If your heart longs for the passion or solace of a romantic garden, you’re probably yearning for a latticed retreat beside the still waters.
Romance often seems rooted in the elements of surprise and unpredictability.
And a wisp of wisdom or folly, or both, is a refreshing touch to any garden.
The key visual element of any backyard garden might come in the shape of a gazebo.
The latticed wood structure offered by local garden centers or by companies that produce the ready-made structures for mail-order customers might fill the bill.
Gazebos are terrific additions to any home garden or lawn landscape.
What is most intriguing about these unusual shelters is that nobody knows who built the first gazebo.
But the romantic little buildings turn up in virtually every culture with a history of gardening.
The name is believed by architectural experts to be an 18th-century British version of pig Latin meaning “I shall gaze.’’
Whether the gazing was to be done from within or at the gazebo itself is not entirely clear. But the idea is much older than the word.
The earliest representation of a gazebo was found in a painting decorating the tomb of a scribe in ancient Egypt. Dated about 1400 B.C., the painting shows a garden with twin white gazebos beneath palm trees—an ideal spot for beating the heat and viewing the fish and waterfowl in the scribe’s papyrus-shaded pool.
History records plenty of gazebo-like structures ever since. You can call it a “guh-zay-bo” or “guh-zee-bo,” but folly, summer house, kiosk, belvedere, “ombrello” or pavilion also will do.
Set on hills, in bosky glades and on the banks of limpid pools, gazebos have been made of lattice, twig, wicker, wire, brick and stone. In Europe, they first were designed to resemble Greek and Roman temples.
And then came the petite backyard pagodas and Taj Mahals inspired by voyages to the East, and the lacy structures loved by Victorians.
Round, square or octagonal and open to the breezes, they’ve served an infinite variety of purposes; garden shelters, viewing stands, huts or hermits, bridal bowers, banqueting rooms and, in some cases, as the platform from which owners feed the fish in their ponds.
Gazebos can take many architectural forms depending on their location and intended function. Here is one option for a clear-roofed garden retreat, or folly, that updates the traditional wooden gazebo.
As a rule, most gazebos have adhered closely to classically inspired architectural shapes and materials. This means that they customarily are framed in wood, maybe surrounded by wooden lattice panels or other similar partitions to close in the sides and are topped by a hipped or gabled roof. Sometimes, those roofs are solid, but often they are left open as a framework for climbing vines.
And while gardens existed before gardeners, the latter can claim credit for the idea of shelters and trellises in the landscape, outside structures that allow us to live closer to and enjoy our plants more in their natural setting.
Still, there’s not much to do to your landscape this time of year.
Many lawns don’t even require mowing. You just need to weed, water, and do some light pruning.
This is the ideal month to do some landscaping by determining favorite colors, visual elements and how you plan to use the garden.
Organize your ideas and focus on what you want the landscape to do for you.
Some people enjoy sipping tea on the terrace of a formally designed landscape.
Avid gardeners would be most enthralled with big planting beds where they can sit and tend to their flora.
Party animals want gardens to accommodate a lot of people plus tables, chairs, and a barbecue.
Others might prefer lounging on a hammock in natural surroundings reading a book.
Satisfaction really depends on your personality. There are many fresh, new design possibilities for the garden, including the romance of a gazebo that provides the perfect lawn shelter.
You just must come up with ideas that please you.
Now is a great time to do that.
Top o’ the morning!