Golden Poppy Awards 2015

More than 100 people attended Altadena Heritage’s 11th annual Golden Poppy Awards and Garden Celebration on Sunday, May 31, 2015, from 3 to 6 pm. The event was held on the Old California-style grounds of Ed Ellis’s home near Millard Canyon, and featured a groaning board of sandwiches, snacks, curry, and desserts. Mark Jilg of Craftsman Brewing Company graciously sponsored and poured his famous handcrafted Poppyfields Ale, and board member Gail Casburn presided over a selection of delicious French wines from her Altadena Ale & Wine House.

Board member Bill Ellinger gave a brief talk on the history of Mr. Ellis’s property, Casa Roca, built in 1905 by visionary Horace Dobbins. Dobbins’ plan to build an elevated bicycle-way from Pasadena to Los Angeles was thwarted by none other than Henry Huntington, who, smelling competition, got a court injunction to halt construction that he claimed violated his trolley line’s right of way. Casa Roca — located at 3535 Canyon Ridge Drive — was as visionary as its original owner, featuring a number of architectural elements that were advanced for their era, including steel-reinforced concrete, a dome for water capture and storage, and solar water heating. Among the visitors to Casa Roca during Dobbins’ tenure was famous aviatrix Pancho Barnes, a family member. 

Board chair Michele Zack presented the Golden Poppy Awards. Three of this year’s four recipients were in attendance and briefly described their gardens to the crowd: Megan Bergkessel and Phil Esra; Jeri Huston and Mark Rizuto, and Denise Rae Johnson. Kevin Otuska was not present to receive his bronze Golden Poppy plaque, which winners keep in their gardens for two years before circulating on to new winners.

Sustainability chair Michiko Lynch presented AH’s inaugural “Big Tree” awards. Representatives of Waldorf School accepted the award certificate for the Scripps Torrey Pine on its property, and Peter Doms and Brenda Hurst, private owners of the “Duke of Eucs,” accepted on its behalf. The third winner, the Woodbury Moreton Bay Fig, is on the County Sheriff’s property.

It was a lovely day, captured in many pictures.

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