Debra Prinzing

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Sending prayers to San Diego

October 22nd, 2007

I spent Saturday and Sunday visiting some incredible gardens in San Diego County, while attending the October board meeting of Pacific Horticulture Foundation.


The Water Conservation Garden’s engaging signage both educates and inspires homeowners to consider low-water landscape design

With my friends and fellow board members, I enjoyed touring innovative public gardens and inspiring private gardens, including the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon and the private gardens of Judy Bradley & David Mitchell (in Del Mar) and Lani & Larry Freymiller (in Rancho Santa Fe).


A charming seating area at Lani and Larry Freymiller’s


A view of Kathy Lafleur’s new art studio – through the arbor

Lorene Edwards Forkner and I had the added bonus of staying for two nights at the guest house of avid gardener Kathy Lafleur and her husband Tom, who have turned an aging garden and neglected parcel of land in Rancho Santa Fe into a highly personal, artistic, soulful oasis.

Now, twenty-four hours after we left San Diego to drive north (dropping Lorene at Burbank Airport around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday), we have learned the horrifying news that the wildfires have forced our friends to evacuate their properties.


Tom wrote: Remember what it looked like at 9am Sunday when you were here?? this is 9am Monday…winds are >40mph, we are on a mandatory evacuation all the way to hy 5…  250,000 people are asked to move out of their homes, 125,000 ac of fires burning!!

This morning, Tom Lafleur sent me a few photos of their garden (including the rose pergola, above), illustrating the devastation of the Santa Ana winds sweeping through the county, toppling trees, sending branches falling, and knocking over garden furniture. I worry that the fires will do even further damage – as Rancho Santa Fe is in the path of fast-moving flames.

Please keep these gardeners – and everyone in San Diego County whose homes are in the line of spreading wildfires – in your prayers. I heard from San Diego garden writer Nan Sterman tonight, a huge relief after no word since she sent out a very brief “I’m about to be evacuated” email this morning. She and her family (and dog) are safe, staying with friends in north San Diego County.

As for my family and home in Thousand Oaks, the good news is that so far, we’re only worried about the smoke and poor air quality. Fires are still raging to the north, west and south – about 10 to 15 miles in each direction. This is our introduction to yet another one of the vagaries of living in Southern California!

One Response to “Sending prayers to San Diego”

  1. Teresa Says:

    Would like to see a picture of the garden this year, now that the fires are but a memory.

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