Today’s guest, Jen Asher, founder of Terra Trellis needs little introduction. Her vibrant creations are the architectural splendors modern gardens are made of. She’s been featured in Sunset Magazine’s new book on small space gardening and her designs can be found in gardens throughout the country.
We were first introduced to Terra Trellis when doing research for an interview we were featured in several years ago. We remember suggesting the Gracie Arbor for the garden project we consulted about. Fast forward to our recent collaboration with The Horticult where we were happily acquainted in their garden with the Bee Bungalow. That afternoon I said, “I really need to interview Jen Asher and meet her in person!” And voila, here she is today. Let’s start with a view of our favorites, then get chatting.
Garden Eats: What’s new for TerraTrellis and TerraSculpture coming this Spring and Summer?
JA: We are very excited to introduce the Annabel Tipi Trellis and the Quinn Sculptural Tomato Cage. Both of these sculptural trellises have been in the works for a long time. They are fun architectural pieces for the edible or ornamental garden and perform very well as plant supports.
GE: We were so thrilled that you blogged about bees as the “unsung heroes” in the garden and that you mentioned how important their well-being depends on avoiding pesticide use. Can you tell us a little bit about how your smartly designed Bee Bungalow helps bees thrive in the garden?
JA: A vibrant blooming garden needs pollinators and beneficial bugs. Our Bee Bungalow provides a sculptural nesting opportunity for solitary Mason Bees which are incredible pollinators. The Bee Bungalow contains hand-cut natural lake bed reeds and drilled-out branches with a variety of openings for bees to make their home. They nest and lay eggs in the reeds and branches. It’s a wonderful addition to the garden ecosystem.
GE: How about butterflies? Our rule of thumb is no pesticides. Do you have any tips to attract vibrant Monarchs?
JA:Butterflies are great partners to have in the garden. Not only are they beautiful, they are amazing pollinators. The National Wildlife Federation has some great tips for attracting butterflies to the garden, including planting natives, choosing flower colors and shapes that are attractive to butterflies, and of course NO PESTICIDES! Monarch butterflies are extremely drawn to milkweed which is a stunning complement to our trellises.
JA: All of our trellises are extremely sturdy and designed for gardens in every climate. They are fine to leave out year-round.
GE: We really enjoy consulting to new restaurants ready to create edible kitchen gardens. Many of these clients are starved for space so we’re always looking for practical and aesthetic ways to get them growing. Which TerraTrellis might be good to maximize space in a vertical garden or small area?
JA: Sunset Magazine actually just published a book called “Small Space Gardening” and featured our Gracie Modern Arbor as an element. In the Sunset Magazine test garden, garden editor Johanna Silver trains aggressively climbing edibles like scarlett runner beans and now grape vines on the arbor. The arbor does double duty as a moon gate into their amazing test garden. To maximize space in a small garden or patio, our Mira Garden Trellis and Ina Wall Trellis are fantastic for vertical gardens. The new Quinn Sculptural Tomato Cage sits on both the earth or a patio and is much stronger (and more beautiful) than the typical flimsy tomato cages you find at garden centers.
GE: You’ve likely been pleasantly surprised by the unique uses of your trellis’. What are one or two noteworthy, inspirational features you’ve come across?
JA: We’ve been amazed to see the variety of inventive TerraTrellis installations. One client has only a narrow planter in front of her house and trained cherry tomatoes to climb up her Gracie Arbor. Landscape Designer Elizabeth Low uses Akoris Garden Tuteurs as sculptural support in an raised edible table. My friend Hillary Danner integrated several Akoris Garden Tuteurs and Ina Wall Trellises in her amazing urban garden (Highland Park- smack in the middle of Los Angeles). Hillary’s garden is magical- she grows all kinds of edibles that she uses in her delicious pepper jellies. (Jenkins Jellies!). The trellises provide support for her edibles during growing season and when the garden is dormant the trellises provide color and sculptural interest.
GE: Dwell on Design is coming up this June in LA. Will you be showcasing new design?
JA: Yes! We will have several Annabel Tipi Trellises and an entire raised garden bed with our new geometric tomato cages debuting at Dwell On Design this year.
GE: Any words of wisdom on form meets function to inspire new gardeners and help keep their momentum up in the garden?
JA: New gardeners should be open to experimentation because each garden has it’s own special microclimate. Do your best to create a hospitable growing environment but don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look like it jumped out of the pages of Sunset Magazine! I think it’s important to have some architectural structure in the garden. By integrating beautiful trellises or pots, you’ll be assured it will always LOOK great, no matter the condition of the plants or the season! I also love to mix in low-maintenance sculptural plants like succulents amongst the edible garden.
GE: Thanks so much for joining us today Jen!