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Succulent-Topped Pumpkin Design Ideas

This gallery of succulent-topped pumpkin design ideas are mostly by Laura Eubanks of Design for Serenity, who pioneered the concept in 2011. It caught on immediately, becoming as popular for fall decor as wreaths are for the holidays. After several years of making pumpkins for sale, Laura now devotes her time to designing in-ground gardens.

Laura Eubanks during a photo shoot for Country Gardens magazine

Pumpkin How-To

Succulent-topped pumpkins by Laura exhibit her pioneering moss-and-glue method, which I describe in detail in my book, Succulents Simplified. Laura and I also made a video that shows how she does it.

Basically, she coats the top of the pumpkin with spray glue, adds moss, then hot-glues succulent cuttings and seed pods to the moss. Incredibly, the hot glue doesn’t harm the succulents, which root through the dried glue into the moss. The arrangement lasts for months—until early spring usually, at which time the pumpkin finally collapses and the plants can go into the garden. The pumpkin will rot much sooner if pierced or cut, so avoid doing that.

Use these examples to inspire your own creativity and designs. Have fun!

 

This may be my favorite, despite not including succulents!

Additional ideas by various designers:

I’ll post more pumpkin photos as I run across interesting, eye-catching and innovative ones, so be sure to check back. — Debra

Related info on this site:

Books by Debra Lee Baldwin

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Agaves Handle Summer Heat

Late summer is when tough succulents really shine. Large agaves handle summer heat, and are unfazed by harsh sun, high temps and lack of rain. Their statuesque, fountainlike forms lend a sculptural element to any landscape, and contrast beautifully with fine-textured ornamentals. They also make good firebreak plants and security fences.

With the exception of a few soft-leaved and variegated varieties, agaves want sun—the more the better in all but desert climates. Most are hardy to the mid- to high-20s F, and some go a lot lower.

Sharp points at leaf tips and along leaf edges can make agaves treacherous. I snip about a quarter inch from leaves’ needlelike tips with garden shears.

Agave attenuata, blue form

Agaves smaller than basketballs make excellent potted plants. Small agaves—there are many exquisite ones—look good displayed one to a pot.

Agave Victoria-reginae

Agaves with serpentine terminal spines and prominent teeth along leaf margins are both graceful and fierce. Don’t they remind you of how cats yawn and show their fangs?

Agave fangs

Scalloped patterns on an agave’s leaves (“bud imprints”) are caused by spines and teeth pressing into the flesh of inner leaves before they unfurl. Aren’t they fascinating?

Agave 'Baccarat'

When pruning a damaged leaf, keep in mind that a straight-across cut at its midsection may spoil an agave’s symmetry. It’s best to make two cuts that trim the leaf to a “V” that resembles the leaf’s natural tip. Or cut it all the way to the trunk.

One of the most common agaves, A. attenuata (foxtail agave) has soft, smooth, nonspiny leaves that are prone to sun scorch in summer and frost burn in winter. Damaged tips will collapse and turn white. If this has happened to yours, watch my short video on how to trim them.

How to prune a frost-damaged agave

Large agaves that pup (not all do) can be thugs. They’ll grow and spread rapidly, especially when given good soil and regular irrigation. One of the most widely grown is A. americana (century plant), because it offsets so prolifically (free plants!) and needs no care at all…until those pups start to get big and form an unruly, ever-expanding colony.

Agave americana with pups

Because it seems that everyone is blithely planting Agave americana these days, agave expert Kelly Griffin and I made a video that gives better choices for the long run: Six Great Agaves for Your Garden. It’s the sequel to What You MUST Know About Century Plants (Agave americana).

Being indigenous to the New World (the American Southwest, Mexico and Central America), larger agaves store enough moisture to get by on rainfall alone and will thrive in nutrient-poor soils. Although agaves like water, their roots—like those of most succulents—will rot in waterlogged soil.

All but a few agaves are monocarpic, meaning they bloom once and then die. This may take as many as 25 years, but it will happen. As it completes its life cycle, a mature rosette that has graced a garden for years sends up an asparagus-like flower stalk (most, but not all, branch). This dwarfs the plant and saps its energy. Flowers along the stalk eventually turn into miniplants (bulbils) or seed capsules.

All about agaves

Only the individual agave that flowers dies. In some cases—notably with those involving Agave americana—a litter of pups will carry on.

Agave americana post-bloom with pups

The above is edited from the intro to Agaves in “Succulents A to Z” in Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.). The book, which also covers Aloes among 30 important genera of succulents, includes photos and descriptions of significant varieties, and shows how to grow and use them beautifully in gardens and landscapes.

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Megan Boone’s Vintage Succulent Containers

IMG_3996_annotated_resizedMegan Boone of Nature Containers Vintage Garden Art designs in three dimensions, using cast-off objects to showcase succulents and vice-versa. As exemplified by the pick above, Megan brings elegance and whimsy to her artistry by reinterpreting the forms and lines of utilitarian objects. I love how the aloe perfectly repeats the shape and color of the rusty metal, and also emphasizes its arc.

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The Temecula, CA, artist has teamed up with nearby Water Wise Yard Design & Decor to enhance their outdoor showroom with one-of-a-kind container gardens.  Those shown here are just a sample; Megan’s continually coming up with something new made from something old.

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Megan told me that her choice of stacked crassulas (Crassula perforata, above) coincidentally echoed the wire basket handle. Perhaps, but talented designers often do things subliminally.

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Hm. What ARE these containers? They look familiar but I can’t quite place them.

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Doesn’t the wheel below suggest a succulent wreath? Note the texture of the metal and how Megan left some of it unplanted to show the criss-cross pattern.

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I’m not normally a fan of shoes planted with succulents, but the boot below spoke to me. The lines, proportions and colors really work.

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Love this planted teakettle, too. The crassulas suggest steam; the senecio, flowing water.

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Wouldn’t the wood palettes below and the planted window frame make great vertical accents for a garden or patio? They could also serve as privacy screens.IMG_3915annotated_resized

 

I couldn’t resist showing you Leroy, Megan’s bloodhound. The velvet-eared puppy hangs out with her at work, regarding her with soulful eyes. Clearly Leroy knows that his coppery coat contrasts beautifully with Senecio mandraliscae. Perhaps he’s her muse.

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Related info on this site:

Make a Succulent Dish Garden for Indoors. Design by Megan Boone for Jeanne Meadow.
Tips from a Top Container Garden Designer (Melissa Teisl’s designs)

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Succulent Color Wheel Rainbow Centerpiece

Succulent Color Wheel rainbow centerpiece from my online class, as seen in Garden Design magazine and my book, Succulents Simplified

I’m proud and pleased to announce that Garden Design, the premier magazine about the aesthetics of gardening, features my “Stunning Succulent Arrangements” online class and includes a photo of one of its seven projects—the Succulent Color Wheel rainbow centerpiece.

For the rainbow centerpiece, you’ll need a large pot saucer and about six plants in 4-inch pots for each pie-shaped section. Succulents come in all colors, so have fun selecting them at your local garden center. Or if ordering them online, here are some suggestions:

Green: sempervivums, aeoniums, Crassula lycopodioes (watch chain)
Blue: echeverias, Senecio repens, Sedeveria ‘Blue Elf’, Pachyveria ‘Glauca’, Kalanchoe tomentosa
Purple: Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’, Echeveria ‘Neon Breakers’
Red: Sedum rubrotinctum, Peperomia graveolens
Orange: Sedum ‘Firestorm’, Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’, Euphorbia tirucalli‘Sticks on Fire’
YellowSedum adolphii, Crassula ovata ‘Sunset’

Method: Remove plants from their nursery pots and pack them tightly in a wide, shallow pot saucer so no soil shows. Place taller plants in the center, shorter around the rim, and arrange according to color. Water sparingly and give your Succulent Color Wheel plenty of bright light so hues stay vibrant.

The red-orange-yellow side of the succulent color wheel. 

Find many more types of succulents listed by color in my books. 

Related Info on This Site: Buy and Shop for Succulents Online. 

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What Reviewers Are Saying About “Designing with Succulents”

Reviews of Debra Lee Baldwin’s book “Designing with Succulents”, the completely revised and updated second edition. 

Book reviewers are important. It’s not the author or a publicist telling you how good a book is, it’s editors, radio show hosts, columnists, industry pros and peers whose opinions are impartial and credible. Consequently, I’m very pleased and proud to share with you reviews by…

Excerpt: “With more than 400 engaging, colorful photographs, this is a book for the seasoned succulent aficionado or the wannabe windowsill gardener.”
Mary Ann Newcomer for Country Gardens magazine, a Better Homes & Gardens publication


 

Excerpt: “Inspiring photos of world-class gardens are scattered throughout, but designers will especially appreciate the featured gardens that are profiled at the beginning of each chapter.”
— 
Susan Morrison, author of The Less is More Garden: Big Ideas for Designing Your Small Yard (Timber Press, Feb., 2018), for The Designer


Excerpt: “Has everything to keep the succulent lover entertained and plenty of knowledge to help a new gardener become an expert.” — Rachel Eroh, Phoenix Home and Garden magazine


Above: from Garden Design magazine’s weekly e-newsletter.

Also: “If you liked Debra Lee Baldwin’s first edition of this book published 10 years ago, then you will definitely have to have a copy of this complete re-write, which includes several featured succulent gardens from designers and dedicated homeowners. . . . a book every succulent lover needs.” —Garden Design Magazine

“A masterly book about the creative use of succulents in modern landscapes.” —John Bagnasco, host of Garden America radio show and co-author of two books about succulents.

“Takes the mystery out of these fascinating plants. The book is well illustrated, full of good information, and eminently readable.” —Brian Kemble, curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden; board member of Cactus and Succulent Society of America

“Another classic with amazing photos. From images that show you what can be done, to explanations that help you do it, this is a must-have for succulent gardeners.” —Ken Altman, president of Altman Plants

“Many people know about succulents, but using them in the landscape is another matter. Designing with Succulents shows us how; it’s inspiring, practical, and complete—a treasure for any gardener who loves these otherworldly beauties.” —Kathleen N. Brenzel, Sunset magazine

“Home gardeners as well as those looking for a ‘Zen’ book-cation of browsing gorgeous plant photographs should read (and purchase!) Designing with Succulents. Readers will be inspired by both plants and design, and take away principles and projects to incorporate more beauty into their surroundings and everyday lives.” —Esther Jackson, librarian and columnist, New York Botanical Garden’s Plant Talk

“Thanks to Baldwin’s expertise on succulents from propagation to design, beautiful photographs, and personable writing style, [Designing with Succulents] retains its well-deserved status as the bible for succulent gardeners.” —Pam Penick, Digging 

“Gardeners new to these plants will find both useful information and inspiration in this book. Experienced growers of succulents also will discover motivation to explore possibilities for refining their gardens and containers, and enjoying gardening with succulents.” —Tom Karwin, The Santa Cruz Sentinel 

“The second edition of Designing with Succulents is an instant classic. It’s a must-have for any succulent lover, even if you already own the first edition…my most anticipated book of the year.” — Gerhard Bock, Succulents and More

Succulent bouquet with echeverias
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Make a Bouquet of Succulents

When I need a hostess gift, thank-you present, or an arrangement for a special friend, I make a bouquet of succulents.

 

Create a bouquet of succulent cuttings

I start by selecting a coffee mug or glass container (usually a jar, thrift-store vase, or clear bottle), the size of which determines the size of the arrangement. Then I head into the garden with clippers. I cut a dozen or so succulent rosettes, and in 2 or 3 minutes per cutting, they’re wired onto stems and ready to be arranged. Of course if the cuttings have long stems, you needn’t wire them onto faux ones. But most succulent rosettes have short stems or none at all.

Echeverias, graptosedums, crassulas and kalanchoes lend themselves beautifully to bouquets because of their colorful leaves and rosette shapes. They’re easy to attach to faux stems, need no water (because they live off moisture in their leaves), look good for a long time, and can later be planted as cuttings.

Create a bouquet of succulent cuttings

Make a bouquet of succulent cuttings, materials: 

— Garden clippers, wire cutters, and scissors.

— A vase, mug, jar or some other holder. Height and size don’t matter, but keep in mind that your bouquet should be at least half as tall as its container, and the taller the arrangement, the more succulents you’ll need.

Assorted colorful succulent cuttings. In order for stems not to split when you wire them, they should be about the diameter of a chopstick but no thicker than your little finger (because thick tissue is tough to push a wire through).

— 22-gauge florist’s wire. I buy it in prepackaged, 18-inch lengths from a craft store. You’ll need one length of wire for each rosette.

— A roll of green florist’s tape. This helps hold the wire in place and hides it, creating what looks like a real stem. (Wondering if you can simply use long-stemmed succulents? Yes, if you have them. You can certainly use the flowers of succulents, too!)

— Bamboo skewers (sold at any supermarket) or floral picks. These are useful for strengthening and stabilizing the faux stem and holding the cutting upright. They’re inflexible, so plan to cut some of the faux stems shorter to make a balanced arrangement. I usually wire a few lightweight cuttings without sticks to have some to bend outward.

— Ballast to anchor stems. Their high moisture content makes succulent cuttings top-heavy when wired, so stems need to be held in place with sand, pea gravel, a floral frog or foam, crushed glass or—in a pinch—dried peas or beans (careful not to get them wet).

Make a bouquet of succulent cuttings, step by step:

  1. Cut wire in half and thread each 9-inch-long piece into the stem just below the lowest leaf. Wires should be at right angles to each other, so when you look down on the succulent, it’ll look like a plus sign with a plant in the middle.
  2. Place a floral pick or bamboo skewer alongside the stem or, if it’s wide enough, up through the middle.
  3. Fold wires downward so they encase the stem stub and skewer. All four wires should touch each other.
  4. Tear or cut off 8 or so inches of floral tape. Use your thumb to hold the top of the tape against the base of the succulent. With your other hand, gently stretch the tape. Twirl the rosette and stretch the tape as you wrap the stem. (It may take a few tries, but it’s not difficult.)
  5. Use wire cutters to cut the stem to whatever length you want it to be.
  6. Add ballast to the container and insert the wired rosettes into it (with dried floral material if you like) until you have a pleasing bouquet.

Related info on this site:

Use Colored Sand for Succulent Bouquets  I like to display bouquets of succulent rosettes in clear glass containers filled with layers of sand. Practical as well as pretty, the sand lends color and interest, and serves as to anchor the stems so top-heavy rosettes don’t tumble out. Succulent sand bouquets make [Continue reading]

12 Succulent Bouquets to Inspire You When wired onto faux stems, succulent rosettes—despite having no roots, soil or water—make long-lasting floral bouquets. [Continue reading] 

Succulent bouquet made by Debra Lee Baldwin for Craftsy

This bouquet is from my online Craftsy Class.

How to Make a Succulent Bouquet is one of seven sessions of my online Craftsy class, Stunning Succulent Arrangements. Use this link to take the class (all seven lessons) at 50% of the regular enrollment price—$20 instead of $40!

 

Succulent wreath
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Make “Stunning Succulent Arrangements” in My Online Craftsy Class

Succulent wreath, Craftsy class

I’m so pleased with designs created by students in my online class, Stunning Succulent Arrangements!

During the 7-lesson class, I explain succulent varieties, care and propagation; and show how to make wreaths, terrariums, floral-style arrangements, a succulent color wheel and more.

Craftsy’s student-oriented approach allows you to take the class anywhere and anytime; pause, rewind and restart at your convenience; view my answers to questions and ask your own; and share projects you’ve made. Access never expires.

Want to join my Craftsy community? Enroll now for half price—$20. 

Craftsy filming in Debra's garden

To film the class, Craftsy—the leading purveyor of online how-to instruction—sent a 3-person crew from their headquarters in Denver to my home near San Diego. They brought enough high-tech equipment to fill a spare bedroom. We spent three intense days filming.

A few more fabulous projects by my students:
Student project, succulent design class

Succulent mini landscape, Craftsy Succulent bridal bouquet, Craftsy

Student succulent wreath, Craftsy

A couple of the Q&A’s:

Craftsy class Q&A2

Craftsy class Q&A
I’m eager to see what YOU come up with! ~ Debra

Debra Lee Baldwin in her succulent garden
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Debra’s Own Garden

My goal with my own garden is to create a three-dimensional art form that serves as a backdrop for videos, photo shoots and casual get-togethers. Whether in books, photos, videos or presentations—or with plants, rocks, and sweat—I’m invariably about entertaining and sharing in equal measure. It’s one way I define joy.

Debra Lee Baldwin in her succulent garden

Yours truly in the lower garden with “Big Blue.” Photo by Craftsy.


Debra's Garden

My steep, terraced half-acre garden as viewed from my house. 

Succulent rock garden

IMHO, a garden can never have too many rocks. This sloping bed is home to dwarf aloes and haworthias growing in a pumice-rich mix. 

Succulent lily pond by Debra Lee Baldwin
My dry pond has thin, nearly spineless cactus pads I ordered from Florida (!). The “water lilies” are graptoveria rosettes. 


Succulent tapestry garden

One of two succulent tapestries by designer Laura Eubanks.

Related articles:

My succulent meditation garden

Spring in my succulent garden

Succulent garden design essentials

How to grow succulents

I’ve filmed numerous YouTube videos in my garden. The most popular shows how to replant an overgrown bed:Debra shows how to trim and replant succulents

If you REALLY want to come see my garden, I do occasionally give private tours for visiting VIPs. Email me. 

My garden is also featured in my book, Designing with Succulents (2nd ed.).

 

 


 

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Katie’s Succulent Wreath Class

On a December Saturday that couldn’t have been more perfect weather-wise, a couple dozen ladies assembled at Buena Creek Gardens nursery north of San Diego to make succulent wreaths. Katie Christensen, a talented young designer from the Seattle area conducted the class. I had fun helping her, seeing old friends and making new ones, and recording the occasion with my camera.

For more about wreath-making, see my other blog posts: Make a Succulent Wreath and Succulent Wreath Tips and Ideas; go to my books Succulent Container Gardens pp. 176-178 and Designing with Succulents (1st ed.) pp. 113-117; sign up for my Craftsy class (get 50% off); and watch my YouTube video, Design and Plant a Succulent Wreath.

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For more wreath-making tips and ideas, view my other blog posts: Make a Succulent Wreath and Succulent Wreath Tips and Ideas; see my books Succulent Container Gardens pp. 176-178 and Designing with Succulents pp. 113-117; sign up for my Craftsy class (get 50% off); and watch my YouTube video, Design and Plant a Succulent Wreath.