Berceau, Charming 3D Garden Element

A berceau or tree arbor is an overgrown garden path. On either side of the walking path, trees or shrubs have been planted which are linked above the path to create a tunnel. You can grow a berceau with evergreen and / or flowering plants. tree arbor with espalier fruit trees is just one option.

Different Types of Berceaus

Construction

In strict sense a berceau has a frame made of metal (or possibly wood).

The arc shapes are usually interconnected horizontally, but can also be free-standing.

Some also consider two rows of trees whose crowns overlap as a “berceau”, without the use of a load-bearing structure. This variant of the berceau is also called tree arbor or tree tunnel.

Please note that the load-bearing construction is a permanent part of the berceau. The strength of a berceau must be adapted to wind load (wind sensitivity) on the one hand and the weight of the plants on the other. Wisteria trees in particular can get very old and heavy.

Openings

Both sides of a berceau can be completely overgrown, or have openings.

In the latter case, the shape of the openings can vary:

  • rectangular openings (horizontal or vertical)
  • arched openings (‘gateways’)
  • small ‘windows’

Types of Planting

  • Hedge berceau
    A tunnel hedge is ideal for a tight, bushy growth habit. This allows for a cool, shady spot in summer. Lush growth on the outside of the canopy can result in a berceau which is leafless on the inside, because of lack of sunlight. A more open tunnel hedge can be created by making “window openings” in the hedge. Alternatively, the tunnel arches can be spaced evenly without interlinking.
  • Berceaus with espalier fruit
    Espalier fruit is suitable only for an open growth habit. After all, sunlight should illuminate the trees on both sides, to get tasty fruits and to prevent bare branches. The wind must also be able to blow freely through the foliage, so leaves dry up quickly after rainfall, so fungal infections are prevented.
  • Flowering berceau
    A flowering berceau is an eye-catcher in the garden during flowering period. A berceau overgrown with roses or wisteria flowers several weeks or months a year. A berceau of espalier fruit also flowers in spring, but the flowering period is quite short (just a few weeks).
  • Evergreen berceau
    A berceau covered with ivy (Hedera) is evergreen. This variant is highly suitable as a carport.
    Tip: Use concrete mesh to support climbing.

Appearance of the Berceau

Appearance of Berceau Construction

A berceau construction is a spatial, 3D element in the garden that creates air and space. In winter, after leaf fall, the lines of a berceau look stylish.

The appearance of the frame is determined by:

  • frame size
  • frame thickness
  • form of frame
  • decorative elements on the frame
  • frame color

The size of the frame (scale) must be in balance with other elements in the environment (for example, a house). In addition, the height should fit the natural height (minimum and maximum) of the particular plants that you plant along the berceau.

A thin, arc-shaped, black frame looks minimalistic, elegant and exclusive . On the other hand, a silver-colored frame is less noticeable; it adopts the color of the environment. A thick and solid wooden frame looks heavy and imposing.

Appearance of Vegetation

The appearance of a berceau will strongly depend on the plants:

  • a fresh green hedge has a mighty, timeless appeal
  • roses emit a romantic look
  • fruit trees have a nostalgic, romantic look.

Seasonal Effects

Leaf Fall

The appearance of a berceau (frame & vegetation) changes during the year. During the growing season, the frame becomes overgrown by vegetation. In contrast, in the autumn and winter periods the frame is clearly visible, in case of a deciduous crop.

With evergreen plants, the frame is permanently hidden by vegetation and the berceau looks the same all year round.


						

Spring and Autumn Colors

Deciduous woody crops with a flaming yellow or red fall color can provide spectacular color transitions.

In spring, burgeoning leaves with attractive (coppery) leaf colour are also conceivable.

Choice of Planting for Berceau

You could plant a berceau with two or more different cultivars. In general, using just one cultivar is the preferred choice, as it looks more uniform, looks neater and is the easiest to maintain. Still, situations may arise when you want to plant two or more cultivars.

Number of Cultivars of Hedge Berceau

In the vast majority of cases a hedge berceau will consist of simply one cultivar, because that gives a sleek end result and requires less maintenance.

In most other cases, most often two cultivars are used, one cultivar being a mutation of the onter. This ensures both cultivars have similar growth characteristics, yet look different. A well-known example of this is a combination of red and green beech.

Tabel: Advies aanleggen berceau / loofgang.
Aanbevolen plantensoorten en aantal gebruikte cultivars.
Type Cultivar:Type berceau:Aantal cultivars
per berceau:
Toelichting:
Beuk
(Fagus sylvatica)
haagberceau1 (of 2)Gebruik eventueel paarsbladige en groenbladige cultivars door elkaar.
Winterlinde
(Tilia cordata)
haagberceau1
Rozenberceau
(Rosa)
bloeiend
berceau
meerdereGebruik meerdere cultivars met verschillende bloeiperioden. Evt combineren met Clematis.
Clematis berceaubloeiend
berceau
meerdereGebruik meerdere cultivars met verschillende bloeiperioden. Evt combineren met rozen.
Gouden Regen
(Laburnum anagyroides)
bloeiend
berceau
1 cultivar
Schijnaugurk
(Akebia quinata)
bloeiend
berceau
1 cultivar
Blauwe Regen
(Wisteria)
bloeiend
berceau
1 of meerdereBlauwe, witte of roze bloemtrossen.
Sterjasmijn
(Trachelospermum jasminoides)
bloeiend
berceau
1 cultivar
Peer
(Pyrus communis)
fruitberceau2 cultivarsT.b.v. kruisbestuiving twee cultivars planten met overlappende bloeiperiode en gelijksoortige groeiwijze.
Appel
(Malus domestica)
fruitberceau2 cultivarsT.b.v. kruisbestuiving twee cultivars planten met overlappende bloeiperiode en gelijksoortige groeiwijze.
Pruim
(Prunus domestica)
fruitberceau2 cultivarsT.b.v. kruisbestuiving twee cultivars planten met overlappende bloeiperiode en gelijksoortige groeiwijze.
Druif
(Vitis vinifera)
fruitberceau1 cultivarCv. ‘Boskoops Glorie’ geeft ook druiven. Cv. ‘Purpurea’ heeft aantrekkelijk blad.
Klimop
(Hedera)
wintergroen
berceau
Photo: Red and green patches of a green beech ( Fagus sylvatica ) and a red-leaved mutant thereof ( Fagus sylvatica 'Atropunicea' )
Tabel 1: Haagberceau aanleggen
Synonieme termen van haagberceau: tunnelhaag, groen gewelf.
Plant:Aantal cultivars
per berceau:
Toelichting:
Beuk
(Fagus sylvatica)
1 (of 2)Gebruik eventueel paarsbladige en groenbladige cultivars door elkaar.
Winterlinde
(Tilia cordata)
1
Klimop
(Hedera)
(1)Wintergroen

A tunnel hedge, also called foliage tunnel, green vault, tree tunnel or green vault looks like a green tunnel. Most popular are small-leaved tunnel hedges of Fagus sylvatica and Tilia cordata.

At planting you can plant either side in a single or double row of planting material. Using just a single row will result in a slim hedge and saves space. A double row will close earlier and has a more powerful appeal.

Number of Cultivars for an Espalier Fruit Tree Berceau​

Using just one cultivar for a fruit tree berceau is easiest to maintain and looks sleek and neat. However, do take into account cross-pollination favours fruit set. This favours a planting scheme with two alternating cultivars in each row of the berceau.

A fruit tree berceau limited to two cultivars is a good compromise between good pollination on the one hand and a sleek appearance on the other. Using three or even more fruit varieties often looks messy, because of differences in growh habit. A sleek and uniform appearance is certainly desirable for a berceau of espalier fruit trees.

If you opt for a fruit berceau with two fruit varieties, do check that both cultivars are mutually pollinating and have a fairly similar growth habit. For instance, they should have a similar vigor, and both bear fruit on short fruiting spurs.

In case only one cultivar is used for an espalier fruit tree berceau, you can attain good pollination by planting another cultivar nearby the berceau. For example, a row of step-over fruit trees running along both sides of the berceau (for an awesome look!). Or plant one or more ordinary fruit trees (standard or half-standard tree). For optimal pollination, you want to plant the standard trees on the windward side of the berceau, without putting the espalier trees in its shade too much.

Tabel 2: Fruitberceau aanleggen.
Aanbevolen plantensoorten en aantal gebruikte cultivars per berceau.
Plant:Aantal cultivars
per berceau:
Toelichting:
Peer
(Pyrus communis)
2 cultivarsT.b.v. kruisbestuiving twee cultivars planten met overlappende bloeiperiode en gelijksoortige groeiwijze.
Appel
(Malus domestica)
2 cultivarsT.b.v. kruisbestuiving twee cultivars planten met overlappende bloeiperiode en gelijksoortige groeiwijze.
Pruim
(Prunus domestica)
2 cultivarsT.b.v. kruisbestuiving twee cultivars planten met overlappende bloeiperiode en gelijksoortige groeiwijze.
Druif
(Vitis vinifera)
1 cultivarCv. ‘Boskoops Glorie’ geeft ook druiven. Cv. ‘Purpurea’ heeft aantrekkelijk blad.

Number of Cultivars for a Flowering Berceau

Considering a flowering berceau it is mainly a matter of personal taste whether you choose one or more cultivars.

For a berceau of roses, most often multiple cultivars are chosen, in different colors. This provides a multiple colours, but also extends flowering period. For this purpose select cultivars with overlapping flowering times.

Combinations of different plant genera are also possible, with rose and Clematis as a classic example. For this purpose provide a bright and airy location, to suppress fungal infestations.

For a berceau of Wisteria you can choose cultivars with blue, pink or white flowers.

Tabel: 3 Bloeiend berceau aanleggen.
Aanbevolen plantensoorten en aantal gebruikte cultivars.
Type berceau:Aantal cultivars
per berceau:
Toelichting:
Rozenberceau
(Rosa)
meerdereGebruik meerdere cultivars met verschillende bloeiperioden. Evt combineren met Clematis.
Clematis berceaumeerdereGebruik meerdere cultivars met verschillende bloeiperioden. Evt combineren met rozen.
Gouden Regen
(Laburnum anagyroides)
1 cultivar
Schijnaugurk
(Akebia quinata)
1 cultivar
Blauwe Regen
(Wisteria)
1 of meerdereBlauwe, witte of roze bloemtrossen.
Sterjasmijn
(Trachelospermum jasminoides)
1 cultivar

Examples of Berceaus

Berceau geleide fruitbomen met leifruit. Perenlaantje, Hendrik Ido Ambacht.

A fruit berceau of trained pear trees (6 cultivars) of 550 meters.

The longest berceau in the Netherlands.

Location: Perenlaantje 3344 HA Hendrik Ido Ambacht (walk out of the residential area and cross the Vrouwgelenweg).

Free access.

Berceau de la Reid / Haagbeuklaan van Haut-Marêt

A hedge plateau of 573 meters with 4700 hornbeams from 1885. The longest berceau in Europe.

Location: 4910 La Reid (Theux), between Chemin de Quarreux and Rue Hautregard, Belgium.

Admission: Free, from sunrise to sunset.

Berceau De Prinsentuin in Groningen

Circular hornbeam berceau from 1626 in a walled city garden.

Location: Turfsingel 41, 9712 KJ Groningen

Admission: Free, from sunrise to sunset.

Berceau De Groene Bedstee in Landgoed Mariëndaal.

A natural berceau 650 meters long with double rows of hornbeams dating from 1865. The trees are planted at an angle and the tops are tied together with iron wire at 4 meters.

A deciduous corridor of trees, without a frame, is also known as a tree leaf or tree vault.

Location: Landgoed Mariëndaal, Arnhem / Oosterbeek

Admission: Free, from sunrise to sunset.

Afbeelding: Haagberceau. De bogen van de loofgang staan los van elkaar.

Image: Haagberceau.

The arches of the foliage are separate from each other.

A foliage of freestanding vaulted arches with beech.

Location: Stationsweg 166A, 2161AM Lisse, in front of the Oranje Nassau building.

Access: see De Keukenhof; only open in spring.

Berceau op Landgoed De Braak in Paterswolde.

Natural beech bereau with treetops intertwined.

Location: Hoofdweg 266, 9765 CM Paterswolde.

Admission: Free, from sunrise to sunset.

Afbeelding: Berceau Fagus sylvatica.

Image: Berceau Fagus sylvatica.

Hornbeam berceau with imposing wooden beams.

Location: Royal Park 1, 7315 JA Apeldoorn

Access: see website Paleis Het Loo

Aesthetic Proportions

The proportions of a foliage walk are determined on the one hand by visually appealing ratios of the berceau construction and on the other hand the scale of the construction in relation to objects in the environment, such as a house. The growth properties of the plants (plant height, etc.) also have an influence.

For fruit berceaus with espaliered fruit trees, the chosen dimensions of the berceau strongly depend on:

  • espalier type
  • cultivar properties
  • soil type

A fruit tree berceau looks best by using just one or two cultivars, and using just a single espalier shape. For example only use vertical cordons or oblique palmettes.

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