Welcome! This site and my books are about growing and enjoying succulent plants in gardens, containers, landscapes and design-oriented projects.
To receive my quarterly News from the World of Designing with Succulents, email me with "Subscribe" in the subject line plus your city or region. If you like, tell me what aspect of succulents you're specifically interested in. If you've designed something wonderful, I'd love to see a photo!
Designers, whether professional or amateur, find succulents irresistible. The plants' shapes and textures range from dainty beads and fluffy mounds to bold suggestions of the dinosaur era. Many resemble daisies or roses and come in surprising shades of teal, silver, chartreuse and burgundy. Providing you avoid bruising the leaves, and don’t let these warm-climate lovelies freeze in winter, they'll thrive in pots on your patio or in your garden, asking only for half a day of non-scorching sun, fast-draining potting soil, and an occasional splash from the hose.
By definition, succulent plants store moisture in fleshy leaves and stems to survive periods of drought (such as when you forget to water them). Varieties include agaves, aloes, aeoniums, echeverias, jades, hens-and-chicks and stonecrops.
...water shortages and drought impact many regions.
...they're a good lawn alternative.
...they're fire-resistant and fire-retardant.
...they're simple to cultivate and propagate.
...they require minimal maintenance.
...they range in size from ground covers to trees.
...many have geometric shapes.
...they add interest to gardens large and small.
...leaves and stems come in every color including blue.
...they're intriguing year-round.
...most produce long-lasting, vivid flowers.
...new cultivars are being introduced all the time.
...they're more readily available than ever before.
...they're highly collectible.
I have a passion for plants that drink responsibly. Not only are succulents beautiful
to look at, they're a great option for lazy gardeners (like me).
I garden on a half acre in the foothills of Southern CA, where temps range from below
freezing to 100+ degrees F. As a garden photojournalist, author, speaker and consultant, I am keenly aware of intelligent and aesthetically pleasing ways to use plants in landscapes, design-oriented projects and containers.
Growing up with succulents in my parents' Southern CA garden, I didn't think of the plants as special. They were what people filled their yards with if they didn't have automatic irrigation. If you forgot to hose-water, the succulents usually survived, at least big, mature ones did. Agaves, jade and prickly pear were bulletproof. Later, I planted cuttings from my parentsí garden in my own. In 20+ years, I've grown everything that would grow, and succulents hands-down are the best-looking and the least trouble.
As a journalist specializing in homes, gardens, architecture and interior design, I got my start writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune and San Diego Home/Garden magazine. I went on to scout, write and shoot for national publications.
Then several things coalesced: the seemingly endless CA drought; more varieties of succulent plants than ever before; and a realization on the part of the gardening public that lawns and flower gardens tend to be impractical in terms of water usage and the time it takes to maintain them. Gardens comprised primarily of succulents and drought-tolerant companion plants were what forward-thinking designers and homeowners were installing. After seeing my scouting shots of many such gardens, my Sunset editor suggested I write a book. That changed my life!
Designing with Succulents came out in 2007 and spent 19 weeks on Amazon's list of the
Top Ten Bestselling Gardening Books. The emphasis is mainly on in-ground gardens, and is primarily applicable to Southern and coastal CA from the Bay Area south.
The sequel, Succulent Container Gardens (2010), makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to grow succulent plants, because containers are portable and can be overwintered indoors. It shows the best succulents for containers and effective ways to use them in everything from vertical gardens to topiaries.
My latest release, Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care Varieties (2013) offers cut-to-the chase info in bullet-point lists, sidebars, boxes, captions and text. Its purpose is to reassure even rank newbies that they, too, can achieve wonderful results growing and designing with succulents.
All are from Timber Press.
If you've attended one of my presentations and enjoyed it, I'd be grateful if you'd leave a comment on the Great Garden Speakers website (click on "Rate This Speaker" at the lower right of the green area). Thanks!
"The growing interest in succulents on the part of the gardening public can be attributed primarily to one person: Debra Lee Baldwin." -- Australian nurseryman and author Attila Kapitany, in his address to the biennial convention of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America.
My goal is to share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulent plants in gardens, containers and landscapes via blog posts, newsletters, public speaking and workshops, photos, videos, merchandise, and social media (Facebook and Pinterest). My books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. ~ Debra Lee Baldwin