It's a proven fact: No one ever throws away an issue of Southern Living. That is why I'm going to pause for a moment while you locate your February 2004 issue, which features a story called "From My Yard to Yours."
Found it? Excellent. This particular story, which demonstrates how to turn a neglected side yard into something pretty, features colorful plantings of maples, camellias, boxwoods, and Japanese sweet flag. Unfortunately, it provides only the faintest glimpse of the garden's most striking element--its arbor. Many neighbors have complimented me on this structure, so I thought you might like to fashion something similar for your garden.
A Little Help From My Friends
Don't get the idea that I built this myself. Heck, whenever I successfully change a lightbulb, CNN shows up to cover the story. No, my main contributions to this project included generously providing the location and then convincing skilled coworkers they could achieve moral enlightenment by doing most of the labor. My garden colleagues helped plan the design. Deputy Editor Kenner Patton and Executive Editor Derick Belden made the arbor. Contractors fabricated the columns. As for me, I painted the wood, which, as everyone who knows me will agree, was by far the most challenging part.
We placed the arbor at the head of the garden's central path for several reasons. Just as a front door and steps identify the entry to a house, so this arbor shows you the entry to the garden. It marks the transition from front yard to side yard and also frames a view of the garden beyond.
Sizing It Up
A vital consideration when designing an arbor is making it the right size for the space. Make it too small, and it looks like it came from a kid's play set. Make it too big, and people suspect that Mighty Joe Young lives in your basement.
My side yard measures about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide. The arbor is 8 feet tall with a 4-foot opening between the posts, so it looks in scale with the yard. There's 7 feet of clearance beneath the rafters, so, except for Shaquille O'Neal, most visitors can pass through without ducking.