Debra Prinzing

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New Garden Products for 2011 – Part One

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Here is an array of new 2011 Tub Trug colors

Part One of Two Consecutive Blog posts:
I was invited  by the producers of The Independent Garden Center Show, an annual trade show held in Chicago each August, to give two talks about garden and consumer trends. It was easy to say “yes,” because I had heard so much about this massive event. It’s the place to be and be seen for anyone in the gardening industry!

By experiencing the extravaganza first-hand and seeing what all the buzz was about, I got a real workout. With thousands of other attendees, I navigated the aisles and aisles of new garden products, tools, furniture, accessories and even plants. I managed to see it all over the course of three days – and here are my picks for the best new ideas that gardeners will see in 2011. 

You’ll likely discover these goods on the shelves of your local indy garden center, nursery or emporium. Follow the links to the web site for each company (some only sell wholesale, but many have store locator tabs). 

Ethel work glove

I’ve previously endorsed and written about the Ethel Glove so I wanted to stop by the booth of this cool Valencia, Calif.-based company to see what was new. The Ethel Work Glove, with an $8 price tag, is at first glance similar to the everyday rubber-dipped knit glove you’ll see at hardware stores and garden centers. But the Ethel staff explained that this glove is made from a durable knit material with a rubber palm, pads and fingertips formed by painting (rather than dipping) the gloves into a polypropylene finish. 

Ethel also has a new, slim and fashionable, black knit glove made from a bamboo-derived fine knit (protecting the cuff, back of the hands and fingers). The durable palm and pads are coated with a synthetic leather. 

A reimagined rubber tire-turned-trug

Tub trugs come in a rainbow of colors. I own several of these excellent plastic garden carriers with handles. They’re great for hauling anything around the garden and useful for pruning,  dead-heading and weeding projects. 

The designed-in-the-UK and made-in-Spain tubs will soon be available in 10 new colors. There are also a few fun new products, including a color-coordinating push broom ($29.99 retail) and two sizes of trugs made from recycled tires. To me, these look like a riff on the Southern tire planters – they even smell like old Goodyears! Thicker and a little less refined than the sleek, Pantone palette-trugs, the black rubber ones will be available in January for $9.99-$12.99. 

The tub truck - take it with you to the farmer's market!

For those of you who already own a medium or large trug, look for the January release of Tub Truck, a rolling carrier ($37.99). You can pop the bucket onto the frame and take it with you to a plant sale or farmer’s market. The handle has hooks for hanging additional bags. It’s a fun cart to pull behind you and a brilliant solution for gardeners. 

'Serenade' ~ a Napa Firelite, 12 in. tall

“Firelites” or fire bowls are all the rage. As Martyn Fernambucq of Napa Home & Garden puts it: “Fire is such a hot commodity right now.” 

I first noticed this new product category when an editor at Better Homes & Gardens sent me a photo of a small ceramic lantern with a flame (not a wick, mind you, but a 2-inch diameter flame that was flickering 2-3 inches above the round opening in the lantern). That’s when I went online to learn more and discovered that the lanterns are fueled by a long-burning smoke- and odor-free gel.

Like many things that bubble up to one’s consciousness and elbow their way onto one’s radar, it’s not really a surprise that the very next day I went to an al fresco dinner party for a friend where the hosts’ boathouse was illuminated by these flaming lanterns. Clearly they are decorative. The flame can’t  be blown out by a gust of wind (as would be the case with a candle).

Mesh orbs by Achla Designs

I’m all about orbs, spheres, globes, and balls as sophisticated garden ornamentation. My favorite piece of sculpture features a filigree-style wire mesh ball with a random “scribble” pattern. It was designed by artist Jennifer Gilbert Asher of TerraSculpture and fabricated by Mario Lopez in his Los Angeles metal shop. 

If you like this custom-designed and fabricated look, you might like the black wire orbs that are slightly reminiscent of Jennifer’s designs. I spotted them in Achla Designs booth. Nice design in small (6-inch), medium (12-inch) and large (18-inch) sizes. 

A sunflower pillow - perfect for the patio

Outdoor textiles are more interesting than ever, moving way beyond awning striped polyester choices. 

So of course, the Liora Manne booth lured me in and I was eager to learn more about the gorgeous, patterned pillows made with a felting-like process. 

The Lamontage pillows are made of 100% antimicrobial polyester microfiber for indoor/outdoor use. They measure 20-by-20 inches or 12-by-20 inches with removable, hand-washable covers. The collection includes place mats and outdoor rugs, as well. 

According to the Liora Manne web site, Lamontage is a technique “in which acrylic fibers are intricately structured by hand and then mechanically interlocked by needle-punching to create a nonwoven textile. Lamontage is based on the idea of versatility; breaking the boundaries of traditional textiles and creating a unique textile with unlimited possibilities.” 


More spheres in my garden

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Tempest holds a stainless-steel Mesh orb in its arms. The piece measures 70 inches tall.

As a follow-up to my last post about round objects in the landscape, I thought I’d show off a few more of my spherical works of art, from my backyard. You can see how appealing it is to start with a shape and then repeat it often. Some of the orbs in my garden are more obvious than others. One of the round forms is quite subtle. It is part of a sculpture called “Tempest” by my friend Jennifer Asher and her collaborator-fabricator Mario Lopez.

Jennifer owns TerraSculpture with Karen Neill Tarnowski  and the two women never cease to amaze me at their innovation and talent. These pieces fill a void in the outdoor sculpture world – bringing contemporary sculpture to the residential setting at far below the huge price tags you usually see.

Tempest, closer up

TerraSculpture originally created Tempest in a powder-coated bright orange finish. My husband Bruce was interested in the piece but suggested that we have Jennifer and Mario make the base in weathered steel, which somehow fits our style better.

I love the shape of the base – three “arms” join together and then gradually open to cradle a stainless steel mesh ball. The weathered steel (some might call it “rust”) echoes the dark burgundy-rust blades of my garden’s New Zealand flax and Cordyline plants. There’s something really wonderful about the piece’s see-through quality, too. Upon seeing “Tempest” standing in our garden, visitors are likely to utter a gasp of delight, followed by the immediate question: Where did you find that awesome piece?

My weathered steel orb - a pretty object in the garden.

More steel – also rusted – appears in the 24-inch orb I purchased from my friends Annette Gutierrez and Mary Gray of Pot-ted in Los Angeles. I’ve shown earlier pics of their tangerine and aqua-finished objects.

For me, the weathered steel works well with everything else in my garden. See how pretty this piece looks on the “California Gold” crushed gravel? On the other hand, if Annette and Mary ever decide to make their metal orb series in lime green, I will be the first in line to snag a small-medium-large trio!

The perennial bed is dotted with orbs, from Bauer Pottery

And what about those awesome Bauer balls? I think I have six of them (it’s an ever-changing number). Here are two of them, looking nice and settled-in at the base of a New Zealand flax. These Bauer glazes are called Lime Green (15 inch size) and French Blue (8-inch size).

The glossy finish and classic round forms add up to nothing short of stunning, especially when surrounded by foliage, flowers and ornamental grass plumes.

Colorful glass floats add a lot of character to this fountain.

I have a thing for floating glass balls, too. Here is a little cluster of them, floating in the fountain on our entry porch. There are several glass artists who make these decorative balls. You can usually find the artists and their wares at major flower shows.

One of my favorite sources is Glass Gardens NW. Owner-artist Barbara Sanderson makes a rainbow of glass floats and orbs, as well as larger sculpture pieces for the garden. Check her out!

Finally, the garden has curves of a more organic nature – and that is in the outline of two crescent-shaped perennial beds. With so much linear geometry in my backyard (the horizontal lines of the house, patio, pergola, wall and pathways) it’s nice to visually break up these forms with sinuous curves.

Circles, spheres, orbs, and globes in my garden

Monday, June 14th, 2010

In the July 2010 issue of Better Homes & Gardens, I wrote a short item for my “Debra’s Garden” column called “Curves Ahead.” It could also have been titled “Three Cheers for the Circle.”

I am obsessed with round shapes — balls, spheres and orbs — and I love to dot the garden with these forms. This design trick relates to one of those basic lessons anyone who studies the art of landscape design is taught: Choose an idea and repeat it frequently.

My eye is naturally drawn to orbs and globes. They are so pleasing to me – in fact, I wrote about this passion previously – in an earlier blog post, “Zen of the Circle.”

Ornamental globes, obelisks and balls have taken up residence here in my Southern California backyard — check out the photograph below.

And it’s not just the three-dimensional geometry that puts a smile on my face. Curved outlines, such as the edge of a perennial border, patch of lawn or a turn in the path echo the orbs and reappear as arcs or crescents in the garden.

My interest in the sexy, organic globe shape has come “full circle” (pun intended) from a single idea to a cohesive design theme and a nice way to use ornamentation. Look around your own garden. Wherever you see a bare spot, perhaps it’s calling out for an orb or two.

I included a post-script note in my BH&G piece, promising to share my gallery of rounded and curved design ideas with our readers. Here it is – enjoy! Please send me your own photos and I’ll include the best ideas here, too. Check the bottom of this post for some of my favorite shopping resources.

My cluster of orbs in a dreamy palette of green, blue, and teal - with a wonderful mosaic orb by Vashon Island, Wash., artist Clare Dohna

A stunning, cool blue ceramic globe in a Yakima, Wash., garden. You can tell it is mounted on a pedestal to elevate it above the foliage.

Yes, these awesome orbs are actually vintage bowling balls. Each one rests on a painted flowerpot and is stair-stepped outside the porch of Berkeley, Calif., artist Marcia Donohue.

A finely-carved spiral woodworking detail appears at the end of a beam that forms the roof of a dining pavilion in our book, Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways.

The open circle - a "moon window" or "dreamcatcher" - provides a beautiful perspective in my friend Mary-Kate Mackey's Eugene, Ore., garden. It is mounted beneath an arbor where a hard kiwi grows.

My friend Kathy Fries designed a square-in-a-circle knot garden in her Seattle area landscape.

Plants like these golden barrel cactuses are naturally orb-like. You can see these at Lotusland, an estate garden in the Santa Barbara area.

This graduated set of concrete orbs just knocked me out when I first saw it in Sun Valley, Idaho a few summer's back. Thanks to my friend Mary Ann Newcomer, I got to visit some pretty amazing landscapes there.

A visit to any well-stocked garden center is likely to showcase the myriad choices of balls. I spotted a rainbow of gazing balls at Green Thumb Nursery in Ventura, Calif.

Restful, zen-like. Three types of moss are sculpted into a gravel garden display designed by Southern California landscape architect Graham Stanley.

Look for circular forms in public gardens - you'll find them. The arches of a lovely stone bridge are reflected in this pond to create an almost perfect circle. This bridge is at the classical Chinese Garden, recently opened at the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Garden in San Marino, Calif.

Artist Robert Irwin sculpted flowering azalea shrubs into a circular maze at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The clipped, concentric circles bloom in white, pink and magenta flowers.

The pebbles in a path detail, arranged on edge and curved into an eye-pleasing pattern.

A round "carpet" laid with sand-set concrete cobble-style pavers. Designed for my Seattle friends Rand Babcock and Tony Nahra by Daniel Lowery of Queen Anne Gardens.

If stone isn't your thing, try turf. This tiny grass "throw-rug" appears in the Seattle backyard of landscape architect Erik Wood and designer Carina Langstraat

Wow! Metal obelisks - powdercoated in orange (or turquoise), designed by Annette Guttierez and Mary Gray from Potted, in Los Angeles (see ordering details below)

Best resources for spherical garden ornamentation:

Pot-ted Store: Three graduated sizes of balls made from steel strapping will lend a lovely moment of architecture to the landscape. I have the medium-sized one in weathered steel (my preferred material). Annette and Mary, owners of Los Angeles-based Pot-ted, now sell a series finished with bright orange and turquoise powder-coating – their fav hues. Oops – I mean “aqua” and “tangerine.” Inquire about custom colors! Prices: $98 (18-inches); $139 (24-inches); and $169 (30 inches). Shipping available.

Bauer Pottery Garden Orbs: My friend Janek Boniecki has revived the classic California earthenware known as Bauer Pottery. In addition to making reproduction urns, dishes and serving pieces (in that awesome, sun-drenched palette), Janek and crew also create ceramic garden orbs glazed in Bauer colors. Yellow, dove gray, French blue, Federal blue, chartreuse, lime green, midnight blue, parrot green, turquoise, white, black and aqua (for some reason, the Bauer orange pieces are slightly more expensive, perhaps because of the glazing involved).

I am a bit addicted to these “globally admired” orbs, thanks to the company’s occasional factory outlet sales in Los Angeles. I have five or six of these gumball-shaped objects, which look tres-bien in and among foliage, flowers, blades and stems. Prices: $75-$82 (8-inch); $100-$110 (12-inch); and $150-$165 (15-inch). If you think you’ll be in the Los Angeles area sometime, make sure to check the Bauer web site to see the warehouse sale schedule. You will definitely find great prices and maybe even an orb or two (if I don’t get there first!).

Clare Dohna, Mosaic Artist:  Based on Vashon Island, Wash., artist Clare Dohna makes vibrant mosaic tiles in dazzling botanical shapes (flowers, bugs, leaves and more). She uses these tiles to adorn the surfaces of all sorts of wonderful garden sculpture and art, such as bird baths, bird houses, egg shapes and — my favorite – mosaic spheres. You can see one of her pieces at the top of this page; it plays nicely with the solid-colored Bauer orbs. Contact Clare directly (from her web site) to inquire about color schemes and prices.