric kind”

Says it all really – panders to the vanity of the rich landowners of the time!

13) Greenhouse/Glasshouse

Building with transparent walls and roof – usually of glass and used for the cultivation and exhibition of plants under controlled conditions. Beautiful traditional greenhouses with low brick walls and wooden framed glass look sensational and are much sought after. The only difference between the two that I can find (apart from where you come from) is that a greenhouse traditionally uses no artificial heating or lighting.

14) Playhouse/Wendy House

Outdoor/indoor – wooden child’s toy that is big enough for one or two children to enter. The term Wendy House means exactly the same but was named in the C20 after the house built for Wendy – the girl in JM Barrie’s play ‘Peter Pan’ in 1904

15) Tree House

No explanation needed!

16) Porch

A low structure (usually wooden) projecting from the doorway of a house and forming a covered entrance.(C13 from the french – ‘porche’) In the USA it can mean an exterior roofed gallery, often partly enclosed, and is also sometimes referred to as a varanda or colonnade.

17) Portico

A range of columns along the front or sides of a building (either in wood or stone) with a roof that turns it into a covered walkway. Latin – ‘porticus’ meaning porch.

18) Varanda or Varandah

A roofed gallery, terrace or open portico along the front or side of a building; In New Zealand it is used as a canopy sheltering the street in front of a shop. Hindi meaning balcony.

19) Loggia

A covered open arcade on the side of the house especially one that serves as a porch. Derived from C17 Italian

20) Cabana

A structure (can be a tent) that serves as a dressing room by the sea. From the Spanish ‘cabana’ meaning cabin. Nowadays, more likely to be used as a pool house providing storage and changing facilities.

21) Belvedere

A pavilion, raised turret or lantern on the top of a house (built from stone or wood) to provide a view or to admit the breeze. Also used to describe a summerhouse or gazebos built on high ground. (Italian – from ‘bel’ meaning beautiful and ‘vedere’ meaning to see).

22) Lanai

Hawaiian term – meaning a wooden structure built onto the side of a house and used as an additional living area. Basically a Hawaiian varanda!

23) Living willow tunnels

Self explanatory!

OK that’s just about it – hope you’ve enjoyed reading it! As I said, I’ve deliberately left out garden structures such as ponds, patios, walls, fences and hedges etc as they are definitely not on my agenda! However, please feel free to comment on any other garden structures you want included and I’ll do my best.

Whether combined with a terrace, patio, lawn or gravel area – our traditional ‘lean-to’ pergolas are the best way to create your own garden room and enjoy the delights of being outdoors. We’ve established ourselves to give you the opportunity of purchasing your own ‘perfect pergola’ designed to complement your existing property by using a selection of different woods and finishes.

Plant fabulous climbers to cover it with foliage and flowers from early spring to late autumn – making your pergola the perfect shady retreat. Not only will your pergola help protect you from the elements but surround you with a wonderful fragrance at the same time.

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