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Creating Natural Shade

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.

Jane Austen

We’re often asked about creating shade for a swing seat or pergola, and many people want a quick solution, so there is of course always the option of a parasol positioned by your furniture.

However, we much prefer a natural solution, with plants chosen for their climbing and rambling habits, and if there can also be the added bonus of them providing scent, then we are pretty well in heaven! 

Rambling Roses

In the photo above, this painted swing seat in the Sitting Spiritually garden has Rosa Rambling Rector clambering all over it.  This beautiful rose is covered in large heads of small, semi-double, creamy white flowers, and each flower has a cluster of pretty yellow stamens, perfect for encouraging bees.  These flowers have a powerful musky clove scent and are produced in great abundance on strong, dense, twiggy growth. The flowers are followed by masses of small hips in the autumn, so this rose really does have it all, the ability to provide shade and scent in Summer, then the added bonus of glorious red hips in Autumn and Winter.

Other roses suitable for this would be The Generous Gardener a fabulous pale pink rose with a strong musky/myrrh scent  or Wollerton Old Hall a gorgeous soft apricot colour with a good scent.  Really where roses are concerned for covering a frame or structure, the choices are endless, but do consider that a Rambling Rose will normally grow & clamber much quicker than a Climbing Rose.


We also love to use Lonicera periclymenum 'Graham Thomas' (see large photo below) this is a  fabulously fragrant honeysuckle, with large, tubular, white flowers, ageing to yellow, from July to September and oval, mid-green leaves. This vigorous, deciduous climber will soon cover a swing seat frame or pergola.  It will lose its leaves in Autumn, but you will be rewarded with fresh green foliage appearing again in early Spring.


And do also consider Clematis, Clematis montana is a vigorous grower that will very quickly scramble over a structure. It has white flowers with four petals and flowers from late spring to early summer. ‘Van Gogh’ is an excellent clematis that blooms early in cherry-pink and continues for up to six weeks.


You could always consider a vine: structures like pergolas and arbours have been used for centuries to hold up vines that create shade. Vines trained up and  over create living rooves & walls that shade and cool from the hot, summer sun. Grapevines usually fruit from midsummer to early autumn. By growing them up a pergola, you can enjoy the pendulous fruits hanging down from the canopy and in time will even provide you with a healthy snack as you languish on your swing seat or day bed!

Visit the Sitting Spiritually Garden & see how we do it

We hope we’ve provided you with a few ideas for creating your own shade.  To see how we do it in the Sitting Spiritually Garden, we are now very happy to be able to once again welcome visitors for a socially distanced garden show round, please just give us a call on 01297 443084 and we will happily make a time for you to visit us.  Viewing the garden is strictly by appointment only to ensure everyone’s safety, even as restrictions ease.

Lonicera periclymenum 'Graham Thomas'

Posted by Siobhan on July 6th 2021

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