Sunset in Sonoma: a magical test garden takes roots

Imagine walking through a tunnel of vine-draped arbors dripping with cherry tomatoes, surrounded by hues of purple and white echinacea, all while breathing in the intoxicating fragrance of flowering basil, lavender and French thyme. Sunset Magazine has created this sensory experience inside their new immersive test gardens, built on a philosophy of outdoor living that is central to the California lifestyle. We are thrilled that many of our sculptural arbors and trellises have been integrated into this magical public garden, which is featured in the October issue of Sunset Magazine

After nearly a lifetime in Menlo Park, Sunset Magazine’s test gardens and outdoor kitchens relocated across the San Francisco Bay to Cornerstone in Sonoma, California.

Though it is a bittersweet move, there is much to celebrate. The new test gardens are thirteen times bigger than the original, and many photoshoots for the magazine will take place there.  A few years ago, a kumquat Gracie Modern Arbor was integrated into the original test garden in Menlo Park, onto which Sunset Garden Editor Johanna Silver expertly trained scarlet runner beans one season and grapevines another.

In its new location, the test gardens embrace the surrounding wine country’s climate, beauty, and community. Johanna lead a collaborative team of innovative landscape designers, growers and craftspeople who contributed their amazing talents to help make these gardens come to life in just a few months time. It was such a pleasure to reunite with Silver and to work with Stephanie Bittner and her team at Homestead Design Collective who designed the gardens and incorporated a total of thirteen Terra Trellis pieces into their landscape design of this impressive  space.

 What began as a humble patch of dirt became a high concept garden of five different “rooms” meant to serve as aspirational lifestyle gardens. Custom sized Gracie Modern Arbors function as enchanting entryways throughout the grounds, all connected by meandering paths of gold decomosed granite. In The Farm room, four Gracie Modern Arbors form an allée between raised edible beds and bear climbing seasonal edible plants like heirloom cherry tomatoes (a different variety per trellis) and sweat peas. 

The allée of Gracies also forms a passageway to the charming Frank Lloyd Wright inspired greenhouse by Northwest Green Panels. Also in The Farm, raised beds support six of our Toki Bubble Trellises, each one used as a sturdy tomato cage growing heirloom tomatoes and underplanted with a bounty of eggplant, basil varieties and herbs.

Another Gracie Modern Arbor trains blackberry vines and is surrounded by a sea of echinacea and grasses. This leads into The Orchard and then to The Gathering Space, which serves as an outdoor living room. Another Gracie Modern Arbor supporting climbing David Austin Roses  leads into The Flower Room, which contains themed beds that provide cuttings for arrangements and botanical dye projects with plants like 'Harlequin' marigold and 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth. 

The Cocktail Garden is filled with verdant herbs and citrus, and at it's entry a Gracie Modern Arbor supports hop plants destined for brewing. Like the gardens themselves, each one of our zinc-colored pieces offer both form and function, providing support, and visual interest to the space.


The new Sunset test gardens at Cornerstone debuted to the public during Celebration Weekend in mid-May and remain open daily year-round. Cornerstone is conveniently located along one of the main gateways to both Napa and Sonoma wine countries and is a comfortable driving distance from San Francisco. There is no charge to browse the gardens and events like cooking demos, concerts, and art exhibitions are planned throughout the year. On October 16th, Johanna Silver will host a special dinner under the stars in the new gardens, a Field to Vase Dinner to celebrate American grown flowers.

Terra Trellis is thrilled and honored to be featured in this iconic public garden and the gorgeous six page spread in Sunset Magazine’s October issue as well as the digital version.  If you are in California wine country, be sure to stop by Cornerstone to experience our installations and explore Sunset's beautiful new test gardens.

Photos: Sunset Magazine, Homestead Design Collective, Terra Trellis
Newer Post Older Post