There is the remote possibility that DH and I have decided upon the course of action re making our pergola just that little bit more private. Note I said remote possibility. Nothing is decided yet.
We've looked at and considered lattice screens, hanging baskets, vertical gardens, tall trees in pots, and have, I think, finally decided on a climbing plant. I think. (In a marriage there is always the possibility that one partner has misunderstood what the other communicated - and I am very good at not getting it right!)
A week ago, DH didn't even want to plant anything on the pergola. He liked its clean lines and thought a plant would distract from them - even though over the years when we've talked about putting up a pergola it was always with the idea of growing something over it. But he seems to have changed his mind. Perhaps I persuaded him (unintentionally since I tried to respect his decision) but more likely because after two days up on scaffolding painting he was well and truly aware of the neighbouring properties! Thankfully most other areas on our property do not suffer from the same affliction (although it's obvious a certain neighbour got a new wind chime for Christmas which I am hoping will either soon drive them insane and they'll remove it or it will fall down and break in the next storm).
Back to our dilemma. The pergola. And a plant.
Slowly we are narrowing our choices down.
Roses. Beautiful. Fragrant. Classic choice. But they need to be pruned. And fed. Good soil helps and so will being salt-resistant at that height. And, let's face it, we don't do too well with caring for roses. Scrub that one.
Clematis. Gorgeous. Especially the blue ones and even more so when planted with a rose. A romantic look that I adore. But the same problems as with roses. Scrub that too.
Grape vine. Practical. Another classic choice. The thought of fresh grapes for the table is appealing (even though I'm not a huge fan of them). But grapes mean bees (two sons allergic), birds and bird poop, mess below, and training and pruning. Scrub that too.
Ornamental grape. If we're going to grow a grape it's going to have grapes. And I think they're deciduous which means we have the privacy problem again in winter (same for grapevine). Forget ornamental.
Passionfruit. Love the fruit. Flowers are pretty, leaves boring. Fairly easy care but as with roses and clematis, requires a richer soil than we presently have in place. Plus, we've managed to kill off our last three or four passionfruit vines. Only our first produced profusely but the vines tend to be short-lived which is another thing not in their favour. Scrub passionfruit vine.
Bougainvillea. Scarlet O'Hara to be exact. We already have one and it thrives on poor soil, no watering ever, minimal pruning to remove dead branches, and absolute neglect. Our kind of plant. And it would look pretty spectacular over a white pergola, especially when viewed from inside. It tends to be evergreen or partly-deciduous in our area so while there might be more light showing in winter, privacy should still be maintained.
I think we've found our perfect match.
(Um, we bought a clematis. Two actually. And planted them in pots. We couldn't get the bougainvillea we wanted - in store or online - and after the wind we had this past weekend we were reminded of the downside of bougainvillea: leaves everywhere. Pretty coloured leaves, it is true, but perhaps not fair to inflict on the neighbours.)