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Eileen's Story - A Mammoth Pergola

Updated: Feb 13

Sometimes a job comes along that not only is unexpected but also deeply satisfying where we can design, create and maintain an entire project.... This was definitely one such project.

This particular job really came at us out of the blue as we thought someone else was booked to do it but, wow, what a job it became…

We had inherited this client during the covid lockdowns via one of our competitors. They were heading back to the UK and wanted to make sure this client was well looked after and knew we were the only people for the job. We had been keeping the garden ticking over during the spring and summer but had not actually met the client until much later in the season.

Eventually in September she finally made it out to France and we sat in her garden discussing various projects she wanted to put in place. One such project was the replacement of an old wooden frame that was supporting a variety of climbers around the pool.

pergola replacement
Old rickety structure

She had a guy who had done some previous work for her pencilled in to erect a new pergola but she was not convinced about his commitment to the job. She needed our team to be present at various times in order to help transfer the climbing plants from the old structure to the new one once it was installed. We were more than happy with this but there would need to be some careful planning as we fitted our visits in around the various aspects of the project. The client was concerned that this would cause issues and asked us if we could take on the entire pergola project. Although creating a pergola is something we have done before we were not keen to oust someone from a job they thought was already theirs…. After some careful negotiations the client informed us that the aforementioned tradesman was no longer in the frame and she would be grateful if we could take on the entire project as well as a few other winter jobs that were already on our agenda.

There was much planning involved in this project because the pergola had to be spirit level straight when standing by the pool but in fact the ground sloped away quite considerably and was quite obvious from the garden side. We were also trying to tie this new pergola in with an existing one elsewhere in the garden but were being hampered by the fact that we could not source the same gauge wood.

Pergola creation
Delivering into a very tight space

Once the structure had been planned out, the next phase was organising delivery of the large quantity of materials required to get started. Luckily this was all happening during January which is a quiet month for us, but it was still hair-raising watching the lorry driver negotiate his huge lorry into the very tight driveway.

The first week of February arrived and with our team on site the first of the posts were soon in the ground. The weather was being kind to us and it was not too long before the structure was taking shape.

Pergola creation in Charente Maritime
First posts in...

The client had asked us to insert a trellis in between each set of posts but the team reported that this was just too much and, thanks to the magic of digital photography (some of us are old enough to remember a time when photos had to be developed at a pharmacy!), the client was able to approve the changes from afar.

As this new pergola was twice the size of the previous one we were also having to extend the flower border beneath it at the same time. This was edged with railway sleepers and although we were able to re-use some of the older ones, we also had to supply 20 new sleepers to complete the new border as well as bringing in an additional 3 tons of topsoil.

Gardening in Charente
Flower border now expanded

With the new pergola and extended border finally completed it was time for the plants to be relocated to their new home and this also coincided with the client returning to France. With everything rehomed and tied in we were able to apply the final top dressings of gravel and chipped bark to the ground. We were still in early spring so all the plants had plenty of time to settle in before the first rental guests of summer arrived.

This was an extremely satisfying job as we were involved in every stage over what was a fairy short period of time. The fact that we were then in charge of maintaining the plants afterwards meant that we got to see the structure transform from bare wood to a flower laden thing of beauty that soon looked like it had always been there.

In total, across 4 weeks, 8 members of our team were involved in this project utilising their various skills to maximum effect. We cannot think of another company in our region with the size of team available for this project that also have the design, building and plant skills at their disposal to pull off a job of this size with such success.

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