Debra Lee Baldwin garden

Come see "Debra's Garden" at peak! Enjoy a personal tour via my new 15-min. video: See My Idea-Filled Succulent Spring Garden.

The video came as a result of my half-acre garden looking gorgeous after April rains. I kept taking photos. Then videos. Then I recalled some of you had asked for a tour of my garden. Before I knew it, I was tracking down "before" photos to show you how things had grown and evolved over the years.

The garden saw me grow, too. I started out loving flowers (still do) then moved on to appreciating longer-lasting aspects of plants, such as form and foliage.

Agave vilmoriniana

Octopus agaves, rosea ice plant and yuccas tough it out on the garden's steep, sunbaked, streetside bank.

The garden in the video surprises me. Sometimes you're around something so long you no longer see it. To change your perspective, view your garden through a camera lens, picture frame or hand mirror. Things that need improving may jump out at you, but you'll also gasp at the beauty you see afresh.

I narrate the tour with garden-lovers in mind, and succulent aficionados in particular. Some info is region-specific, but many of the tips apply anywhere.

Of course, a garden is ever-changing. Today's leaves are tomorrow's mulch. But now, no matter what happens to my garden (neglect, wildfire, being sold with the house, or having even more money poured into it, LOL), it'll always be May Day, 2020.

Scroll down for photos and names of important plants. 

Succulent Garden video

Now on YouTube: A 15-min video of my own half-acre succulent garden

Here's the intro...

"Here in the dry, rocky foothills northeast of San Diego, it’s a constant challenge to maintain a green, weed-free, tidy yard. But those of us who see plants as fascinating and rewarding don’t just have yards, we have gardens. If you’re one of us, especially if you love succulents, this video is for you. 

"My own garden's challenges include frost that turns plants to mush, high heat that burns and desiccates them, and nutrient poor, decomposed granite-and-clay soil. The terrain is steep, so erosion and access are issues. But all those rocks make great terraces; compost and mulch are free for the asking; and I’m blessed to have help with heavy lifting, pruning, hauling and digging.
"During my career as a photojournalist and author, I’ve been privileged to interview knowledgeable plantsmen, garden designers and creative homeowners. I’ve applied a lot of what I’ve learned to my own garden. I grow the plants I write about. My garden is both sanctuary and laboratory..." 

debra's garden: important plants 

Don't see what you're looking for? Have a question? Leave a comment below or on the video's YouTube page, and I'll help if I can.

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Succulent Garden Design Essentials How to design and plant your succulent garden. To ensure your success and help you avoid mistakes, here are a dozen succulent garden design essentials to keep in mind. Many thanks to homeowner Nancy Dalton, whose award-winning succulent garden in San Diego is an example of smart landscaping for Southern California. …

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11 Comments

  1. Marion Pauw on April 30, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    Dear Debra!!!

    Your garden is so beautiful and has given me a lot of new inspiration for my own! This is my first year of gardening and I can’t wait to see it all grow.(and thank you for answering some questions in the past)

    Thank you so much for this nice video and I hope you will continue making many more.

    Greetings from South of Spain,

    Marion

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on April 30, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Marion — Wow, all the way from Spain! Thank you!! Yes, please stay in touch. I’d love to know how succulents do where you are.

  2. Alice Valentine on April 30, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    Hi Debra,

    Thank you for sharing this – I loved it! It was the next best thing to walking around your beautiful garden with you. I sent the link to a few of my avid gardener friends. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Alice in Menlo Park

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on April 30, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Alice — Thank you! The video’s better than being here. Right after I finished filming, we had a brutal heat wave. All those purple wisteria flowers? Gone. And the nasturtiums don’t look happy either. As my (former) gardener would say, “Asi es la vida.” Such is life.

  3. Tracy Perkins on May 1, 2020 at 9:10 am

    We are new to succulent gardening and live on the Monterey Peninsula where we get fog. One if our blue flame agaves seems to have rust. I haven’t seen you talk about it (probably not an issue in your climate). I’m looking for treatment recommendations. Would I use the same products as I would for rust on roses? Thanks!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 1, 2020 at 1:54 pm

      Hi Tracy — I wonder if it’s the same condition mine get. As they mature, ‘Blue Flame’ specimens get what looks like abrasion on the inner leaves. I usually remove large plants and let pups take over. The hybridizer is on a Facebook agave group…I’ll post a photo (taken of mine) and ask if there’s anything that can be done about it.

  4. Matthew Midgett on May 1, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    WHAT AN UTTERLY CHARMING VIDEO! Of course the garden is terrific… but it is your wonderful narration which really makes it! (So many great quotes, i.e. “I grow the plants I write about”, etc.) Not too academic; not too informal. Just right! You are a natural and most pleasing hostess. WHAT A TREAT to be able to ‘tour’ your beautiful garden — from my home in New Mexico! Made me happy and nostalgic at the same time. I do miss you!

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH! (And please do a container garden video.)

    Matt

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 1, 2020 at 3:49 pm

      What an utterly charming comment! Not to mention from an old friend (from my magazine days) who has impeccable taste. Thank you, dear Matt, and huge virtual hug! Miss you too!

  5. Jeff Hopkins on May 1, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Your newsletters are one of the highlights of my day when you send them.

    I wanted to let you know that you and your books inspired me to swap out my yard from standard plants to succulents and agaves. Thanks so much for all that you do. Since you’re showing us your yard, I sent you a few photos of mine here in northern California. Thanks again.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on May 2, 2020 at 9:41 am

      Thank you, Jeff! This means a lot to me. Your yard is lovely—there’s something distinctive and special about Northern CA succulent gardens. Yours reminds me of the one I featured in Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.), south of Santa Cruz.

  6. Janie Klein on May 2, 2020 at 11:10 am

    Dear Debra,

    Thank you for sharing your garden with us. It is absolutely beautiful! I love all the curved paths and natural rock walls.

    My husband and I have a much smaller piece of land then you do, but we have also planted every hillside we have. What you have done is so inspiring. It gives me great ideas!

    I have attached two photos that I thought you might enjoy. We had a purple aeonium that got so big last year after the rains, it was at least two feet across and more than 2 feet tall. The second photo is one of my favorites. It’s a face pot in the middle of our succulent garden #2.

    Thank you again for sharing your beautiful gardens. I always look forward to seeing your emails.

    Sincerely,
    Janie Klein

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