Hannah Eubanks succulent reef garden (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Hannah’s Stunning Succulent Reef

In my new video, Hannah Eubanks, 24, shows us a stunning succulent reef garden she created for client Susan Morse in Vista, CA.

When I arrived the morning of the project's third day, it was nearly completed. Hannah was supervising two crew members who, like her, work for her mom's business, Design for Serenity. Only topdressing was left to add.

Hannah, the youngest daughter of celebrity landscaper Laura Eubanks, had expedited the project start-to-finish. "My mom was totally hand's-off," she says proudly.

Euphorbia trigona 'Rubra' (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

For several years, Hannah has been her mother's "right hand" during succulent garden installations throughout Southern California. Laura's YouTube channel has 100K+ subscribers, over 23 million views, and nearly 1,000 videos---many filmed by Hannah or that show her as part of the DFS team.

Naturally we're all wondering if the lovely, hard-working Hannah will launch out on her own, and if so, how Laura will manage without her. "I think about that a lot," Hannah admits.

Step by Step:

  • To accessorize the garden, Susan provided items that are meaningful to her. These, and the fact that the area is a former koi pond, inspired the undersea theme.
  • Hannah conceptualized a three-dimensional snorkeler's paradise, keeping sight lines and vantage points in mind.
  • She estimated and ordered soil and rock, from boulders to fine-textured criva.
  • Shopped for succulents small and large at Waterwise Botanicals and Oasis nurseries. (Many came from the homeowner's garden, too.) Also see "Online" list below.
  • Planned and supervised grading and irrigation.
  • Created mounds and valleys that immerse viewers in a snorkel-worthy reef.

"It's magic," Susan says of the result. "It exceeded my expectations."

Laura, who came by that afternoon to film a "grand reveal" video of the garden, says she's "gobsmacked" by how well it turned out. I agree. For a debut succulent garden---any garden for that matter---what Hannah accomplished is remarkable.

Key components

Rock, several sizes

Hannah chose 3/8 inch and larger, black and red lava rock---something you might see when skin diving near volcanic islands. From a design standpoint, lava's better than smooth rocks typical of freshwater streams. It also has great texture due to bubbles formed when the rock was molten and foamy.

Succulent reef garden by Hannah Eubanks, plants ID'd (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Elevations and Valleys

Hannah mounded soil and stacked rocks to elevate planted vignettes, and dug below soil level for visual drama. Such trenches serve as pathways, too, so Susan can stroll through the garden.

Surrounding planted mounds and lining valleys are swaths of white and black criva that suggest coarse sea sand. The topdressing is chamois beige crushed stone; it's tan and cream with flecks of pink.

Succulent reef garden by Hannah Eubanks, plants ID'd (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Fantasy and whimsy

Hannah selected and positioned lava boulders so their pockets and caves suggest homes for sea creatures such as eels and urchins.

My own imagination kicked in when I saw an orange Talavera fish peeking out from beneath the bridge. Suddenly I was a Garibaldi flitting among crevices and exploring a broken pot--an amphora from a shipwreck?

Succulent reef garden by Hannah Eubanks, plants ID'd (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Find items online (affiliate links)

Contrast

This important design principle adds interest to any composition. Soft with hard, light and dark, and smooth against textured are subtly evident in the positioning of rocks, succulents and accessories.

Restraint

Hannah selected only a few of Susan's Baja treasures, to avoid cluttering the space. Those she chose serve as delightful discoveries, resulting in a simple, serene yet inviting scene.

Succulent reef garden by Hannah Eubanks, plants ID'd (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Undersea flora

I didn't think cacti would work, being desert plants. Yet a small barrel cactus suggests a sea urchin, and a dramatic crested myrtillocactus looks like a coral formation.

You also don’t expect flowering plants under the sea, but Hannah made them work with Euphorbia millii. Its blooms suggest pink coral and its leaves, seaweed.

Succulent reef garden by Hannah Eubanks, plants ID'd (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Other significant succulents include a prickly-trunked Pachypodium lamerii, an upright multi-branching Euphorbia trigona ‘Rubra’, tubular-leaved ‘Gollum’ jade, and starfish-like dwarf aloes.

Debra Lee Baldwin and Hannah Eubanks (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Did you enjoy Hannah's debut garden? Tell us in the comments below! 

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3 Comments

  1. Rachael on August 31, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    She’s so stinkin’ cute! Beautiful work and inspiring too… well done!!👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  2. Bea Q on August 31, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    I’ve been a huge fan of Laura and family for many years and never miss a video or succulent tip of the day. Wow! Hanna! Fantastic job!

  3. Emma Fournier on September 12, 2022 at 6:48 pm

    I would love to take Laura’s masterclass! I’m a 24yr old horticulturist and a huge fan. I started my own succulent design business in Maine. Would love to know if she is still planning on teaching the class!

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