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It’s the Succulent Extravaganza!

It’s the Succulent Extravaganza! Every year, this fun and enriching event is the last Friday and Saturday of September, from 8 to 4, at Succulent Gardens Nursery. Location: 2133 Elkhorn Rd., Castroville, CA 95012 (in northern CA near San Francisco, between Carmel and Santa Cruz). Free.

The annual Succulent Extravaganza, started in 2010, is one of the largest succulent-themed events in the world. Attending it is a wonderful opportunity to enlarge your knowledge of succulents, view and acquire gorgeous specimen plants, tour a premier specialty nursery, learn from expert growers and top designers, and mingle with fellow enthusiasts.

Succulent Extravaganza

The Succulent Fanatics, a Facebook group founded by San Jose master gardener Laura Balaoro, host a display table with succulent-themed compositions made by members. It’s a fun gathering spot, and everyone’s welcome whether you’re in the group or not. Because it’s international and has thousands of members, you never know whom you might meet.

Succulent Extravaganza

This dish garden seen on the Succulent Fanatics table, by Danielle Romero, has a sansevieria that emphasizes a lovely red-edged aeonium. Danielle and husband Michael Romero professionally design succulent gardens in the Los Angeles area.

Every year there are new things to see and numerous photo ops…

Succulent extravaganza

For example, who could resist having their photo taken within a special succulent frame?

Succulent Extravaganza

Laura Balaoro is known for decorating her hat or visor with succulents. Discover out how she does it, and get design inspiration to make your own. 

Succulent Extravaganza

This giant succulent heart was the hit of a past Succulent Extravaganza. The event originated when succulent expert Robin Stockwell owned the nursery. He has since retired, and new owners Megan and John Rodkin have continued the Extravaganza tradition with quality plants, displays and photogenic, inspirational ideas.

Succulent Extravaganza

Horticulturist-nurseryman Aaron Ryan’s propagation demonstrations typically have standing room only. Impressed by Aaron’s knowledge, I did a post about it and show his methods in several YouTube videos.

Succulent Extravaganza

Another year, the succulent globe that Robin Stockwell made for the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show was on display. Nothing like it had been done before, and I think you’ll agree it takes vertical gardens to a whole new level! In the foreground, with Robin and wife Sanne looking on, San Diego floral designer Marialuisa Kaprielian demonstrates how to wire succulent rosettes.

Succulent Extravaganza
This may be my favorite Extravaganza photo. A young member of the Rodkin family greets visitors in front of a big succulent spiral made of sedums and sempervivums.

Related info on this site:

Related videos on my YouTube channel:

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Super Succulent Celebration Highlights

Welcome to my booth at the Super Succulent Celebration! The succulents were superb and vendors offered stunning pots and garden decor, but what made the March 23-24 event at Waterwise Botanicals Nursery truly special for me were the people.

Top right: Mom and son model crowns decorated with Sculpey succulents. Center left: The king of succulents, Robin Stockwell. Center: Shirley Kost-Haskell shows her cactus T-shirt to Laura Balaoro, founder of the Succulent Fanatics Facebook groupCenter right: A barrel cactus knitted by Susan Morse blooms with crochet flowers. Lower left: Succulent Fanatic Deana Rae McMillion of Carpenteria, CA. Bottom center: Hannah Eubanks of Design for SerenityLower right: Potter Susan Aach and me.

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Upper left: Emily, the Succulent Bride, brought her BFFs. Upper right: Queen Kay decorates her Succulent Coloring Bag. Center: Jason and Sean drove from Arizona (Jason has a tree growing out of his head…my bad). Center right: Succulent celeb Patrick Anderson brought his mom (no, that’s not her). Center: The speaker’s tent and display gardens. Lower left: Sculpey agave. Bottom middle: Succulent princess. Lower right: Talavera pot with succulents, Susan Morse design.

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Upper right: Pat, my Saturday helper from Orange County. Center: Coronation of future succuteers. Lower left: Dylan and Kaitlyn of CSG Succulents. Bottom center and right: Oh, the cuteness!

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Now on my YouTube Channel: Debra Lee Baldwin Up Close and Personal

I share my past and passions in a fun and candid interview with Tom Jesch, manager and founder of Waterwise Botanicals, during the 2018 Super Succulent Celebration. 

Related info:

Super Succulent Celebration at Waterwise Botanicals (event description) ~ Join me at a super celebration of all things succulent! I’ll be at Waterwise Botanicals nursery both days…[Continue reading]

The Designing with Succulents Resource List ~ These designers and nurseries are in the completely revised and updated second edition of Designing with Succulents...[Continue reading]

San Diego Succulent Sources and Destinations ~ Due to a perfect climate for succulents and a surging demand, San Diego county has a wealth of succulent specialty nurseries…[Continue reading]


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Succulent Extravaganza Highlights, 2017

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

Members of the Succulent Fanatics 2 Facebook Group take advantage of a hanging frame planted with sempervivums and echeverias. A perfect photo-op!

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights ~ The 7th annual Succulent Extravaganza (Fri-Sat, Sept. 29-30) at Succulent Gardens Nursery in Castroville, CA drew about 1,000 visitors a day. Not bad for a relatively small wholesale/retail nursery out in the boonies 100 miles south of San Francisco. There’s an energy there, some might say a vortex, that whirls visitors into a state of enchantment.

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

Debra Lee Baldwin and Hannah Eubanks

Hannah Eubanks, designer Laura Eubanks‘ daughter, was my assistant and took lots of footage of event highlights and my presentations. During the Extravaganza, Hannah posted short videos on my Instagram and Facebook pages. I’ll soon release longer, edited versions on YouTube. To be notified of new releases, subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Although the greenhouses themselves, viewed from outside, are about as pretty as quonset huts (which they resemble) there’s true magic inside—rows and rows of perfectly grown echeverias, aloes, kalanchoes, haworthias, sedums, sempervivums and more.

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

Much of the fun of returning year after year is seeing old friends and making new ones. The staff is friendly and welcoming, plant enthusiasts come from near and far, stellar speakers like Brian Kemble of the Ruth Bancroft Garden share their knowledge. Nursery founder and fellow book author Robin Stockwell was there, as were many delightful members of the Facebook group “Succulent Fanatics 2” founded by San Jose designer Laura Balaoro.

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

Laura Balaoro of the Succulent Fanatics 2 Facebook group, with her snorkeling-themed succulent display

Laura’s also known for her stunning succulent decorated hats. (See my article about her in Country Gardens.) I think she outdid herself on this one, don’t you?

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

Laura Balaoro’s sea-themed, succulent decorated hat

 

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

A barn door’s peeling paint makes a great backdrop for this sempervivum-planted square

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

All sizes and shapes of containers suitable for planting are available at the nursery. They seem to have the best selection of wooden ones anywhere.

 

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

IMHO, the nursery’s potted succulent gardens were better than ever this year

Also at the 2017 Extravaganza, I launched my new book, the completely revised and updated second edition of Designing with Succulents. We sold out the first day.

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

Audiences for my presentations were enthusiastic and engaged.

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

A speaker’s dream! SRO!

When it seemed the Extravaganza couldn’t get any better, my book’s publisher Timber Press provided a succulent-decorated cake!

Succulent Extravaganza Highlights

The cake, by Sweet Reba’s of Carmel, CA, combines succulents with books

Related info on this site:

LA Drought-Tolerant Plant Festival Highlights

At the recent Drought Tolerant Plant Festival, I managed to smile despite sitting on a cactus cOUCH.

Debra Lee Baldwin cactus couch

The LACSS (Los Angeles chapter of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America) hosts this popular garden festival every June at the Sepulveda Garden Center (a community garden) in Encino, CA. The setting is parklike, with grass underfoot and tall trees providing shade. As you approach the festival area, you walk past garden plots tended by members of the community, each space abundant with flowers and fruit-bearing vines. Some even have little sitting areas, arches and birdbaths.

An auditorium on the grounds is perfect for hosting flower shows and meetings, and during the Festival it served well to showcase beautifully staged, rare and collectible succulents owned by club members, who number 200. This one is part of a larger exhibit of sansevierias:

Cascading sansevieria

The vendor tents were enticing, and despite being busy at the book signing table, I found time to hunt for my favorite souvenirs: one-of-a-kind, artist-designed pots perfect for succulents. These are by Regina Fernandez of Port Town Pottery:

Succulent pottery

I was happy to meet Pablo of Peetypots, whose pottery I had admired on Instagram and Facebook’s Succulent Infatuation group. I also ran into the group’s moderator, Monica Guiterrez, who flattered me immensely by dashing to her car and returning with several of my books to sign.

Pablo of Peetypots

As you might expect, there was a good selection of beautifully grown succulents, such as these intriguing aloes:

colorful aloes

Sadly, when I returned to buy it, this lovely Aloe nobilis ‘Variegata’ was gone:

Aloe nobilis 'Variegata'

The Desert Creations Nursery booth was among the busiest. Owners Kim and Artie Chavez graciously provided plants for my presentation, which included a discussion of colorful succulents for the landscape. Typical of members of the LACSS and its parent organization, the Cactus & Succulent Society of America, Kim and Artie are avid plant collectors eager to share their knowledge.
Desert Creations nursery

At her booth, Sandy Johnson of Hearts of Jade Succulent Garden Art and Gift Shop in Moorpark, CA, had these cute socks for sale:
succulent socks

During my presentation, I “Morticia pruned” the wiry flower stalks of this Haworthia limifolia x striata. The term, coined by me, means “to snip off healthy flowers.” (If you’re old enough, you may recall that Morticia Addams of the TV series “The Addams Family” routinely pruned healthy blooms off her rose bushes.)

morticia pruning

The weather was perfectly cool and cloudy, and the Festival had an excellent turnout both days. (Yay!)

Debra Lee Baldwin presentation

For the potting demo part of my presentation, I made this arrangement consisting of Aloe ‘Pink’, Echeveria purpusorum and pachyverias in a pink hypertufa pot:

Succulent arrangement

Arguably the best part of the event were the Kids Day activities—games, crafts and educational displays all having to do with succulents. Goofing off in the Kid’s Day area, below, are Kathleen Misko, my point person for the Festival, and Kyle Short, my ever-debonair Jack-of-all-trades:

Kathleen Misko, Kyle Short

Kyle sure knows how to create an attention-grabbing Instagram photo:

Cactus couch

Having a special area set aside to entertain, engage and enlighten children about succulents is probably unprecedented in the realm of gardening events. Regardless, Kids Day merits its own article—coming up soon—and video. I’ll also be releasing a YouTube video of my presentation. Check back for links!

Below: Kathleen Misko discusses final preparations for Kids Day with Artie Chavez, upper right. In the foreground are gift bags that children received when they arrived.

Succulents for kids

Below, Kathleen’s granddaughter Veronica scoops potting soil. Later, this potting station was thronged with children who selected small succulents and potted them with the help of LACSS members and volunteers. “They bring their pots back to show us how well the plants are doing, the following year,” Kathleen proudly told me.

Succulents for kids

To be continued…

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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San Francisco Flower and Garden Show: Sublimation

An innovative display garden won multiple awards at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. Landscape design students Eric Arneson and Nahal Sohbati of the Academy of Art used the concept of sublimation (water going straight from solid to gas) as a metaphor for the California drought, i.e. “missing water.” Clever design ideas include weatherproof walls of wire cubes (gabions); rounded stones stacked below smaller ones hanging like bubbles from wire; a bench made of vertical 4x4s repeating the squares in the design; succulents planted vertically still in their nursery pots; and succulents combined with drought-tolerant ornamental grasses for appealing texture.

 
 


Debra Lee Baldwin, Garden Photojournalist, Author and Succulent Expert

Debra Lee Baldwin, Garden Photojournalist, Author and Succulent Expert

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