Debra Prinzing

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Suburban Follies: the “sheds” starred at this garden party

May 31st, 2008

I’m joined by my friend and party hostess Kathy Fries. We’re standing in front of her rustic shack-turned-Doge’s Palace, built by John Akers

The Seattle sun was shining, perhaps a little too brightly, on Saturday, May 17th. In fact, I heard later that temperatures reached close to 90 degrees, a record high for that date in history.

Kathy Fries, aka Shed Diva (she owns four of them!) and her cast of talented gardener helpers, nannies and caterers, threw an unforgettable garden party to celebrate the launch of Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways. Scheduled as an open-garden, which encouraged guests to stroll the peaceful, shady paths through the Fries property, the party paid homage to the fanciful little buildings we captured in the book. The man of the hour, shed-builder John Akers, was “missing,” but we know he likes to avoid crowds. His artistry was well received, oohed and aah-ed over, and festooned with bouquets and champagne. Good job, John! Wish you had come!

The menu included plump strawberries with brown sugar and Devonshire cream, meringue cookies, little sandwiches, iced tea, champagne . . . all served on Kathy’s potting bench-buffet

With more than 120 in attendance, the three-hour event was a bit of a whirlwind. Bill Wright and I felt like we signed books nonstop, greeted friends, hugged and thanked the owners of no fewer than 10 of the sheds featured in our book, and then signed more books. Gillian Mathews of Ravenna Gardens was our cheerful bookseller. She figured out how to get a copy of Stylish Sheds into the hands of anyone who wanted one, even if that meant raiding Kathy’s personal stash or taking orders once she ran out of inventory. We were truly touched with her support. You can find signed copies of Stylish Sheds at her stores.

Xander Fries, collecting eggs for the pages of our book [William Wright photo]

Thank you, Kathy and Ed: you threw a doozie of a party. I have spent many fond hours in this magical landscape, but honestly, it has never looked more beautiful. The flowers bloomed larger and brighter, the vines threw out new, spring-green tendrils, the ferns glistened in the dappled light. Our guest-signer, Xander Fries, who is featured on page 73 collecting eggs from the Palais de Poulets, charmed guests by autographing “his page” of the book.

A highlight for me was seeing so many dear friends in my (former) Seattle gardening community. It has been nearly two years since I left for LA, and it was a treat to return for this celebration. Owners of all nine Washington sheds featured in our pages came to help celebrate. Without them, we wouldn’t have completed this awesome project and we are honored they came and helped mark the publication!

Bill, Steven and Sylvia Williams, and me

But the prize goes to Sylvia and Steven Williams, who traveled from Texas to attend the party! Only two weeks after throwing a party for us at Stonebridge, their garden in Bertram, Syliva and Steven flew to Seattle to join us. They represented their home state in Texas style, dazzling everyone with their out-sized friendship, not to mention cowboy hats.


The party treats were simply fabulous, including Kathy’s elegant version of my amateurish “shed cookies.” She gets the “Martha Prize” for decorating with a piping tube and marbling the frosting. Really, Kathy. You are amazing.


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