Arbor vs Pergola

A Garden History & Design Minute 
From the Archives of the American GardensWritten by Carolyn Chesarino, AAG/GCA Garden History & Design Intern
Submitted by Lindsay Dodge In A Glossary of Garden History, Michael Symes defines an arbor as “a garden shelter or bower, often of curving arch form.”  A bower is a “covered enclosure or recess in a garden.”  Arbors are differentiated from pergolas, which Symes defines as a “structure of uprights and connecting joists or arches for supporting climbing plants or fruit trees.” Another term in Symes’ glossary slightly muddles the issue: the tunnel-arbor, which is “an extended arbor” and therefore sounds awfully like a pergola! 

Joe Eck, a garden designer, author, and frequent contributor to Horticulture magazine, uses a helpful metaphor to differentiate between the two terms. He refers to an arbor as “a doorway” while a pergola is a “kind of hall between separate rooms.”