Hanging out with the birds and the bees

Posted by Terra Trellis on February 16, 2015

Since we last wrote about our Bee Bungalows and offered ideas to nurture native pollinators in the landscape, we noticed an uptick of interest and sales of our feeders and bungalows.  We are thrilled that awareness is growing as to the importance of native birds and bees frequenting backyards and public gardens.

Even in our own yards we’ve noticed that our Bee Bungalow and Bird Cafe are pretty popular places to hang.


And that got us thinking.

Not long after that revelation, we launched our new Hanging Bee Bungalow and Hanging Bird Cafe. Originally, when we designed these two garden pieces, we made them mountable on our Akoris Garden Tuteur.  But we knew we were on to something when we hung them from the branches of a tree, admiring the raw steel finish set against nature’s other raw finish—bark. Birds immediately welcomed the hanging sculpture in the garden (a good sign).


Hanging and suspending sculpture can be just as evocative as art that’s mounted on a structure or on the ground, providing an alternate perspective to appreciate its placement (and often movement) within a setting. 

Alexander Calder’s (1898-1976) kinetic mobiles are a perfect example of this idea that sculpture can have movement and fluidity. His mobile sculptures (exhibited at MOMA, LACMA and SFMOMA) were the inspiration for other twentieth-century sculptors like George Rickey (The Getty Museum). Some say that Calder’s mobiles alluded to nature’s movement—those of leaves, birds, and insects.

Japanese-American artist Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) created large and intricate suspended crocheted wire structures, among other pieces of sculpture and art. She too found inspiration from nature when she created her wire sculpture, drawing from childhood memories of diverging and converging lines in the sand. Her wire sculptures (exhibited at de Young Museum) were created to be enjoyed from various angles, moving freely within a larger space.

So what does twentieth-century sculpture have to do with Terra Trellis’ hanging habitats?

Nature, art, science, form, and function—the convergence of all these elements was the initial inspiration for our sculpture work. It’s what we think about when we design each new piece. The interplay between our pieces and nature, and how our clients (and garden wildlife) react to this “dance”, keeps us motivated.

We also spent some time hanging out in the garden with our friends Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit, the dynamic team behind The Horticult. Chantal and Ryan recently dropped by for a chat and photo shoot of our sculpture garden. The Q & A, which you can read here, was so much fun, and it was great to share some of our new works, like the hanging habitats, and several other new limited edition Terra Sculpture pieces.

We were also thrilled to see our Bee Bungalow hanging under the canopy of a flowering/fruiting tangerine tree in the Horticult's very own garden, near the beach in La Jolla, California. Native bees will soon be moving in to this sculptural habitat, getting to work pollinating all of the wonders growing in the Horticult’s botanical paradise.







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Garden Like the French

Posted by Terra Trellis on September 24, 2014

We’ve come to expect a lot from the French: a chic sense of style, impeccably executed food, fine wine, and an envious lifestyle. But garden design principles?

Kitchen edible gardenAbove: French countryside potager...or a Pennsylvania farmhouse garden?

While most landscape architecture is a fusion of many styles and influencers, it is the French and their contributions that have truly inspired our designs at TerraTrellis. (This realization became even more evident after reading this article on the modern French garden in Gardenista). We’re not purists: in addition to the French, our work also takes note from the simplicity of Japanese and Danish design, to the looseness of the English garden.

Above: A Gracie Modern Arbor supports Cecile Bruner Climbing Rose creating a gateway to a raised potager/herb garden. Garden design by Boxleaf Design, as seen in Houzz.com. 

Classic French garden design is based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order on nature. Like the French garden, our trellises speak to the juxtaposition of architectural form in controlled chaos. 

French parterre garden lavenderAbove: classic French parterre garden. 

Trellises provide the support for plants that grow with abandon and aren’t easily contained like a boxwood or similar shrubs (so commonly seen in French parterre gardens). And our trellises have dual purpose: guiding a growing plant while enhancing the garden with grace and shape.

Above: TerraTrellis Akoris Garden Tuteur supports beans in a Pennsylvania farmhouse garden.

Vegetable, herb and kitchen gardens are patterned after the French potager, perhaps the original raised kitchen garden.

Above: raised corten steel planters create a modern and beautiful kitchen garden paired with the Akoris Garden Tuteur. Garden design by Elow Landscape Design

Our modern Akoris Garden Tuteurs are true to the classic French tuteur (which means to “teach” or “train”) and are used as artful supports in modern edible gardens and potagers from Pennsylvania to California, just as the French tuteurs were intended.

 Above: Purple Hyacinth Bean is woven into a TerraTrellis Ina Wall Trellis creating a natural tapestry.  

While the classic French fruit espalier was on our mind when designing our vertical Ina Wall Trellis, a great inspiration for creating a natural tapestry came from the vertical walls originated by French botanist (and genius designer) Patrick Blanc. Our Gracie Modern Arbor and Lazio Vase Trellis provide geometrical context from which landscape foundations are drawn and were influenced by the trellising at Monet’s Giverny

Above: Lavender fields in the French countryside.  

There are also French influences in our color palette. Stunning washes of purple-blue are seen in lavender fields across the Provence region of France, providing the color inspiration for our custom trellis powdercoat color Berry.

Now, if only our trellises could convey the intoxicating scent of these splendid Provencal lavender fields… and the smell of warm croissants and perhaps a fresh baguette. Ça c'est bon!  



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Say hello to the modern Tipi Trellis and Tomato Cage

Posted by Terra Trellis on July 27, 2014

After several years in the making, we couldn’t wait to debut our most recent trellis designs, the Annabel Tipi Trellis and the Geo Tomato Cage, at Dwell on Design in Los Angeles. This was our third year exhibiting at this giant design event, the ultimate indoor/outdoor playground for people sourcing modern living products, innovations, and ideas.

Jennifer Gilbert Asher Dwell Magazine

Design lovers, design pros and design journalists (over 30,000!) flock here each year for a dose of inspiration. The feedback we received on our modern tomato cage and tipi trellis was beyond positive! Over the course of the three-day event, we often found visitors of all ages taking respite under our Annabel Tipi Trellis. 

Though drastically different in size, both of these new sculptural trellises do a super job at supporting climbing ornamentals and edibles. Many people commented how rare it was to see sculpture in the garden used so efficiently.

Our Geo Tomato Cage can corral tomatoes like nobody’s business, all while juxtaposing the structure’s modern lines and bright colors with the wildness of the plant’s branches, growth pattern and earthy colors. The Geo Cages are stackable and sold in pairs.  They will be available  in trios for tomatoes or other veggies that might outgrow the traditional tomato cage.



Besides the wonderful mentions from revered design and lifestyle blogs like Lonny and Casa Sugar  (thank you!) we received some fantastic press from the Los Angeles Times Home & Design section which featured the Annabel Tipi Trellis below in their gallery of photos from Dwell on Design.   

A couple of weeks later, Los Angeles Times contributor Debra Prinzing featured our Annabel Tipi Trellis in a story about tips on gardening during a drought while keeping landscapes beautiful.

We always come away from Dwell on Design inspired by the palpable creativity—from our peer innovators to new clients and design professionals we meet. We want to especially thank the talented design team at Shades of Green Landscape Architecture who’s inspired vision and execution of the entire Dwell Outdoor space make our products shine at at the show each year. Looking forward to doing it again in 2015!


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Our garden hero: the Bee

Posted by Terra Trellis on April 16, 2014

At TerraTrellis we have a serious case of garden fever. It’s April, after all. Things are blooming, the weather is warming, and every time we check our inbox we’re reading about spring gardening tasks and swooning over garden landscapes, spring plants, and the upcoming edible bounty.

But, let’s face it. Gardening is hard work, and it takes more than a few weekend’s worth of tilling and digging to get the garden up and running every growing season. A garden’s success relies on an army of support staff, including the insect kind.

photo by Christine Casey, UC Davis                                    photo by Christine Casey, UC Davis 

This post is about the unsung heroes of the garden. Yes, often honey bees get all the glory: socializing, colonizing, and literally dying for their queen. But native bees, some of them solitary, have an equally important role in the garden.  Native bees, including the bumble bee the carpenter bee and the mason bee, pollinate the flowers we fawn over and the fruits and vegetables we bring to the table.

                                      photo by Daniel Schwen

But new research suggests that bumble bees, one of more than 4,000 native bee species in the United States that supports our agricultural economy, are threatened, according to a report by the Nature Conservancy.  And as the natural phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder continues to threaten and shrink the honey bee population with a deadly combination of virus, pest, and bad agricultural management within a monoculture environment, it’s more important than ever that we pay attention to pollinators like native bees.

Commercial farmers are implementing new techniques, or revisiting traditional farming practices, to offset the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder, as reported in a recent New York Times article. Home gardeners can also do simple things to support these important pollinators. The least we can do is create a hospitable environment for them and entice them to stick around in our yard.

Before native bees can get busy in the garden, they need a place to nest.  We created our Bee Bungalow to support the native bee habitat with hand cut reeds and hollowed branches where they build their solitary nests. A native bee’s lifecycle is short, but our Bee Bungalow is in the garden year round, providing a safe place for generations of native mason bees to rest and nest and do their thing.

                                                        photo of TerraTrellis Bee Bungalow by Rob Wilson/Silas Tom

Even our other trellises like the Mira Garden Trellis and Akoris Garden Tuteur “support” native bees with their functionality. Flowering vines and climbing veggies, when grown on a garden trellis, elevate the colorful blossoms that they are drawn to.

Besides our Bee Bungalow, there are several other ways in which we can attract and retain native pollinators like native bees in our backyard.

Create a diverse plant palette

Diversity in the garden means that no one plant will throw off the garden’s ecological balance. Providing a smorgasbord of plant pollen and nectar with a variety of flower landing pads and pollinator receptacles welcomes a variety of pollinators. Consider plants like California poppy, wild mint, bush anemone, and zinnias. Mix it up with varieties, colors and textures of all kinds.

Avoid Pesticides in the garden

Every time a pollinator lands and feeds or drinks from a flower that has been treated with some form of chemical, that chemical is carried back to its nest and spread to other pollinators.

Plant perennial shrubs en masse

Many pollinators are more productive when they have a wide swath of flowers from which to forage. They’re also more likely to revisit your garden if they have a large area to cover. A flowering shrub, like rosemary or sage, is ideal.

Year-round bloom

Depending on the climate, some native bees begin emerging as early as January. Early blooming plants like manzanita provide pollen and nectar once they emerge. Even late fall blooming annuals can support native bees until they die off. The important thing is to provide plants that can support the different types of native bees for as long as possible.

                                                          photo by Christine Casey, UC Davis 

Want to learn more?

The Xerces Society has a Pollinator Conservation Resource Center that includes a state-by-state resource list including bee-friendly plants. It’s a collaboration with the University of California, Davis, which is one of the country’s leading academic institutions on native pollinators. The university’s Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, has an open-to-the-public Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, provides a wealth of information on native bee habitats and honey bee habitats. 

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The beauty of a winter's garden

Posted by Terra Trellis on March 07, 2014

As a large part of the nation continues to be blanketed in snow, we here on the West Coast are reminded of our easygoing climate, year round planting opportunities, and perpetual state of renewal.  But there’s something to be said for the unique beauty of winter’s dormant nature as the soil quiets itself in a slumbering stillness.


We recently received correspondence from a TerraTrellis customer and we were awestruck by the beauty of her photos and words, describing her historic Pennsylvania farmhouse garden still covered in snow. Her photographs and prose remind us that our artful trellises, though striking when interwoven with vines and blossoms, can be just as impactful when placed thoughtfully in a landscape, snow and all.                                

We’re inspired by her love of her garden, her hopefulness and anticipation for the seasons to come. In her own words: 

Dear TerraTrellis,

I have enclosed some winter photos which highlight how your structures add beauty and interest to an otherwise bare garden.  In the first photo, you can see the tops of the tuteurs peeking over the fence in front of the barn, hinting at something interesting beyond.  The photos below show the structure of the garden beds and how I incorporated the tuteurs and the Toki bubbles as well as copper arches (used to support row covers and repeat the oxide color of your structures) and galvanized metal fence panels (which repeat and emphasize the color of the metal balls on top of the tuteurs).  Although covered with snow and bare of plants, my view into the garden gives me hope that our seemingly never-ending winter will not last forever...


We live just outside Philadelphia on a horse farm.  The structures on the property date back to 1790.  We are only the sixth owners of the property, and as far as we know, it has always functioned as a small family farm with crops and livestock.  These days our crops are limited to those grown in the kitchen garden, and our livestock consists of horses, chickens (for the eggs) and a fledgling hive of honeybees.  The barn and house have been updated to accommodate today's necessities but retain much of the history and charm of yesteryear.  We have several perennial gardens throughout the property as well as the kitchen garden.  My goal with the kitchen garden was to create a space that combined my appreciation for art, my passion for gardening and my love of cooking.  It includes a series of raised beds and growing structures containing espaliered apple trees, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry bushes and permanent beds for asparagus and strawberries.  We rotate our favorite spring and summer herbs and vegetables among the other beds and attempt to grow everything organically with very limited use of chemicals as they are harmful to our bees.  I love the challenge of finding the right combination of plants that compliment each other's structures and needs.  We gladly share the bounty of our farm with our neighbors and preserve much of our harvest to enjoy during the remainder of the year.  

By the way, the ladies from my garden club love your products as much as I do and I have passed your information on to them.                     

Think spring!




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