Debra Prinzing

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Archive for June, 2011

Container Design Lecture

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Do your containers make you happy? SCOTT EKLUND Photograph, 1997

Do you find container design a frustration?

A terra cotta heart-shaped container, filled with succulents.

Recently, Andrew Buchanan, a photographer friend and former Seattle Post-Intelligencer colleague, told me that is the best value for scanning 35mm slides into digital files. It costs about $1.00 per slide, which is a good bargain compared with $2.50 per slide that local labs charge. 

As an experiment, I sent 44 cardboard- and plastic-framed slides that have resided for years in a Kodak carousel tray to to see what they could do.

Kay at emailed the files to me today – just in time for tomorrow’s lecture.  As it turns out, the digitals seem crisper and brighter than the originals…and they can be manipulated, cropped and re-sized. Pretty handy! 

Happily, my talk’s opening slides look great. And they are very sweet. The little boy you see above as a baby and at left as a bored toddler who I dragged to a container plant trial is now 14 years old, about to begin High School in the fall. Time certainly flies – in the garden . . . and with children!

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Concrete orb how-to

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Here's the photo that inspired readers to ask: How do you make these cool orbs?

Last summer, I wrote a little piece about using orbs in the garden. Better Homes & Gardens illustrated the words with a photo depicting a trio of concrete spheres that looked like they were stained a denim blue color. Really pretty.

I posted two photo galleries of spherical ideas, emphasizing design principles for using circular and round elements in the landscape, but people still wanted to know how to make those concrete balls!

Fortunately, I found the instructions, posted by Fairegardens, a blog based in Tennessee. Francis of Fairegardens is heading to Seattle this summer to attend the Garden Bloggers Fling, an event that I’m organizing with three other writers, so it will be fun to meet in person!

Frances not only explains how to make these balls (which she first saw done on an HGTV program), she also goes into great detail on the steps, shares a supply list and many photos of the progress.

She calls these Hypertufa balls, but  explains that quikcrete mix can also be used. I hope this gets you motivated to make a big mess for satisfying results!

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Contemporary trellises for your upwardly-mobile plants

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

 Note: a version of this story appeared in the print edition of last Saturday’s LA Times HOME section and in today’s LA Times @ Home blog.

Jennifer Gilbert Asher and Karen Neill of TerraTrellis

This is their beautiful "Gracie" arbor, inspired by the shape of nursery hoop houses

Instead of a spindly, mass-produced support for your rose or bougainvillea, why not give that over-achiever a sturdy structure on which to climb? And why not train those vines and tendrils on a framework that’s both artful and functional?

Los Angeles landscape designer and artist Jennifer Gilbert Asher has reinterpreted classic garden ornamentation into modern, colorful – and durable forms.  Her TerraTrellis collection of steel tuteurs, arbors and wall trellises offers a stylish alternative to the type of generic (and often impermanent) metal and wood pieces you might find online or at big-box stores.

The pod-like 'Toki,' which Jennifer says was inspired by a Faberge egg!

“Playful architectural forms and compelling colors in the garden are what’s behind this collection,” says Asher, who also creates more expensive works of modern outdoor sculpture through TerraSculpture, a studio co-owned by Karen Neill. Pieces in the TerraTrellis collection range from $279 to $579.

Like the studio’s larger sculpture pieces, TerraTrellis’s pieces are fabricated by Mario Lopez, who runs a metal studio in south Los Angeles. The steel pieces are hand-welded and use stainless-steel hardware and cables. They are oxide-finished or cloaked in a joyous array of powder-coated colors like kumquat, berry and leaf.

Familiar forms from public gardens and even the agricultural landscape inspire the designs.

Here's the lovely color palette ranging from oxidized steel to powder-coat finishes

For example, the lines of TerraTrellis’s “Gracie Modern Arbor,” which looks like a 76-inch diameter double-circle emerging from a pathway, echo the shape of hoop houses that dot Southern California’s plant nurseries. The 58-inch high “Lazio Vase Trellis” is a scaled-down homage to the giant rebar artifices that contain riotous bougainvillea at the Getty Center’s Central Garden.

“These pieces are designed not only to support a plant, but to integrate with it,” Asher says. “This union ultimately forms a work of freestanding, living art in the landscape. We want people to tap into their inner landscape designer and have fun exploring interesting combinations of plant with trellis.”

Pot-ted ( in L.A.’s Los Feliz neighborhood will carry the TerraTrellis collection. You can also order the pieces online at

Here are some other designs in the collection – perfect for your stylish potager or rose border!

Lazio, trellis inspired by the majestic rebar structures that hold bougainvillea vines at The Getty Center

Ina, like a picture frame, for your wall or fence.

Akoris, a leaf green French-style tuteur, with a sculpted wire orb on top.

Detail, showing stainless steel cabling.

How about a pair of vertical trellises for your fence?

This one stands freely, like an artist's easel

Is pink this year's unexpected surprise color for the garden?

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