1. Hans Brough on February 4, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    “resiniferatoxin” ?! I just planted one of these last year in front of our house. Luckily my kids are older and will actually love the fact that something growing in their yard is “4.5 million times hotter than a jalapeno”. Great article.

    • debraleebaldwi on February 4, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      Yep. It’s an unassuming succulent that should be sold with a warning label!

  2. Linda G. on February 6, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Great article! It reminds me of another public place that put a cat’s claw acacia near a sidewalk and a house flippers in my neighborhood who put a big scratchy agave next to the walkway from the driveway to the house.

    • debraleebaldwi on February 6, 2019 at 1:09 pm

      Yes, lots of that sort of thing going on. And in my own neighborhood (which is where most of the photos in my “What you need to know about Agave americana” video were taken). https://youtu.be/KBs-Hqbq48U

  3. Bivian Marr on February 6, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Hi Debra, Loved your commentary. You are terrific and you do know your…..stuff. You would think they used a landscape architect, or not. A husband and wife I know, both educated as landscape architects, left the field for lack of jobs. Hope someone in power sees your video. Keep up the good fight!

    • debraleebaldwi on February 6, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      Thank you, Bivian! I stuck my neck out on this one, so a positive comment coming from you (president of the Laguna Woods garden club) is much appreciated. They hired a renowned landscape architectural firm from out of the area. Perhaps the firm was new to the installation and cultivation of these particular plants. What a huge difference that makes!

  4. James Maeding on February 6, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Hi Debra,
    I agree with your critique. I think people forget about practicality of cactus spines and succulent sap.
    Its one of those things where you would think the garden designers would of course consult a well known local, but they just did what they wanted.
    Your email is perfect because others out there will make note of this. If no one ever says anything because they don’t want to shake up the system, we just get more of the same.

    • debraleebaldwi on February 6, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      Thanks, James. No doubt a local design firm would have known better. Newport Beach has THE ideal climate for succulents! You can practically throw cuttings over your shoulder and they’ll grow. Such potential. I hope this doesn’t discourage the city from revamping the garden as time and funds permit. Its design mishaps are not the fault of the plants.

  5. AlexS on February 6, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Debra, you are so right. Can I share what what my husband calls the whole complex? Taj-ma-City-Hall. The Agave are just the start. You haven’t mentioned the huge lawn next to the parking lot! When all the Residents down the street are prohibited from watering, this huge lawn, many times when it’s been raining, has it’s sprinklers going.
    Thanks for taking the time for pointing these things out, as citizens, they don’t listen to us.

    • debraleebaldwi on February 6, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      I did wonder about that immense lawn, but I saw photos online of gatherings that filled it, so I figured it has a purpose. For outdoor events, sometimes only a lawn will do. But to water it when it’s raining…?!

  6. Anne Jones on February 6, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    Dear Debra,

    I really appreciate your critique of this garden. I’m a landscape architect and one of the biggest problems I’ve noticed in the landscape design field is the use and specifications of plant material that is either poisonous or sharp in areas where people are likely to come in contact with these plants.

    The planting of Agave americana and some of our other large agaves next to paths or in narrow parkways is a passive aggressive act at the very least. Euphorbia such as ’Sticks on Fire’ and the green version are not only poisonous but the plants become large size trees when they mature.

    Please keep up the good work. You have a great forum for educating the public and the knowledge to get the message out.


    Anne Jones – RLA CA 5999
    Viriditas Design
    Landscape Architecture

    • debraleebaldwi on February 6, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you, Anne. Good point. As beautiful as it is, Euphorbia tirucalli, both the species and ‘Sticks on Fire’, have milky sap that can send the unwary to the hospital. Come to think of it, when those colonies of Euphorbia resinifera eventually have to be cut back from the pathway (they grow glacially), I sure hope the maintenance crew takes precautions. Yikes.

  7. Tina Cremer on February 14, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Debra, thank you. The critiques are invaluable especially with suggestions of alternatives. I see those mistakes over and over again. When driving by, I have to stop myself from stopping and telling the home owner to remove or move the problematic plants. I loved your description of the burn power of Euphorbias. I think they should come with a warning statement.

    One of my favorite succulent gardens is near the Orange Coast College Horticulture Dept. where Joe Stead is employed. The dry stream bed is fantastic. That horticulture dept. deserves some publicity.

    • debraleebaldwi on February 14, 2019 at 10:57 am

      Thank YOU, Tina. Euphorbias can be used beautifully, but like any plant they have drawbacks. I’m aware of Joe’s garden at the college. It’s worthy of being a destination garden in its own right. I love how he grouped succulents from different regions. It’s beautiful AND educational!

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