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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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Gerhard Bock’s Review of Designing with Succulents

It’s a thrill for an author when a reviewer “gets” what a book’s all about. But succulent expert/blogger/photographer Gerhard Bock frankly floored me with his insights and evaluation of the second edition of Designing with Succulents. 

Excerpt:

Sometimes the second edition of a popular book is little more than a cosmetic update, maybe featuring a new foreword, a different page design, and some new photos. Not so here. The second edition of Designing with Succulents may share the same basic organization as the first edition—the first half covering design principles, the second half showcasing the best plants for a variety of applications—but the nuts and bolts of the book have been completely reworked. In the preface,

Debra says:

The world of succulent design has advanced so significantly since the first edition of Designing with Succulentswas released in 2007 that this second edition is a complete rewrite—in effect a new book. It showcases the cleverness and creativity of numerous designers and gardening enthusiasts, many of whom used the first edition as a starting point.

Let’s talk a closer look at the book. Beyond the preface and introduction, it consists of six major sections. “Succulent Landscape Essentials: Plan and Design Your Dream Garden” covers basics such as site selection and soil preparation; design principles such as scale and proportion, repetition, contrast, emphasis, shape and texture, and color; hardscape elements such as walls, raised beds, pathways, and terraces; as well as outdoor art.

“Specialty Gardens That Showcase Succulents” shows how succulents can be used in a variety of specific garden styles, including boulder and rock gardens, seaside and sea-themed gardens, desert gardens, firewise gardens, green roofs, container gardens, tapestry gardens, and miniature landscapes.

“Success Secrets for Succulents” covers the basics of planting, watering and fertilizing, pest, damage and weed control as well as growing succulents in challenging climates—everything from hot and dry, rainy and humid, to cold climates. This chapters also touches on various propagation techniques.

“Succulents A to Z” contains Debra’s “favorite foolhardy succulents for gardens large and small.” Organized in alphabetical order, this section describes the best species and cultivars from all common succulent genera—from aeoniums to yuccas.

“A Designer’s Palette: Plant Lists for Succulents” builds on the previous section, listing popular succulents according to characteristics such as size (tall, midsize, small), leaf variegation, leaf color, and “dramatic blooms.”

“Top Fifty Waterwise Companion Plants for Succulents” showcases a selection of trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses that not only look good in combination with succulents but also share similar cultivation requirements.

My favorite addition to the second edition are the Featured Gardens. At the beginning of each section, Debra introduces us to a very special succulent-centric garden. For example, she describes the evolution of her own ½ acre garden over the last ten years—in her words, “a giant editing job”—and takes us to other gardens in San Diego, on the Central Coast, and in Northern California. All these examples illustrate how harmoniously succulents blend into just about any garden style.

What I noticed immediately when I received my copy of the book was its visual elegance. The superb page design, combined with arguably the best succulent photographs ever to to appear in a mainstream title, make the second edition of Designing with Succulents the most handsome commercially published gardening book I’ve ever seen.

As a photographer, Debra does know that one well-chosen photo often stirs a reader’s imagination more than a page of even the most evocative prose. Still, without words to back up the images, visual beauty is just skin-deep. So while it’s possible to enjoy the second edition of Designing with Succulents as a lavish photo book, its real value is the wealth of information contained in its pages. Debra’s writing is clear as a bell and conveys even complex information without going over their heads. It simply is a joy to read.

Read the rest of the review. 

 

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Announcing the Second Edition of Designing with Succulents!

 

Available for pre-order now. Ships Aug. 27, 2017

When publisher Timber Press proposed a celebratory 10th anniversary, second edition of Designing with Succulents, I figured all I’d have to do is change a word here and there and add a few photos. So I agreed to what seemed like a reasonable deadline—six months. But as soon as I dove into the project, I realized so much had changed that a complete rewrite and almost entirely new photos were in order.

To meet the deadline, I worked 12-hour days and weekends, often in pajamas with uncombed hair, too much coffee, and a dog that needed to go out. With the guidance of a terrific editor—Lorraine Anderson—I ripped the book open, pulled out its innards, rewrote the text, and agonized over the photos. It was so difficult to winnow the selection to 400!

How can I express my pride in this second edition of Designing with Succulents? It’s like birthing a child (except that was easier). It’s my magnum opus. Above all, it’s my gift to you—to anyone—intrigued by these elegant plants and their potential to enhance gardens and landscapes.

And don’t you just love the cover?

The second edition of Designing with Succulents is available for pre-order now. It ships August 27.

Obtain a signed copy from me at the annual Succulent Extravaganza at Succulent Gardens nursery in Castroville, CA (near Santa Cruz), Sept. 22-23; or at the San Diego Horticultural Society meeting Oct. 9. I’m speaking at both events.

The cover of the original edition of Designing with Succulents

Learn more about the book that launched worldwide interest in succulents: the first edition of “Designing with Succulents,” released in 2007.

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Amy’s Circular Succulent Garden Re-Do

Also see my 5-minute YouTube video, “Circular Succulent Garden Start to Finish.”

When I first saw fitness coach Amy Van Liew’s circular garden and spherical fountain, I envisioned how it might look replanted with colorful succulents. A great fountain and garden bed deserve to be seen, especially when in the middle of a magnificent home’s entryway!

In the spring, when I took this photo of Amy, the flowers in the circle garden were impressive. However, aeoniums bloom once and then die. As you can see, they had already become leggy, and other plants (notably Sedum rubrotinctum) were overgrown and ratty. Moreover, the nearly concealed fountain was home to tadpoles.

Amy and husband Ed agreed it was time for a re-do. So, six months later, we created a new entry garden.

The basin now is filled (and concealed by) aqua-colored crushed rock that suggests water. This appears to overflow and create rock rivulets between planted areas that are top-dressed with pea gravel in a contrasting orange hue.

Each of six sections features a different kind of plant. We chose six of each kind, all in one-gallon pots, and all from Waterwise Botanicals nursery in nearby Bonsall, CA. Some have rounded leaves or a globular form that repeats the fountain’s. Except for one, all are succulents.

Sedum ‘Firestorm’ is a ground-cover succulent with red-orange leaves massed with clusters of tiny white flowers in spring.

Echeveria ‘Sahara’ is a new cultivar bred to be heat-tolerant, and therefore is suitable to a climate with summer temps in the 90s. It has a circular shape, lavender-pink-blue coloration, and produces dainty flower stalks in autumn.

Yet more circles can be seen in the leaves of Portulacaria afra ‘Minima’, a cultivar of elephant’s food. ‘Minima’ is a low-growing, heat-tolerant, ground-cover succulent with bright green foliage and red stems.

Blue fescue took the longest to become established—which is why I postponed showing the finished garden. This ornamental grass is doing great; it’s just s-l-o-w. As you can see, it has a mounding growth habit and slender, threadlike leaves that are truly blue.

Amy had had good luck with flapjack plants (Kalanchoe luciae), so we used them again, this time massing them for effect. A bonus is that their red-edged leaves are rounded—yet another echo of the fountain.

But nothing so perfectly repeated the fountain as these globular barrel cactus. I was pleased Amy wanted them; many people don’t because the plants are so spiny. But barrel cactus is not difficult to handle if you know how. The spines curve downward, so they’re not treacherous unless you push on them the wrong way (upward).

Here’s how the circle garden looked when finished last fall.

And how it looks now, six months later.

To see highlights of the installation, watch my 5-minute YouTube video, “Circular Succulent Garden Start to Finish.” The entire project took about two days, including time spent rounding up plants and materials.

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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

Succulent wreath
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Stunning Succulent Arrangements by my Craftsy Students

Succulent wreath, Craftsy class

I’m so pleased with designs created by students in my online class, Stunning Succulent Arrangements!

During the 7-lesson class, I explain succulent varieties, care and propagation; and show how to make wreaths, terrariums, floral-style arrangements, a succulent color wheel and more.

Craftsy’s student-oriented approach allows you to take the class anywhere and anytime; pause, rewind and restart at your convenience; view my answers to questions and ask your own; and share projects you’ve made. Access never expires.

Want to join my Craftsy community? Enroll now for half price—$20. 

Craftsy filming in Debra's garden

To film the class, Craftsy—the leading purveyor of online how-to instruction—sent a 3-person crew from their headquarters in Denver to my home near San Diego. They brought enough high-tech equipment to fill a spare bedroom. We spent three intense days filming.

A few more fabulous projects by my students:
Student project, succulent design class

Succulent mini landscape, Craftsy Succulent bridal bouquet, Craftsy

Student succulent wreath, Craftsy

A couple of the Q&A’s:

Craftsy class Q&A2

Craftsy class Q&A
I’m eager to see what you come up with! ~ Debra

Events

2018 Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, Seattle

The best of the West! Join me at the second largest flower-and-garden show in the US, second only to Philadelphia. I’ve spoken there numerous times, and each time I’ve been wowed by the exhibits and speakers. The convention center is downtown, with sweeping views of the waterfront, near many wonderful shops and restaurants. I’m giving two presentations ~

Wed., Feb. 7 at 11:15/Hood Room/Book signing to follow: Sensational, Easy-Care Succulents in Containers
Eye-catching ideas for portable gardens that range from vertical displays and hostess gifts to multi-plant arrangements.

Thurs., Feb. 8 at 12:30/Hood Room/Book signing to follow: Designing with Succulents in the Pacific Northwest
Debra gives her perspective on the surging popularity of “plants that drink responsibly,” not only in warm, dry regions of the US but also in cool, wet climates like Seattle’s.