Debra Prinzing

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On the road, but trying to stay local

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

The 50 Mile Bouquet shares the stage with Lila B.'s charming mini-floral arrangements.

Promoting the Slow Flower movement means one may have to travel. I realize that’s a huge contradiction, but that’s life – a series of choices, right? I rationalize my airplane journeys by trying to cram as many events into one destination as possible. Not exactly logical, but it makes me feel more efficient and keeps me away from home for a shorter period of time.

Earlier this month, I headed to San Francisco for Mother’s Day weekend. It started when Flora Grubb and Susie Nadler, two of the superstars of The 50 Mile Bouquet, invited me to be part of the Mother’s Day events at Flora Grubb Gardens. It was the perfect excuse to combine a visit to meet my own mom (and dad) in San Francisco. And then Baylor Chapman of Lila B. Flowers, another superstar of our book, invited me to be part of her activities as part of the SF Made Week. We filled those 48 hours to the brim with flowers, friends and family. A special thanks to Sophia Markoulakis, food and garden writer, for featuring The 50 Mile Bouquet and the Mother’s Day book-signings in her article for the San Francisco Chronicle, ‘Slow-flower’ movement’s power sprouts with new book.

Here are some of the photos from the trip:

Hi Mom! Having fun with my own mom, Anita Prinzing, at the SF Conservatory of Flowers.


Spending time with floral artist Baylor Chapman is always a treat. We're at the Lila B. Flowers pop-up shop at the Stable Cafe on Folsom Street.


Sigh. Baylor's famous succulent-planted shutters. So beautiful!

At Flora Grubb's on Mother's Day, including (from left) Flora and her mom, Susie's mom, Susie, and me.


A chalkboard notice welcomes me.

Susie create a scrumptious local bouquet using ingredients from her own backyard, from local flower growers and - of course - from succulents at Flora Grubb Gardens.

Garden field trip: Terrain at Styer’s

Sunday, April 19th, 2009
a morning. a mug of tea. breakfast inside a greenhouse. perfection.

a morning. a mug of tea. breakfast inside a greenhouse. perfection.

I have a backlog of cool ideas and discoveries that I want to write about. Too many inspiring thoughts and insights swirling around my head. Too little time.

Since returning from my crazy Jan-Feb-March travel (seven out-of-town lecture trips in something like 10 weeks) I have been trying to carve out time to return to It is the writing forum I love the most, but family demands, and the need to actually make some money, have distracted me. But I’m back on track, friends. I promise.

terrain14One of the places I visited on my many journeys is Terrain at Styer’s.

I recently wrote about my early March trip to lecture on stylish sheds and other small abodes in a talk called “Your Personal Escape” at the Philadelphia Flower Show. But my side trip to Terrain was great fun and I don’t want any more time to pass before writing about it.

Terrain is the darling of the home and garden media. As a hot, design-oriented gardening emporium outside Philadelphia, Terrain appears in shelter magazines as often as its west coast “kindred spirit,” Flora Grubb’s. How cool that I visited both plant- and style-savvy destinations within a few weeks of one another.

You all probably know the back-story about Terrain. If not, I’ll give you the short version here, beginning with Terrain’s own words:

“Lifestyle merchandising is our business and our passion. The goal for our brands is to build a strong emotional bond with the customer. To do this we must build lifestyle environments that appeal emotionally, and offer fashion correct products on a timely basis. Our customers are the reason and the inspiration for everything we do.”

Founded in 2008, Terrain transforms the local garden center into a celebration of nature. Our flagship location . . . was inspired by the idea of merging house and garden to create an experience for the senses, catering to our customer with a curated assortment of plants for all seasons, as well as inspired items for the home and garden. Situated in a luxurious indoor-outdoor environment, our on-site nursery is flanked by a cafe and garden terrace, providing the ideal environment to host events and workshops. [from the Urban Outfitters corporate web site]


A POD in the Garden (POD=Personal Outdoor Dwelling)

Saturday, March 14th, 2009
San Francisco's hottest garden and plant emporium, Flora Grubb

San Francisco's hottest garden and plant emporium, Flora Grubb

A great gathering of Shed-Fanatics joined me at Flora's

A great gathering of Shed-Fanatics joined me at Flora's

After my exhausting trip to the wintry Philadelphia Flower Show, I returned to LA for a quick overnight to recharge my batteries with my family.

Then, last Thursday, I returned to Burbank to fly north to Oakland.

My friends at the Garden Conservancy invited me to share my fascination with sheds and hideaways at an evening benefit lecture.

Hosted by horticultural celebrity Flora Grubb at her eponymous urban emporium, the after-hours event included cocktails and hors d’oeuvres among Flora’s awesome collection of palms, succulents, Mediterranean and drought-tolerant plants – and more.

Flora and Debra, smiling in this great garden setting

Flora and Debra, smiling in this great garden setting

She curates this environment with an eye for design, style and presentation. Furniture selections, displayed among plant groupings really “pop” – from avant-garde concrete chaises to retro-salvaged circle lawn chairs (see below for specifics).

The playfulness with which Flora and her staff have created this plant-centric lifestyle just puts a smile on my face. I’ve heard and read about this cool SF destination nursery for a few years and am thrilled to have been given a great excuse to travel and speak there.

Thanks for the experience begins with my friend Margo Sheffner, who is Flora Grubb’s book buyer extraordinaire. Margo, who is also the business manager for the Pacific Horticultural Foundation (a nonprofit of which I am board member), was an early fan and supporter of Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways. She brought it to Flora Grubb’s and continues to update me about how Flora’s customers “get” the notion of backyard sanctuary, habitat and haven. And that translates into book sales (which is so reassuring in this non-print phase we’re in). Yeah! It makes me happy to see our book in this cool environment.

Here’s a little gallery of Flora Grubb’s Garden. You will love every image:

Credit for my lecture title, “A POD in the Garden,” goes to Garden Conservancy west coast program manager and all-around horticultural go-to gal, Betsy Flack. She came up with the idea of using the acronym P-O-D (as a personal-outdoor-dwelling). I love it! This is my new buzzword. Stylish Sheds includes a chapter about Loretta Fisher’s “Mod Pod” in Austin, so Betsy’s title is apropos. Betsy and her assistant Maria Martinez (along with several Garden Conservancy staff, friends and volunteers) put on a lovely evening. I felt welcomed among so many kindred spirits.

The following morning, I stopped by Dwell's editorial offices to say hello to Miyoko

The following morning, I stopped by Dwell's editorial offices to say hello to Miyoko

Before I started my talk, Betsy invited Miyoko Ohtake, associate editor at Dwell magazine, to share a few words. Miyoko is a talented young architect-journalist who joined Dwell last summer after impressive gigs at Wired and Business Week.

She contacted me in August to ask if I could serve as Dwell’s guest expert for a review of prefabricated sheds (February 2009 issue). It was great to finally meet her in person and to also have the audience meet Miyoko and hear her enthusiasm for modern outdoor design. Dwell supported the event and Miyoko blogged about my talk in advance of the evening.

Then, Flora invited her architect-friend Seth Boor, AIA, of SF’s Boor Bridges Architecture, to comment on the city’s zoning issues relating to shed construction.

It was a stroke of brilliance to include Seth on the program. He and Flora (and her partner Kevin Smith) recently collaborated on a very cool planted-wall installation at a hip, new Napa Valley hotel called Bardessono. The project was recently documented by Stephen Orr in the New York Times. So we were in excellent company (oh, and how cool is this? Stephen was in the audience – what a sweet guy to come hear my talk).

Among other remarks, Seth touched on the permit and installation parameters for anyone wanting to add a backyard shed in San Francisco:

  • No permit is required if you build an outdoor structure under 100 square feet in size and no taller than 8 feet high.
  • The configurations can vary. For example, the structure can be 10-by-10 feet or 8-by-12 feet in size.
  • As for height, as Seth pointed out, “Eight-feet-tall is a little short” but you can work with it.
  • Working without a permit “frees you up to do anything within that size,” he says
  • Also, if the structure isn’t permitted, the typical setback rules do not apply. However, there is the “good neighbor” rule and Seth recommended that shed-builders think about how a 100-sf structure will appear to a neighboring property.

Debra’s note: Creative shed-owners are already aware of this issue. I’ve seen shedistas carefully paint, embellish and artfully adorn the side of their structure that faces a neighbor’s lot. Good shed policy!