Debra Prinzing

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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.

Leslie Codina’s Garden Sculpture at LA County Arboretum

Thursday, August 6th, 2009
Leslie's Autumn-inspired piece is topped by a fabulous flame

Leslie's Autumn-inspired piece is topped by a fabulous flame

There’s new artwork at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden  and it’s as colorful as the peacocks strolling around the grounds.

Four sculptural “towers,” designed, crafted and donated by artist Leslie Codina, celebrate winter, spring, summer and fall. The installation complements a 10,000-square-foot display of ornamental and edible plants called “Garden for All Seasons.”

Codina, who lives and works in Ontario, creates whimsical stacked towers of color, pattern and form. Her hand-built earthenware “beads” are fired in vibrant glazes, eye-catching patterns, and exaggerated organic shapes that suggest thorns, leaves, flowers, tendrils and bugs. Each piece has a hole at its center so it can be slid over a metal rod in whimsical, mix-and-match designs.

“They are my crazy interpretation of what’s already in the garden,” she says.

The artist sells her $400-$650 garden sculptures at local fairs, including the Arboretum’s L.A. Garden Show each spring. She proposed donating a permanent, site-specific sculpture several years ago, but it wasn’t until after renovations on “Garden for All Seasons” started in 2007 that Tim Phillips, the Arboretum’s acting CEO, agreed and suggested the site. Codina worked with garden curator Darlene Kelly to come up with the four-season theme and determine where the pieces would be installed.

The four spires represent the garden's beauty in all four seasons

The four spires represent the garden's beauty in all four seasons

At 9 to 15 feet high, the quartet of spires has more than 50 individual “beads” and is larger than Codina’s typical work.  “The scale is huge – the base shapes are the size of a beach ball,” she says. “When we put them all together, they look hugely impressive. They complement the garden and the garden complements the sculpture.”

The sculptures follow the seasons, both in size and color. “They gain height as they ‘grow’ from winter through the rest of the year,” Codina says. Purple-and-sage designs symbolize winter; spring is a full spectrum of green colors; summer has hot pinks, oranges and greens; and fall is depicted with mustard yellow, olive green and red hues.

Unlike Codina’s smaller pieces, which often have branch-like armatures, the sculptures at the Arboretum are made of mostly cylindrical shapes. “I made them very peacock-safe,” says the artist. “I didn’t want to give the peacocks any place to perch.”

PHOTOS: courtesy Gene Sasse Photography

Los Angeles Garden Show Highlights

Friday, May 1st, 2009
Garden celebrity Shirley Bovshow and I posed on a bench in Nick Williams's garden

Garden celebrity Shirley Bovshow and I posed on a bench in Nick Williams's garden

The theme of this year’s LA Garden Show, “A Festival of Flavors,” is timely and delectable. The show is produced by the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Arcadia (just east of Pasadena), a 127-acre destination with a diverse plant collection, inspiring display gardens and natural habitat-inspired landscapes. The three-day flower show runs through Sunday, May 3rd. The event’s honorary chairs are Clara and Jacob Maarse of the famous Pasadena rose nursery and florist, and Rosalind Creasy, garden writer and pioneer in edible landscaping.

Edible gardening expert Rosalind Creasy

Edible gardening expert Rosalind Creasy

Most of the flower shows I’ve participated in have been indoor shows, so when I arrived last night to attend the preview gala, I was reminded of how alluring an open-air flower show can be. There’s nothing like the sky overhead, the sounds of screeching peacocks that wander the Arboretum grounds, the fragrances and textures of plants from every continent — and the conviviality of friendships — to put me in a perfect festive mood.

Upon entering the Arboretum, we first stopped off at the “marketplace” of plant vendors, garden artists and purveyors of cool stuff, which occupies the lower lawn adjacent to Baldwin Lake. The collection of white tents, topped with jaunty flags, put a smile on my face. I felt as if I was in Europe rather than Los Angeles. The two hours allotted to previewing the sales area was barely enough – but no worry, because I’ll be back there on Sunday to do some more damage to the checkbook (That’s after my 11 a.m. “Garden Chat” ).

Plant vendors, garden artists and more

Plant vendors, garden artists and more

As I strolled along the grassy pathways between each tent, poked my head inside several to check out the offerings, and chatted with fellow party-goers, I said to myself: These are my people!

I was surrounded by kindred spirits who love gardens, plants, ornamentation, vintage finds, and more.

Vintage gals, Libby and Nancie

Vintage gals, Libby and Nancie

A couple of highlights included visiting with Libby Simon of Libby’s Vintage Home & Garden and her friend Nancie Piser, fellow collectors of salvage, old linens, elderly gardening books, retro dishes and glassware, anything tin, rusted or galvanized, and more!

Oh, and Libby also specializes in unusual cactuses – I came home with a nifty specimen (Euphorbia handiensis) that I quickly re-potted in a turquoise-glazed pot for my garden.

My friend Paula Panich and I had a few acquisitive moments, inspired by all the unique finds these two women featured in their tent. I came home with an old garden spray-nozzle and some awesome vintage books, including an almost-mint 1932 edition of The Fragrant Path: A book about sweet scented flowers and leaves, By Louise Beebe Wilder (perfect for a friend’s upcoming birthday). Here’s what Miss Beebe Wilder writes in her opening lines:

A garden full of sweet odours is a garden full of charm, a most precious kind of charm not to be implanted by mere skill in horticulture or power of purse, and which is beyond explaining. It is born of sensitive and very personal preferences yet its appeal is almost universal.

Here is a map of The Arboretum and the Garden Show features:


Leslie Codina's art: A joyful explosion of color and form

Leslie Codina's art: A joyful explosion of color and form

Playful, fanciful, nature-inspired sculpture

Playful, fanciful, nature-inspired sculpture

Inspired, my eyes drifted over to the next tent over, which was filled with lively ceramic spires pleasing to the visual senses. Leslie Codina, a local Los Angeles area artist, creates whimsical stacked towers of color, pattern and form. The 5- to 7-foot-tall sculptural creations are formed first in Leslie’s imagination as she “interprets the shapes and colors of nature into her garden sculpture.”

Leslie renders individual elements in clay, then shapes, curves, twists, carves and rolls the medium into fantastical armitures, balls, finials and wing-like shapes.

Firing and glazing steps follow, featuring a mix-and-match palette of lime, plum, apricot, red, orange, blue, aqua and lavender.

Artist and sculptor Leslie Codina, with peacock strolling by

Artist and sculptor Leslie Codina, with peacock strolling by

I first learned of Leslie from photographer pal Gene Sasse, who has done much of the photography that appears on her web site. He urged me to seek Leslie out – and boy am I glad I finally did.

Leslie has just donated a grouping of four 8- to 12-foot tall sculptures as a permanent installation at the Arboretum. The collection appears in the “Garden for All Seasons” display, which represents each phase of the year.

After shopping and browsing, several of us moved to the “Designer Lawn” area of the Arboretum, where the cocktail reception was underway.

The displays, created by talented area landscape firms and individuals, brings together the idea of “edible” and “ornamental” worlds co-existing in the garden. Here are a few of the innovative ideas showcased:

“Punctuation in the Garden: A Gallery of Edible Container Gardens,” created by the local members of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD):

I’ve admired and been privileged to write about the design work of several APLD members, both in the Washington State chapter and now in the California chapter. The group of a dozen folks who created eye-catching edible focal points has come up with some pretty fun interpretations of an “edible container.”


Art in the garden

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Here’s my January 2009 “In the Garden” column for 805 Living magazine, featuring artist and designer Jennifer Gilbert Asher and her beautiful sculpture.


GARDENS AS GALLERIES: Choose and place ornamentation with a thoughtful eye toward your garden’s overall design.

Why do artful objects – such as sculpture, salvaged architectural fragments or even a birdbath – make such an impression in the garden?

Like adding jewelry to a little black dress, or a few bright pillows to a tired sofa, artwork, sculpture and ornamentation can take any garden from ordinary to extraordinary. Well-placed art adds to, rather than detracts from, the overall composition. In the winter, when the garden is quieter, artwork often takes center stage.

“Even though sculpture is a four-season element in the landscape, it becomes the star of the show when everything else is going dormant,” says Jennifer Gilbert Asher, principal of Woodland Hills-based Chilmark Gardens. [see Jennifer, right, with “Curvas,” placed in her own garden.]

Precious objects, displayed side-by-side with foliage and flower – or partially hidden among the stems and branches of a favorite plant – give a garden its personality. They also communicate volumes about its owner’s taste and style.

“I place sculpture not just to complement the garden, but to transform it,” Asher says. “A captivating sculpture can spike curiosity and provoke thought. It can be playful or energetic; meditative or even sensual.”

Asher was inspired to design a collection of bold, modern pieces after she had trouble finding affordable artwork for her client’s landscapes. “I was shocked at the lack of accessible fine art for the garden. I heard the same thing from other designers, all over the country. You shouldn’t have to be a millionaire to transform your landscape into an outdoor art gallery,” she says.

She teamed up with Los Angeles entrepreneur Karen Neill Tarnowski last fall to launch TerraSculpture, an online art gallery and sculpture studio. Asher design and create abstract, graphic forms in stainless, weathered and powder-coated steel.  TerraSculpture uses durable, outdoor-friendly material such as 11-gauge steel; finishes vary from brushed stainless to eye-popping primary colors. [at left: “Leap”]

With names like “Embrace” and “Closer,” many of the pieces evoke human emotions. And unlike the type of sculpture you’d see in public parks or museums, which is far too large for the domestic landscape, TerraSculpture’s designs range from 4-1/2-feet-tall to 6-1/2-feet-tall. (For customers whose homeowner-association covenants restrict anything that appears above backyard fences or walls, these dimensions offer added benefits.)