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Succulent Cornucopia

My DIY Succulent Cornucopia

 The wicker cornucopia was $4.99 at a thrift store. So I grabbed it. At the supermarket, I sorted through gourds for “the best bottoms,” and got a bag of in-shell nuts. At the nursery, I went up and down the aisles muttering, “Succulents that look like fruit.”
Plants and materials for succulent cornucopia

I loaded up on sedums in fall colors and an aloe shaped like the basket. But when I spotted a Euphorbia obesa with multiple offsets, I nearly swooned. It was pricey at $12.99, but I had to have it. Just look how it goes with the gourds! 

My succulent cornucopia includes a cluster of Euphorbia obesa, colorful sedums, a small aloe, gourds, and nuts

Watch it come together in my latest YouTube video, DIY Succulent Cornucopia (3:36). 

Incidentally, after Thanksgiving, I plan to pull out the plants and use them in a container garden inspired by Jeanne Meadow’s pool pots (p. 229 of Designing with Succulents). Stay tuned!

To be notified when I release a new video, subscribe to my YouTube channel. 

Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Debra 

Debra Lee Baldwin with succulent cornucopia
 Sources: Succulents are from Altman Plants‘ retail outlet north of San Diego, Oasis Water Efficient Gardens. Wicker cornucopias can be found at craft stores and online. 

Debra Lee Baldwin’s Succulent Cornucopia

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Succulents, Shells and Summer: My Potting Demo at Roger’s Gardens

When I arrived at Roger’s Gardens (the largest independently owned garden center on the West Coast) at 8 a.m., I hit the ground running. Roger’s is a 75-minute drive from my home, and I was scheduled to go on at 9 a.m. Did I mention I’m not a morning person? Or that I had only a vague idea how I was going to “wow” a packed house?

Presentation area at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar, CA

It didn’t seem fair to my audience, many of whom come year after year, to simply do what I’d done in the past. Roger’s Gardens is all about opulent, over-the-top displays of succulents and flowering plants. These fill lovely containers, often an urn or pedestal pot that gives the nod to classic East Coast or European design—like this mounded succulent arrangement I made several years ago:

After checking the presentation area and setting up my camcorder and tripod, I made a beeline for the indoor retail boutique—an eye-candy cache of home decor enhancements that change kaleidoscopically with the seasons. Their buyer must have a ball. The shop is chock full of items of glass, glossy metal, colorful fabrics, and themed stuff…which is what I wanted. I already knew two parts of my design equation—succulents and summer—all I needed was a third. An array of shells sold me, in particular this wreath. Its colors go so beautifully with succulents. During my demo, I popped a ruffled echeveria into a cache pot that suggests tidal beach sand, then placed the pot in the center of the wreath to create a summery tabletop display.

I also combined rosy-pink barnacles from the store with cuttings of a pink-tipped, cream-striped crassula:

My third potted arrangement needed to be a show-stopper. Roger’s sells plenty of decorative pots, and this year large, ceramic-shell planters were new. I decided to fill one with succulents suggestive of undersea flora and fauna. The grouping shown here was done by Roger’s Gardens:

As well as this plaster clam shell:

And this is the one I made during my presentation. To see how it came together, start to finish, view my recently released video: Succulents, Shells and Summer: Debra’s Potting Demo at Roger’s Gardens. Enjoy!

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How Three Designers Express Their Love of Succulents

I’m pleased to share with you three artist-designers whose work delights me. Dyana sells in art galleries; Mike hosts in-studio workshops; and Tari has a bright new Ebay store. See if you don’t agree: Each celebrates succulents in fun, appealing and creative ways. (Photos used with permission.)

Tari Colbry of Reclaim-It 

No two of Tari Colbry’s succulent-planted squares are exactly alike, yet each highlights the geometry of succulents. She suggests showcasing them as table centerpieces for homes, weddings, and other social events.

Made from reclaimed wood, moss and wire, Tari’s squares individually are great for small garden spaces—I have six on my deck—atop tables and grouped on walls. Spritz the moss every few days (depending on the weather) and keep them in bright shade or dappled sun. Tari also makes lovely wreaths and hanging succulent balls.  Visit her new shop.

Dyana Hesson, botanical artist

Arizona artist Dyana Hesson‘s paintings of succulents are colorful, detailed and realistic; her style, sophisticated and skillful. The luminosity with which Dyana conveys the soul of a succulent results from thinly applied, layered, and blended oils.

Painting, she says, gives her a way to express aspects of the natural world that she’s unable to do via photography alone. Visit Dyana’s website.

Mike Pyle, Hunt Collective Ltd. 

In his Orange County design studio, Mike Pyle designs furniture, succulent planters and more. Several times a month, Mike crafts ten or so similar containers from pallet wood, then hosts a workshop during which attendees plant one to take home, enjoy a fun social event, and learn about succulents.

Mike, who will soon launch a line of Midcentury Modern furniture, also does landscape design and consulting. In fact, a photo of his studio garden graces the cover of the second edition of Designing with Succulents (shown below). Visit Mike’s website.

Do you have a favorite succulent artist? Send me a link!

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Highlights of the Fall Garden Party at Waterwise Botanicals Nursery

There was so much beauty at Waterwise Botanicals nursery near San Diego during the recent Fall Garden Party (an annual event near San Diego featuring succulents), I’ll let the photos I took speak for themselves. Cue rhapsodic music!

Just when I think I've seen one too many succulent topped pumpkins, one comes along that's beyond gorgeous

Just when I feel I’ve seen too many succulent topped pumpkins, one comes along that takes my breath away.

This tricholobivia has formed quite a colony of offsets

The display gardens are worth visiting, year-round, for design ideas plus practical-yet-lovely plant combos.

The staff makes lovely dish gardens, each unique

The staff makes lovely dish gardens for sale. No two are like.

At my booth during the event, I did impromptu plant-pot pairings

At my booth during the event, I did impromptu plant-pot pairings.

The best way to pair pots is to take them to the nursery with you. Who would have thought that purple pleiospilos was perfect for this whimsical fish pot?

The best way to select plants for a pot is to take it to the nursery with you. Who would have expected purple pleiospilos to be perfect for this whimsical fish? Yet when the two were alongside each other, it seemed obvious.

Metal clay artist Lucy Ellen stopped by to brainstorm new designs.

Metal clay artist Lucy Ellen of Escondido stopped by my booth to brainstorm workshop ideas.

The display garden near the entrance was designed to suggest the desert in bloom, while using plants more suited to a coastal climate

Nursery manager Tom Jesch designed the display garden near the nursery entrance to suggest the desert in bloom. The plants he chose are suited to a more maritime climate.

I love the geometry and textures of columnar cacti, especially when illuminated by the sun

I love the geometry and textures of columnar cacti—especially when illuminated by the sun—don’t you?

Silvery blue Echeveria peacockii in one of the display gardens

Silvery blue Echeveria peacockii graces one of the display gardens.

A miniature succulent garden at one of the workshops

A miniature succulent garden at one of the workshops.

A succulent holiday three, mainly of sempervivums and sedums, was a workshop project

This succulent holiday tree, made mainly of sempervivums and sedums, was another workshop project.

One workshop was about planting driftwood with succulents

…As was planting driftwood with succulents.

Aeonium 'Zwartkop' backlit

Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ backlit.

Those filamented edges!

Those glowing, filamented edges!

An Echeveria cultivar tough enough to grow in the open garden

An Echeveria cultivar tough enough to grow in the open garden. I believe it’s ‘Sahara’.

A green Echeveria cultivar has offset into a large mound in one of the display gardens

Over time, this Echeveria ‘Green Crush’ offset to form an impressive, hens-and-chicks mound.

I'm obsessed with this red cryptobergia bromeliad, a colorful low-water companion for succulents

Red cryptobergia is a desert bromeliad that makes a colorful, low-water companion for succulents and a great addition to potted combos.

Nursery manager Tom Jesch repurposed a toy truck as a planter for succulents

Tom Jesch repurposed a toy truck as a planter for succulents.

Masses of coppertone stonecrop and graptosedum

Masses of coppertone stonecrop and graptosedum carpet the ground in one of the display gardens.

Columnar cacti, haloed by late afternoon sun

Columnar cacti, haloed by late afternoon sun, point to festive white tents where workshops were held.

If you didn't make it, here's one more thing you missed: taking home a free one-gallon succulent. (Don't feel bad. Maybe next time!)

Forgive me if this makes you gnash your teeth, but if you didn’t make it to this year’s Fall Garden Party, you missed taking home one of these free one-gallon succulents.

Hey, there’s always next time! ~ Debra

Agave victoriae-reginae
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My Succulent Meditation Garden

No doubt you’ve experienced how gardening can be a form of meditation. But have you considered how the plants themselves might enhance your sense of serenity? I’m conceptualizing a meditation area with succulents that incorporate soothing geometric patterns and spirals.

Agave victoriae-reginae

Stretched canvas wall art piece by Debra Lee Baldwin

The eye never tires of following a circular design. Case in point: I sometimes catch myself staring at this canvas print, above, in my living room. (It’s more relaxing than the TV.)

My meditation garden will have at its center an egg chair in which I can swing and rock—a happy reminder of my childhood. I’ll arrange rosette succulents (see list below) around it, vary their sizes and distances, and create groupings of them that in themselves offer repetitions. The area will be in dappled shade, bordered by a terrace on one side and pots on the other. A solar-powered fountain will muffle traffic and neighborhood noise.

Deep-toned, bell-like wind chimes will provide a pleasant sound and enhance my awareness of breezes. I listened to several wind chimes (anything’s possible on the Internet) and ordered Corinthian Bells 44-inch wind chimes. At $116 they’re a splurge, but anything smaller was too high pitched. (It helps that the fountain and chair are bargains.)

Additional tactile elements are the warmth of the sun, fresh air filling my lungs (“remember to breathe!” says my yoga instructor), cushy outdoor pillows, and maybe my dog on my lap. (I’d prefer a purring cat, but my husband’s allergic. Memo: See if neighbor will loan me her kitty.)

As for fragrance…in spring my garden has scents of orange blossoms and wisteria, and I’ve often thought of trying to grow jasmine again (my first attempt failed), but it’s easier to simply find incense I like. Doesn’t incense for outdoors sound wonderful? I ordered this assortment, which includes sandalwood, jasmine and others.

Finally, I’ll invigorate my taste buds with chilled water that has a few drops of mint essential oil. Or if it’s chilly, a cup of hot chamomile tea.

On to the plants! Here’s my short list of favorite symmetrical succulents:

— Large aeoniums, ideally variegated

04-Aeonium 'Sunburst'

— Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’

Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'

— Pachyverias

33-Pachyveria

— Sempervivums that have offset in a hens-and-chicks fashion

91-Sempervivum

— Large, colorful echeverias

45-Echeveria, ruffled hybrid

— Echeveria imbricata

51-Echeveria imbricata

— Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’

103-Echeveria 'Cubic Frost'

— Euphorbia ‘Snowflake’

37-Euphorbia 'Snowflake'

— Stacked crassulas

Crassula capitella ssp thyrsiflora

— Agave lophantha ‘Quadricolor’

151-Agave lophantha 'Quadricolor'

— Agave victoriae-reginae

141-Agave victoriae-reginae

— Agave parryi ‘Truncata’


Agave parryi var truncata

— Aloe nobilis or any symmetrical red-orange aloe

21-Aloe nobilis

I’ll keep you posted as it all comes together. In the meantime…The newly popular activity of coloring a detailed line drawing also reduces stress, and mandalas (which means “circle” in Hindu) are useful as meditation aids. You’ll find succulent mandalas plus line drawings of the plants shown above in my coloring book for adults, Sensational Succulents. 

Succulent bath decor
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Succulent Art, Decor and Gift Items

Decorative items depicting succulents are trending on the home and garden scene. Succulent rosettes may replace traditional florals on fabric, paper, jewelry and more. For example…

Succulent Throw Pillows  You know those throw pillows you’re tired of? Give them—and your sofa—a facelift with your favorite succulents. Made of cotton blend linen, each of these 18 x 18-inch pillow covers has a hidden zipper. Stuff an old throw pillow into one, zip it up, and voila: you’ve repurposed a boring pillow into one you adore. Best of all, these cost only $8 apiece and come in six appealing designs.

Succulent pillow covers

Succulent pillow covers update your existing 18×18 throw pillows and have concealed zippers

Succulent shower curtain  Enhance a guest bath or jazz up your own. This colorful watercolor of a sunlit echeveria pairs beautifully with towels in the same rainbow hues. Size 66 x 72 inches, polyester, curtain hooks included. A wonderful conversation piece. Around $30.

This design is also available as place mats. 

Succulent bath decor

Let it rain! Brighten your bath with an echeveria shower curtain

Agave Watercolor Serving Tray

Of all the paintings I’ve done, this watercolor of a variegated dwarf agave (Agave ‘Cream Spike’) may be my favorite. It’s available via my Zazzle store on a serving tray (shown here), several sizes of stretched canvas prints, a coffee mug and note cards. Zazzle items are pricey, and I make a mere 10% of the sales price, but at least it gets my work “out there.” I suggest you do as I do when buying from Zazzle: Never pay full price. Be alert for sales and discounts, which sometimes are as much as 50%.

Succulent serving tray

What succulent lover wouldn’t like a serving tray that incorporates an agave watercolor?

***Debra Predicts***

Succulent decor items

Copper pendant by jewelry artist Kathaleen Oxford, koxford711@gmail.com

We’ll see succulents used more and more for jewelry, tile, mosaic, scarves, wrapping paper, buttons, place mats, gift bags, coasters, napkins, pillows, upholstery and more. Consider: Florals have graced paper and fabric for centuries, appearing on everything from wallpaper to pajamas. When depicted in two dimensions, the difference between a succulent rosette and a flower is the center. Succulents have emerging leaves; roses, tiny overlapping petals. Flowers also have a central disk (pistil). Succulent leaves are thicker than petals. Rosettes may crowd together in a hens-and-chicks fashion, send forth flowers themselves, and seldom have long, slender stems.

Why not create your own succulent-embellished items? Start with one of the 75 line drawings in my coloring book, Sensational Succulents. 

Check back! More to come. And do let me know if you run across an especially lovely succulent-themed home, garden or gift item, OK? ~ Debra

Greenhouse for succulents in display garden
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Succulents at the Spring Home/Garden Show

Succulent display garden

I zipped around San Diego’s Spring Home/Garden show right before the judging, cell in hand. (When in a hurry, I use my phone to take photos in dim light instead of my fancy-schmancy Canon.) I was delighted with what I saw. No question I’m biased, but the display garden (above) showcasing plants from Desert Theater nursery, and designed by Steve McDearmon of Garden Rhythms and Katie Christensen of Miss Katie’s Garden, was my favorite. You could plunk the whole shebang in your front yard for a great-looking, low-maintenance lawn-replacement landscape.

The show is the first Fri.-Sat.-Sun. of March every year. You’ll have to pay parking, but you needn’t pay the admission price of $9 at the door. Obtain a FREE PASS by going to the show’s Buy Tickets page and entering this special code for my fans and followers: DLBA.

Have fun!

Succulent display garden

Apologies for photos that lack credits. None of the display gardens had names on them because they were about to be judged. If you want to ID them in a comment below, please do!

Greenhouse for succulents in display garden

St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center (display garden above) helps adults with developmental disabilities. Gardening, propagating plants and selling them is a big part of it. I love the greenhouse in their display garden!

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Do I detect a trend brewing? This lovely display combines succulents (dudleyas) with red bromeliads and other low-water tropicals.

Succulent vertical display garden

Melissa Teisl and Jon Hawley design gardens as Chicweed Design & Landscaping. Although they sold their floral shop in Solana Beach, you can still see aspects of it in their gardens, like the lovely vertical display above. I’ll bet the sandbox behind it was inspired by their little boy.Potted aloe garden by Chicweed

This mosaic pot filled with succulents also is in Chicweed Design & Landscaping’s display garden.

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Speaking of lovely succulent container gardens, this one is by Katie Christensen for Desert Theater. The gorgeous purple plant is a dyckia, a type of bromeliad that’s succulent. Dyckias would doubtless be more popular if they didn’t have leaf edges as sharp as steak knives. (Katie, are you bleeding?)

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Also in the Desert Theater display is “Miss Katie’s potting bench.”

Succulent container gardens

Miss Katie brings a feminine aesthetic to succulents.

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Judges give bonus points for labeled plants. This is a charming way to do it, don’t you think?

IMG_4306The display garden above, which incorporates agaves and dasylirions, utilizes a lot of interesting hardscape and topdressings, which after all are THE ultimate way to have a waterwise garden.

echeverias in metal bowl

And isn’t this stunning? So simple! Pass the oil and vinegar. (Kidding.)

Don’t forget, you can get a free pass by going to the Show’s website and entering my special discount code: DLBA. If you missed it this year, subscribe to my newsletter (below), and I’ll give you a head’s up for next year.

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Succulent Driftwood Designs

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It’s surprisingly easy to make a succulent driftwood planter that looks professionally designed. Each piece of driftwood has its own personality and suggests a different flow of succulents. The plants resemble undersea flora, and the wood hints at something you’d see in a forest. The two combine to make a special, almost fantasy-like composition that works well as a patio centerpiece or special gift for a friend. These photos are from a recent succulents-and-driftwood workshop. Be sure to also watch my video, Succulents in Driftwood (2:51).

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Driftwood pieces (from Sea Foam Driftwood) come with pre-drilled crevices for potting.

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Materials include small potted succulents, cuttings, sea shells, bits of tumbled glass, moss, rocks and sand. Tools are clippers, hot glue, and a chopstick for tucking-in plants and settling roots.

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Begin by filling the planting hole with potting soil.

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Add small rooted succulents and cuttings, envisioning them as undersea flora and fauna growing in and on submerged logs.

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Use a chopstick to tuck floral moss into remaining gaps. Moss will conceal any exposed soil and help hold cuttings in place until they root.

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Cuttings selected by Julie Levi include trailers (Ruschia perfoliata, Crassula lycopodioides), colorful rosettes (Sedum nussbaumerianum and Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’), and Crassula tetragona, among others. A sea urchin shell, attached with hot glue, is the perfect finishing touch.

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Connie Levi chose a slightly different assortment: Crassula lycopodioides (watch-chain crassula), a dwarf aloe, Aeonium haworthii, Crassula perforata ‘Variegata’ (a stacked crassula), and for upright interest (at right), Hatiora salicornioides.

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Linda Powell filled her piece of driftwood with pieces of jade, Kalanchoe pumila, variegated aeoniums, an echeveria, a dwarf aloe that resembles a sea star, and dainty cremnosedum rosettes. I like how she clustered smaller shells, too.

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Libbi Salvo’s long piece of driftwood, with several areas for planting, would make a good centerpiece for a rectangular outdoor table.

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Find out more in my YouTube video: Succulents in Driftwood (2:51)

 

Garden Gossip Radio with Debra Lee Baldwin
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Debra on Garden Gossip Radio in Santa Barbara

On Garden Gossip Radio (AM 1290 KZSB), Lisa Cullen and I talked about decorating succulents for the holidays, and how to decorate WITH succulents as well. This post illustrates several of the topics and gives links to more in-depth descriptions. The link to the full interview can be found below!

Debra Lee Baldwin on Garden Gossip Radio

 

 
 


 

Decorate Your Agaves!

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Turn your agaves into an explosion of festive color with glass ball ornaments. Agaves can be a bit treacherous, so be careful, but the risk is worth the reward!

Crassula tetragona is a type of jade that looks like a pine tree.
Crassula tetragona

Make a Wired Succulent Bouquet

Succulent Bouquet by Debra Lee Baldwin
For a lovely hostess gift, make a succulent bouquet with a dozen rosette succulents, floral wire and tape, and a simple ballast such as sand. Perfect for holiday parties!

 

Easy, Breezy Succulent Wreath

What’s the secret to a great succulent wreath? Color!

Succulent Wreath by Debra Lee Baldwin
My recent blog post on Katie Christensen’s Succulent Wreath Class has lovely photographs and a ton of ideas to choose from. Don’t miss it!

How to make a Succulent Topped Anything


In this video, I discuss how to make a succulent topped pumpkin with San Diego garden designer Laura Eubanks. With over 10,000 views on YouTube this video is a treat and, for all you DIYers, easy to follow. Use this technique to add succulents to anything from pine cone ornaments to napkin rings.

 


Special thanks to Chris and Lisa Cullen from Garden Gossip Radio for having me on the show!

Chris and Lisa Garden Gossip

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Holiday Decorating with Succulents

This time of year, the succulent elves bundle up, go into the garden, and transform it into a holiday wonderland. Should I reward them with cocoa, or considering their size, chocolate chips?

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When you’re not much bigger than a caterpillar, you take your life in your hands when you decorate an agave. But look at the results!

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Yikes. Santa must have spilled the contents of his sleigh. I understand why the elves left the presents where they landed, don’t you?

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Aw. Look how they refilled his sleigh. IMG_5149bSo many agaves, so little time…

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Ho, ho, ho.