Succulent coloring book
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Announcing My New Succulent Coloring Book!


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I’m proud and pleased to announce the release of my latest book: “Sensational Succulents, an adult coloring book of amazing shapes and magical patterns” published by Timber Press. The line drawings, based on my photos, are by illustrator Laura Serra.

Succulents beautifully illustrate nature’s artistry. By immersing yourself in the patterns and geometry of succulents, you’ll discover yet another reason to enjoy the plants, and gain greater insight into why you love gardens and gardening.

All photos used for the coloring book are on my website so you can refer to them, if you like, when selecting which colors to use.

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Graptoveria 'Fred Ives'
I used the line drawing of Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ from the book and the photo that inspired (shown above) it to paint the watercolor I’m holding below.

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I also made a 4-minute video that shows how I traced the image onto watercolor paper, masked white areas of the photo, applied washes, and painted one leaf at a time by dropping in dabs of color.

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Adult coloring books are popular because they offer hours of stress-relieving, creative fun. Sensational Succulents is filled with a huge array of plants that inherently have geometric patterns—in fact, succulents are known for them. Illustrations appear on only one side of a high-quality paper that supports a variety of mediums, including pencils and markers.

I hope you’ll discover the relaxing pleasure of coloring via my new book.

Postscripts ~

Sunset magazine recommended the book in their “Best of the West” column:Sunset item

This example is from the book’s back cover:

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I used colored pencils for this one. The book’s page on my website has the line drawing for the same image, which you’re welcome to download.

Succulent coloring book

 

“What could be better inspiration for artists than the intricate rosettes and fractal-like patterns found in so many succulents? They are vividly-colored and have varied gradations in tone, making them an ideal subject for that grownup coloring trend I’ve come to love. Sensational Succulents, a new coloring book from the queen of succulents Debra Lee Baldwin and illustrated by Laura Serra, has 75 images from Debra’s books that have been transformed into line drawings, ready for you to color. The paper is thick, and unlike many coloring books which have so many lines that it’s hard to do anything freehand, the outlines of the succulents give just enough room for us to take some artistic license in shading. She even has instructions on her website for transferring the illustrations to watercolor paper, if you want to get creative in another medium.” — Genevieve Schmidt, North Coast Journal (Northern CA)

 

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.

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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.

Why are succulents so popular
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Why Are Succulents So Popular?

Succs in the City? So it seems. Just as ferns made Victorians swoon, succulents are seducing today’s urban high-rise inhabitants. Among them is columnist Gwyneth Kelly, who specializes in edgy, controversial, shocking topics. Case in point: her recent foray into the Tinder scene. But she and I didn’t talk about flesh pots. Just fleshy plants in pots.

Gwyn, a reporter/researcher with The New Republic (a Washington DC-based publication) emailed: “I’m curious to know whether you have any theories as to why the popularity of succulents has surged at this moment in time, and whether there have been other eras when they’ve been as popular.”

I asked my publisher to send Gwyn a copy of my book, Succulents Simplified, and emailed her 11 reasons why succulents are popular: they’re a good lawn alternative for regions with water shortages; are fire-resistant and fire-retardant (good perimeter plants for backcountry gardens prone to wildfire); are simple to cultivate and propagate; require minimal maintenance; range in size from ground covers to trees; have geometric shapes; add interest to gardens large and small; are intriguing year-round; come in every color including blue; produce long-lasting, vivid flowers; and new cultivars are being introduced all the time.

During the ensuing phone interview, I gave Gwyn an in-depth overview of the Succulent Explosion. Because many of her readers live in space-constrained high-rise apartments and condos, I suggested she recommend that they grow succulents in hanging glass globes. I offered as many photos as she might need.

Succulent Terrarium by Debra Lee Baldwin

The interview had lots of reporterly camaraderie; like Gwyn, I’m a journalist. We’re both wordies. I had read one of her earlier articles and (wowsa!) learned TWO new words: dystopia and Tinder. But I couldn’t help wonder if the outcome would be similar to my past experiences with reporters: An hourlong chat followed by a single-sentence quote. Not that I mind, as long as the quote is a good one. So I made a small request: “The quote that reporters seem to use most is ‘People used to say they hate succulents. Now they say they love them.’ So would you please use a different one?”

She did, but…

“Although succulents had been popular as easy houseplants, ‘the general perception of succulents among the gardening public was that they were a poor man’s plant, that they were common, they weren’t what a sophisticated gardener wanted,’ said garden writer Debra Lee Baldwin.”

I prefer being called a “garden photojournalist and author,” but I’m a writer too, so that’s cool. Thankfully later on, the article mentions all three of my books. But—and reporters, please note how teeth-gnashing this is for book authors—there were no links.

I’m not complaining. Fellow logophile Gwyn is a glowing succulent convert. Plus, her article contains this gem of a word: pteridomania (“fern madness”). She used it when comparing the Victorian era’s fascination for ferns to the current obsession with succulents. Doubtless I can work it into casual conversation. Hey, I’ve already used it in a blog post (this one).

Read Gwyn’s article in the New Republic.

 

For a New York Magazine reporter’s shocking take on the Succulent Phenomenon, see my earlier post: How to Kill Succulents.

 


 

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How to Kill Succulents

How To Kill Succulents

What IS it with New Yorkers? Whatever we’re cheerfully crazy about on the West Coast is dismissed by somber-clothed subway sprinters as idiotic. Or at least that’s the vibe I got from a reporter with New York Magazine, who disguised her weather envy with a lot of polite questions. Evidently what she really wanted was yet more reasons to diss succulents.

Jamie Lauren Keiles emailed that she was researching an article on how to kill succulents, and would I be available for a phone interview? I responded that I had killed plenty and would be happy to explain how.

I figured she was kidding.

SHE WASN’T. An excerpt:

“What kind of asshole hates a plant? Me, I guess. A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop in Bed-Stuy, glowering at a jade plant in a ceramic mug, unable to get the phrase benign uterine polyp out of my head. The surge of disgust took me by surprise. For most of my life, I believed myself to like succulents. I loved them, even. In the same way that a baby’s oversize head and round eyes provoke empathy, the plump and whimsical leaves of these desert plants felt undeniably cute. But as with babies, more plants does not necessarily equal more cute. One baby? Adorable. Hundreds of babies in twee upcycled teacups atop every coffee-shop table and windowsill in your neighborhood? A nightmare.”

I emailed her: “just read your article on killing succulents, and would like you to know that they forgive you, sappy plants that they are.”

To not leave the question begging—and because succulent lovers (as well as haters) need to know—

“But what if one did want to kill a succulent? Or many succulents? Hypothetically speaking.

‘Their roots are not set up to deal with too much water,’ Baldwin told me. ‘So the No. 1 way to kill a succulent is to love it too much.’

With this in mind, we succulent-haters wait in hiding. It’s only a matter of time.”

Btw, I had told Jamie, “Every reporter’s favorite quote from me seems to be, ‘People used to say they hate succulents. Now they say they love them.’ So would you please use a different one?”

She wrote:

“Baldwin worked with succulents before the current fad, in an era when plant-lovers considered them ‘common’ and ‘for poor people.'”

But hey, she did mention my books. Even linked to them…more or less. (After the article appeared without links, I sent her a heart-rending reminder.)

 

For another East Coast reporter’s opinion and perspective, you might enjoy my post: Why Are Succulents So Popular?

 


 

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