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Ash Cornejo in front of the goat shed at Flamingo Estate, copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2021

Ash Cornejo is the herbalist at Flamingo Estate in Eagle Rock, CA and the owner of Painted Cave Apathecary.

We met up recently on a cloudy morning in July in the medicine garden at Flamingo Estate to chat and to do this portrait session. I’ve been loving Ash’s herbal creations this past year, she has made a gorgeous hand soap and body wash for Flamingo estate using Sage, Ylang Ylang, Tulsi, Desert Yarrow and Blue Chamomile. Using both of these products especially the body wash was one of my greatest luxuries over the past year which was pretty grim during many months of lockdown.

Now that things are opening up a bit and Ash is about to move up north to finish her degree in Berkeley, I wanted to meet her and hear more about her work. She invited me to the medicine garden and Goat Shed where she and horticulturalist Jeff Hutchinson collaborate on new products. Ash showed me where she and Jeff sit outside the goat shed and dream up their next projects while overlooking the valley that Jeff has planted with California natives, fruit trees and about 150 other botanical species that grow on the property’s seven-acre hillside landscape surrounding Flamingo Estate’s Founder Richard Christiansen’s home and the name sake for the brand.

Ash Cornejo , copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2021

When I got home from the shoot I sent Ash some questions so she could share her story in her own words.

Here’s our interview:

What’s your major at Berkeley and your plan after ( I think you mentioned that it’s ethnobotony but can’t remember), I recall you saying you want to work in healthcare and connect it to traditional folk medicine? 

My major is Medical Ethnobotany. I went back to school in my 30’s, so I am finishing up my bachelor’s degree now, and will graduate Spring 2022. I am currently applying to grad programs in medicine, and I hope to pursue an advanced degree that will allow me to work in healthcare, focusing on the importance of integrating traditional and folk medicine with modern healthcare systems. I’m working on research now on Latinx folk and alternative medicine usage during COVID-19.

Would you currently describe your work at Flamingo as an herbalist?

I would call myself the herbalist at Flamingo. Jeff and I do a lot of dreaming up ideas together, and then I usually find sound ways to implement them, focusing on chemistry, phytopharmacology, etc. I then create and bottle all the tinctures we make at Flamingo. 

Apothecary still life, copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2021
Jeff Hutchinson and Rani outside the music room at Flamingo Estate, 2018

Since you’re a vegan and I’m working my way that direction, can you share some of your favorite places to eat in LA?

Shojin LA for sushi. Cena Vegan for authentic Mexican food. The Ricans for delicious Puerto Rican food. Burgerlords for Inn-n-out style vegan burgers and fries and shakes. I love Crossroads for fancier nights out, Mama’s Tamales has pupusas, tamales, and Salvadoran vegan options, Dune in Atwater has great falafel, and Ramen Hood in DTLA has amazing vegan ramen.  

What’s your favorite thing about creating from plants and herbs?

I love being with the land, and connected with the land. Touching soil and leaves and roots is necessary to my being, and creating from the earth allows me to be fully present, and also symbiotic. I never take more from the land than would benefit it. Caring for the plants is the best part of working with plants. 

Ash Cornejo , copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2021

Favorite creation.

I am really excited about our Aphrodisiac Elixir right now, because it is based on a formula I have been making for nearly a decade. It’s a special combination of precious plants designed to open the heart and mind. 

Designers you love to wear and why 

Ash wearing Christy Dawn, copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2021

My current favorites are Heidi Merrick, Oddbird, Christy Dawn, and Ovate.

All of these brands are women owned, and smaller scale. Heidi Merrick, Oddbird, and Christy Dawn are all LA local, and Ovate is a single woman run business in Montreal. Ovate has beautiful, whimsical, fairy-tale style pieces. Christy Dawn is doing some really amazing work right now, with their regenerative farm to closet collection. In the past, they have used only deadstock fabric, helping to alleviate the waste left over from the industry. Now, with their farm to closet endeavor, they are growing cotton on land in India that was depleted by monocropping. They are working with a farmers collective to replenish the soil using traditional practices. These dresses actually draw carbon from the atmosphere into the soil, meaning these dresses directly combat climate change. Their first collection drew 66 tons of carbon from the atmosphere. I try to only wear brands that pay a living wage, don’t overproduce, and are small scale. Fashion is a very damaging industry to the environment, so I try to still enjoy fashion through sustainable and responsible brands. 


A couple of years ago my friends Christa and Eric and their two kids moved from LA up to the Central Coast where Christa grew up. Christa dreamed of moving back up to the Central coast with her family by the time she turned 40, and they did it!

Home of  Eric Pfleeger and Christa Renee  in Arroyo Grande, CA,
Christa washing herbs from the garden. Copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2020
Kitchen of  Eric Pfleeger and Christa Renee in Arroyo Grande, CA
Christa and Eric renovated their entire house after moving in.
They did the design work themselves using Pinterest for inspiration.

Oscar and Wesley shot by Christa Renee

Oscar and Wesley getting ready for school, copyright Christa Renee

They have two kids that they are home schooling, lots of guests coming and going, and tons of projects happening all the time.

Eric and Christa's sheep, copyright Christa Renee

Lonely Palm Ranch sheep, copyright Christa Renee

We’ve gone up to visit them a few times a year since they moved, and it’s been incredible to see all the work they’ve done since they moved. The ranch is an amazing place for their kids to grow up. Spending time in nature, learning responsibility doing ranch chores and incorporating their lives into their home school curriculum.

Wesley working on the ranch, copyright Christa Renee

Wesley working on the ranch, copyright Christa Renee

Home of  Eric Pfleeger and Christa Renee  in Arroyo Grande, CA,
Frittatas are a regular family meal, made from fresh organic eggs laid by the hens on the ranch. Copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2020

One of Christa's homemade Frittatas, Copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2020

One of Christa’s homemade Frittatas, Copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2020

Eric Pfleeger making coffee in his kitchen in Arroyo Grande, CABefore moving from LA, Eric and Christa opened Collage Coffee , with their partner Kevin. They sold their share in the business, but Eric is still pretty serious about coffee and makes a spectacular cappuccino for the guests who come by. He uses a sweet La Marzocco an industry standard for specialty coffee shops.

Some of his favorite roasters are 49th Parallel, Four Barrel, Little Wolf & Brutal. On a recent trip I brought up a bag of Devocion Wild Forest I had at Document in LA. We made some pour overs that were pretty perfect!devocion



The view from above the valley, Copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2020

Last year they renovated their house, and converted the tack room off the barn into a guest suite ( it’s super cozy ). Below is Christa last Winter in the new Tack room bathroom. They used the leftover tile Eric’s bought from his friend Faile for Collage to cover the shower interior..rad!!

christa_failAlso, they created a studio for Eric in the shed where he is hand silkscreening calendars and art for friends and clients. Last year they hosted 40 + people for Thanksgiving, planted lots of fruit trees and are now working on their vegetable & flower gardens… Oh I forgot the sheep and lots of other stuff… It’s a lot!!

Eric Pfleeger and Christa Renee at home in Arroyo Grande, CA, co

Eric and Christa with their favorite months from the Lonely Palm 2020 Calendar. Copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2020

Eric Pfleeger and Christa Renee at home in Arroyo Grande, CA, coYou can follow along on their journey on instagram where Christa documents her family and the ranch in a beautiful way that is honest and beautifully photographed. Check out Christa’s work here – she’s a lifestyle photographer and commercial director.                  See more of my work on my website & my instagram feed.

This month I visited Sunnylands Estate and Visitor center. It was a memorable day, touring the estate, which was the former home of Leonore and Walter Annenberg, and hanging out in incredible Visitor’s center and gardens.

The first three images are from the Visitor’s Center garden, which was designed by Landscape Architect James Burnett who, “used Vincent van Gogh’s Olive Trees of 1889 as inspiration for this masterpiece view of the Center’s unique gardens.

Burnett carefully crafted nine acres of desert, designing 1.25 miles of walking paths that meander through more than 70 species of native and arid-adapted plants from North and South America, Africa, and the Mediterranean area. The gardens were carefully conceived to appear different in every season with variations that create a memorable sensory experience.

The bottom 6 images were taken in the garden of the Sunnyland’s estate. The estate was designed by architect  A. Quincy Jones, and is a jewel box of Hollywood Regency architecture, filled with their original period furnishings, artwork and many historical artifacts from their private and public lives.
Sunnylands Visitor's Center, copyright Diana Koenigsberg 2016sunny-cactus-horizontalcactus-pondagam_poolsunnylands_v3a4863sunny-chandeliersquiggle-sculpture_v3a4842_v3a4838_reventrance_v3a4816