Debra Prinzing

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New summer articles by Debra

Saturday, July 13th, 2013

It was fun to visit the newsstand yesterday and pick up three new magazines with my articles.

When you see them in one place, it might feel like I’ve been super productive. But there is a back-story about each, and I have to be honest with you. Sometimes it takes YEARS for a story to see the light of day.

Case in point: The Southern California garden owned by Cheryl Bode and Robin Colman, featured in the July-August issue of Horticulture, was photographed in 2009. Since then, it has often seemed to Cheryl, Robin and me that the story would never appear in print. When I finally saw the issue, just out on newsstands, I understood why. The photos are incredibly disappointing. I have so many wonderful photos of their garden and the magical feeling one experiences when visiting there was simply not expressed in the Horticulture magazine. Click over to my articles page to read the story and see my photos rather than the ones printed below. Theirs is an inspiring story of two homeowners who yearned to bring an old house back to life, along with its garden. To physically walk through it is truly special.













A horticultural weekend in Los Angeles

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Agave attenuata - the most sculptural and simply perfect form in the Southern California garden

Joanne White leads the way along the rose-laden path in Marylyn Ginsberg and Chuck Klaus’s garden

I have spent many moments this past week reliving the wonderful experience of leading the Northwest Horticultural Society’s “LA Garden Tour” last weekend.  

It was a lot of work for the group’s tour co-chairs Gillian Mathews and Renee Montgelas and me, but we agree that the four-day excursion was a huge success (well, we won’t discuss the bus fiasco on Saturday night – no fault of our own!).  

I said “yes” to planning and leading the tour after several years during which Gillian and I fantasized about putting together a weekend trip.  

Gillian and I have known each other since 2000 or 2001 when I was still reporting on retail trends for Puget Sound/Eastside Business Journals in Seattle and she had just launched her garden emporium, Ravenna Gardens. From there, we not only helped each other with our respective auction projects, but we became friends. Gillian, in fact, is responsible for me assuming the editorial duties for the horticultural society’s Garden Notes, a quarterly newsletter that I edited for a few years on two occasions.  

We first worked on a tour together in 2005 when I led an autumn weekend to Eastern Washington/Yakima area. And only three weeks after I first arrived in Southern California in late August 2006, it was serendipitous that Gillian and Renee brought an NHS group to Santa Barbara and Pasadena. I joined them for much of that tour and honestly feel that it was my happy introduction to Southern California horticulture and landscape design. When I visited some of Santa Barbara’s great public and private gardens and nurseries with the group, I thought to myself: “I am going to be okay down here.”  

Gillian may not realize how directly and indirectly she has influenced and encouraged the course of my career to leave business writing and embark on garden and design writing – but she has!  

Fast forward 3-1/2 years and it was my turn to show off LA to many old and several new NHS friends. Here’s a recap and some photos to introduce the awesome design style of LA’s gardens:


Garden Conservancy’s Altadena Tour

Saturday, April 25th, 2009
A small fountain bubbles at the intersection of the rose garden's central walkway and side paths

A small fountain bubbles at the intersection of the rose garden's central walkway and side paths

Last week, I toured the 3/4-acre landscape owned by Cheryl Bode and Robin Colman, a lavish garden developed over the past 10 years in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Tomorrow, April 26th, they are generously sharing their lush and serene property as one of six private, residential landscapes on the Altadena Garden Conservancy Tour.

My story, “Botanical bounty in Altadena,” about Cheryl and Robin’s abundant landscape, appears in today’s edition of the Los Angeles Times.

Since we had to cut the original piece due to space, I have included the full story below.


Take a virtual tour through this web gallery of photos from my visit:

Here is my original story. Enjoy a peek into the lives of two who are passionate about the place they possess:

By Debra Prinzing

Ten years ago, Cheryl Bode and Robin Colman discovered the house and garden they soon called Casa dos Mujeres (House of Two Women).

Prompted by the desire for more space as they combined their individual households, the two Pasadena residents considered buying in nearby Altadena, a village in unincorporated Los Angeles County wedged between Pasadena and the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

“Cheryl went to Altadena on a lark with our real estate agent,” Robin recalls. “This house was in terrible shape, but part of it really captivated her.” Later, when Cheryl returned with her partner in tow, she couldn’t help jumping up and down with happiness when Robin pronounced: “I could live here.”