A Garden History & Design Minute
submitted by Lindsay Dodge A Garden History & Design Minute from the Archives of American Gardens (AAG)
By Savannah Gignac, AAG/GCA Garden History & Design Intern. August 2011.
Pleaching involves interweaving branches of trees together in order to form walls, walks, arbors, tunnels and arches. Incisions are made in the bark of branches which are then tied together. By tying and interlacing limbs along a supportive framework, branches eventually grow together due to natural grafting. Branches that are young and flexible are the best to use when pleaching. Typical trees used include hornbeam, apple, sycamore, beech, lime and linden. In garden design, pleaching may be used to create shaded walkways or allées with the effect often being that of a tightly woven hedge.
Pleaching originated in the gardens of the late medieval period. Bound branches helped prevent annual flooding and created natural property boundaries. Pleaching remerged in European gardens toward the end of the 17th century in response to a design craze for latticework. The wealthy wanted to mimic this same motif in their own gardens. Shakespeare mentions “walking in a thick pleached alley in my orchard,” in Much Ado about Nothing. Although pleaching was rarely seen in colonial America due to the unpopularity of aesthetically intensive gardening, America’s rising leisure class of the mid-19th century revived the practice.
Click here to go to the Garden Club of America Website to read the full report on Pleaching.