Debra Prinzing

Get the Email Newsletter!

SLOW FLOWERS Podcast: Peonies from America’s Last Frontier (Episode 102)

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
I'm standing in a Homer, Alaska, peony field at Scenic Place Peonies. It's owned by Beth Van Sandt and Kurt Weichhand - check out the views!!!

I’m standing in a Homer, Alaska, peony field at Scenic Place Peonies. It’s owned by Beth Van Sandt and Kurt Weichhand – check out the views!!!

Last summer I visited Alaska and toured about 12 cut peony farms from Fairbanks to Homer – in one week! It was a wonderful trip, made all the more special because of the many cool, welcoming flower farmers I met along the way. They hosted me for meals, spent quality time walking and talking with me along the rows of robust and beautiful plants, lent me a bed for the night, and generally adopted me into their Alaska Peony Tribe! If you want to learn more about the Peony Growers of Alaska and how to order cut flowers from some of them directly, visit the Alaska Peony Growers’ web site.

It was a thoroughly freeing time for me as a journalist because I was my own client. No editor gave me the assignment. No publication had their dibs on how the story would be reported. I used my Alaska Airlines’ frequent flier miles to book my flight into Anchorage and then rented a car with another set of airline miles.

I made reservations to tour Denali National Park on the first day – mainly because Dr. Pat Holloway, my trip advisor, insisted that I couldn’t just drive past the majestic national park while seeking peony farms! After that first day, I spent the following seven preoccupied with peonies, their cultivation, harvest, post-harvest care and ultimate journey to the hands of satisfied customers. It was pretty sweet – and I can’t wait to get back. I wrote a fun post about the week in Alaska here.

Alaska august 2013 coverOther than selling a *tiny* story about Alaska peonies to Sunset magazine, I am happy to announce that my first big editorial placement appears in the current issue of Alaska Airlines magazine. How fitting! You can read the feature here [PDF].

This week’s podcast features interviews with the owners of two farms I visited during my tour. First, you’ll hear my conversation with Rita Jo Shoultz of Alaska Perfect Peony in Fritz Creek on the Kenai Peninsula, one of the first growers to jump in feet first to plant peony roots. You will hear the sounds of nature around us, as we sat in her garden near the pond to talk. For some crazy reason, Nicco, her cat, was fascinated with the audio recorder’s microphone. You’ll hear a few bumps in the audio, thanks to the curious cat!

Here are some photos from Alaska Perfect Peonies:


Rita Jo with red peony

Rita Jo with a double-headed peony that we discovered in her growing fields. 



Autumn Gardens in Oregon

Monday, October 27th, 2008

An early morning scene outside the guest room window at Mary-Kate Mackey’s in Eugene

October in Oregon – you can’t beat it. Earlier this month, I traveled there to lecture to the Hardy Plant Group of Willamette Valley.

Returning to my beloved roots, in the Pacific Northwest, was such a treat, especially since it is still wickedly hot down here in LA and I am desperate for some moist, cool autumnal weather.

And oh, the gardens!

Mary-Kate Mackey, fellow garden writer and a gifted journalism educator, met me at the airport. It was fun to fly into this sleek, modern, small airport and arrive via Horizon Airlines (they serve complimentary Pacific Northwest ale on board and, oh, by the way, one of my articles appears in the October issue of Horizon/Alaska’s in-flight magazine, so I was able to grab lots of extra copies from the seat-pocket in front of me, etc.!).

Upon disembarking in Eugene, I was impressed by the changing autumn light and saturated foliage palette. Oh, it’s autumn in Oregon! It took away my breath and captured my heart.

The evening began with drinks at a nifty bistro with Mary-Kate, followed by dinner with my dear friend Jennifer (we were editors together at “Seattle Woman” magazine in the 80s).

On Tuesday, after a restful overnight in Jenny and her husband Tim’s comfortable home, I met up again with Mary-Kate.

Since I missed out on the one-day garden tour in Eugene that followed last month’s Garden Writers Association’s annual symposium, I had a special request for Mary-Kate: Can I have my own mini-tour of the best of the best Eugene has to offer? [Above: Mary-Kate inspects the craftsmanship of a stunning stone wall hand-built by Allen Bosworth (right) of Bosworth Landscaping.]


July “shed” report

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Lots has been happening in the media this month as Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways appears in print (newspapers and magazines) and online. We’ll even be featured on TV later this month, when Central Texas Gardener (Austin PBS station KLRU) airs a half-hour segment and interview (click here for air-dates).

GARDEN RANT invited me to post today as “guest blogger” and I was thrilled to participate. Thank you to Amy Stewart, Susan Harris, and their partners-in-crime, Michele Owens and Elizabeth Licata, for the wonderful opportunity. Click on over to read my essay, “In Praise of Sheds,” and to see which reader-post wins the free copy of Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways. I’ll choose the winner who gives the best answer to my question:

“What’s your dream shed and how will you use it?”

SUNSET magazine: Thanks to my friends at Sunset for embracing the Shed-Lovers Lifestyle! Kathy Brenzel, garden editor, with support from editor-in-chief Katie Tamony and executive editor Irene Edwards, commissioned a version of the book’s “Newsroom” chapter for Sunset’s July issue. It’s titled: “Home Office With a View.”

The mini-profile about Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press reporter Martha Mendoza, featuring Bill Wright’s photographs of her closet-sized shed-office, allowed me to include details that didn’t make it into the book. The piece captures a-day-in-the-life of this talented, versatile writer and mom, as she moves effortlessly between the Santa Cruz bungalow she shares with husband Ray and their four children, and her 64-square-foot potting shed-turned-office.

Kathy Brenzel also produced a vibrant sidebar about Stylish Sheds, including photographs of three west coast sheds in Bellingham, Wash., Los Angeles, and San Diego County. We couldn’t be happier with the coverage!