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Good to Grow: Charming trellises for the creative gardener


A clematis violet star on a garden shed trellis, with golden poet’s jasmine against a laurel hedge in the background.

As I write this, the weather outside is warm and windy and I can’t get enough of it. I can’t think of anything that lifts the spirits as effortlessly as the sun on my skin and the breeze in my hair.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, with deliciously clement weather beckoning you from the window, then might I recommend taking up a project in the garden to soothe that ache that winter sometimes leaves in the dusty corners of our minds?

I myself have been thinking dreamily of adding a new trellis to my garden. There’s something about the juxtaposition of structure and rhythm in man-made frameworks and the rambling charm of nature. I’m fond of using sculptural art, swirling metal-works or geometric abstractions to hold up my vining plantlife.

If that sounds complicated or expensive, I promise, it doesn’t have to be. Before I was ever a gardener, I was a crafter. I adore upcycling and putting old or unusual things to new use.

Trellises aren’t nearly as straightforward as they’re made out to be. Just about anything that has a vertical dimension can be made into a trellis, or at the very least, can be incorporated into a trellis.

I’ve come across a few trellises that were made of old bicycle wheels lashed together with plastic ties and supported with a simple wooden post or framework. Those trellises were being used more out of practicality than aesthetic, but it wouldn’t be difficult or expensive to make their practicality into your art project. A simple coat of spray paint could turn an assortment of bike rims into a copper sculpture or a lime-green oddity peering out from under your honeysuckle.

Some other favorite upcycling materials that make excellent trellises are old wagon wheels, doors, window frames, metal headboards from bed frames and even chandeliers. If an item has too much space between its pieces, garden twine or wire can be strung in the spaces for extra vine support. And you’d be surprised what a coat of paint and strategic placement will do for the aesthetics.

But perhaps you prefer a trellis that’s more tailor-made to your tastes. I get that. Let me tell you about the trellis I’ve been dreaming of.

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a Hobby Lobby, you’ll know they’ve got a lot of oddities along with all of their crafting supplies. They have a number of ready-made trellises you might enjoy, but one of my favorite sections is their wall decor.

They have a robust assortment of metal and wood art pieces, featuring everything from swirls, filigree and fleurs de lis, to sternwheels, stylized window frames and metalwork flowers. While some of these items aren’t necessarily made for the great outdoors, a protective spray coating applied once or twice a year can easily overcome that issue.

My plan is to buy an eclectic assortment of these and apply them to the side of my house in a staggered ladder climbing the wall. I want to mix it up too. We’re talking angles and swirls, wood meeting metal in a glorious tangle of funky style.

What I love about this idea is that during the winter months, the trellis can double as a sort of art piece, assuming you use it for annuals or for perennials that need to be cut back each year. I think mine will be just about perfect for a late-blooming clematis.

Even if you prefer a more traditional approach to your trellises, you can still tweak and play with the design. I’ve seen some gorgeous wooden trellises that use a three-dimensional element which elevates them from pure practicality into the artistic.

Trellises made with rough branches, twigs and twine can add a rustic element to the garden. And for the whimsically minded, a garden arch can be made easily using some cattle panel, PVC pipe and a spray paint of choice. I saw someone charmingly use a similar arch for their squash vines.

So let’s see if we can’t expand the definition of trellis a bit and flex our creative muscles while we’re soaking up the sun.

Brit is a writer, artist and plant enthusiast living in Charleston. She is part of the talented team at Flowerscape as a design assistant. She comes to gardening from an artistic angle and wants to bring her love of color, vibrancy and storytelling to landscaping. Her current projects include a series of novels and a video blog. Brit can be contacted at

Funerals Today, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Armstead, David - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.

Crawford, Charles - 7:30 p.m., Andrews' residence, Belleaire at Devonshire, Scott Depot.

Duff, Catherine Ann - 11 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Jarrett, Shirley - 1 p.m., Mt. Juliet United Methodist Church, Belle.

Lawrentz, Deo Mansfried - 11 a.m., Koontz Cemetery, Clendenin.

McGraw, Judy Fay - 2 p.m., Jodie Missionary Baptist Church, Jodie.

Mullins, Alice Ellen (Blessing) - Noon, Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Staats, Anthony Vernon “Tony” - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.