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…

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