Lovin’ Life with Biophilic Design

Bring the outside in with a little help from the Trendy Gardener. Photo: Magali Merzougui 

Writer: James Augustus Baggett

Hunter Frescoln. Photo: Duane Tinkey

What started as a horticultural hobby for Hunter Frescoln has blossomed into an innovative business. During the pandemic, the Norwalk native decided to follow his passion into designing indoor spaces that connect people with nature.

Frescoln, 31, specializes in interior plantscaping, including vertical gardens and living walls, for both residential and commercial clients. Four years after he opened an online storefront called the Trendy Gardener, the business is now a 2,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar showroom with a rotating roster of hard-to-find houseplants on display in West Des Moines. More information about the business, including plant rentals, classes and even after-hours yoga sessions, is available online at trendygardenclub.com.

What did you do before launching the Trendy Gardener?

I was a kitchen and bath designer. Over eight years, I worked on countless residential remodels across multiple states. So transitioning to biophilic design was a natural progression, allowing me to integrate live plants and create visually stunning yet functional spaces.

What is biophilic design?

Biophilic design is all about enhancing our connection with nature. I use plants and other natural elements to create beautiful interior spaces that promote physical and mental well-being. Studies have shown that being surrounded by nature, even indoors, can reduce stress, improve productivity and enhance overall happiness. It’s amazing how something as simple as adding a few plants can transform a space and positively influence our lives.

Photo: Hunter Frescoln

What services does the Trendy Gardener offer?

We offer full-service plantscaping, both in our shop and in clients’ homes or offices. The range of services includes plant selection, diagnostics and treatment, sourcing live products and accessories, designing custom living wall installations and even offering “trendy pot box” subscriptions.

We source plants directly from greenhouses in Florida and Southern California and check them for quality. And for each of our online orders, we partner with Ecologi, which plants trees to rebuild forests all over the world. We make many of our own pots with custom molds and pigments and source others from Kanso Designs, which creates pots and accessories out of recycled materials.

How does plant leasing work?

With our plantscape subscriptions, our experts take care of everything, including pot selection and weekly all-inclusive maintenance that frees customers from the stress of plant care and allows them to switch out unhappy plants on demand. It’s a much more cost-effective option compared to purchasing plants and committing to a long-term maintenance plan.

Photo: Hunter Frescoln

Why do you think houseplants have become more popular these days?

They’ve definitely become a phenomenon because of their health benefits and aesthetic appeal and the ways they promote mindfulness. They purify the air, create a connection to nature and elevate the visual appeal of any space. As urban living and limited outdoor spaces prevail, houseplants provide an avenue for gardening and nurturing living organisms. Their popularity has soared, thanks to social media inspiration and their role in wellness practices.

What are some of the most popular plants right now?

Variegated philodendrons, like “Snowdrift” and the tricolor “White Princess” are in high demand. So are monsteras, like “Thai Constellation,” and some anthuriums. Carnivorous plants, like pitcher plants, and trailing plants, like string of hearts, string of pearls and string of dolphins, have also become immensely popular.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Seeing clients’ reactions as they step into my shop or experience my designs for the first time in their homes. I find a lot of joy in building harmonious environments where tropical plants can thrive and where people can connect through a shared love for nature.

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