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Designing with Succulents
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Designing with Succulents

4.8 7
by Debra Lee Baldwin

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Designing with Succulents is inspiring, practical, and complete—a treasure for any gardener who loves these otherworldly beauties.”—Kathleen N. Brenzel, Sunset

Succulents offer dazzling possibilities, requiring only minimal maintenance and very little water to remain lush and alluring year-round. And no one


Designing with Succulents is inspiring, practical, and complete—a treasure for any gardener who loves these otherworldly beauties.”—Kathleen N. Brenzel, Sunset

Succulents offer dazzling possibilities, requiring only minimal maintenance and very little water to remain lush and alluring year-round. And no one knows them better than the Queen of Succulents, Debra Lee Baldwin. 

This new, completely revised second edition of her bestselling classic is a design compendium that is as practical as it is inspirational. Designing with Succulents shares design and cultivation basics; hundreds of succulent plant recommendations; and profiles of 50 easy-care, drought-tolerant companion plants. Featured gardens from designers and creative homeowners show the stunning potential of these otherworldly plants. 

Lavishly illustrated with nearly 400 photographs, you will find everything you need to visualize, create, and nurture a thriving, water-smart succulent garden.

Editorial Reviews


"Debra Lee Baldwin is passionate about succulents, grows them with panache in her own garden, and has tapped into a community of like-minded souls who are creating wonderful landscapes with them. She inspires us to look at succulents as living sculptures whose myriad shapes and colors create striking effects. Many people know about succulents, but using them well 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 otherwordly beauties."
Weekend Gardening

"One of the charms of her book is that it is so readable, while being a practical encyclopedia of all things succulent."
San Diego Union-Tribune
"One of the charms of her book is that it is so readable, while being a practical encyclopedia of all things succulent."
From the Publisher

“Those designing a new landscape and those hoping to add these botanical treasures into an existing garden will find Baldwin’s gorgeously illustrated, detail-rich guide a worthy purchase.” —Library Journal

“Baldwin’s alluring and stimulating guide offers a wealth of design ideas melded with informative cultural advice and opens gardeners’ eyes to a breathtaking variety of succulents for any situation. . . . Towering to tiny, the array of succulents presented is exciting and compelling.” —Booklist

“The advice given is wise and borne of the author’s firsthand experience, but is not too prescriptive and is full of great ideas with illustrations to match.” —Gardens Illustrated

“A solid overview for landscape architects working with succulents.” —Landscape Architecture

“Illustrates how novices and experts alike can create lush and vibrant gardens that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible.” —Western Interiors and Design

“We love Designing with Succulents. . . . as inspiring as it is practical, with color photos that show how to use these otherwordly beauties in borders, on slopes, between patio pavers, mixed with other perennials or grasses—even in undersea themed gardens.” —Sunset

“A delightful and inspiring journey through the world of succulents, which are presented as viable options for private and public landscapes, particularly in regions where water is a serious concern. . . . Throughout, the text is richly illustrated with photographs of succulents used effectively in gardens large and small, with or without other types of plants. This is an exciting new addition to anyone’s library.” —Pacific Horticulture
Weekend Gardening - Maureen Gilmer
"...easy to understand writing style is user friendly to the backyard gardener, yet the breadth of information is just as appealing to the expert. Baldwin should be commended for what might be the best succulent landscaping book written to date."

Product Details

Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
7.94(w) x 9.56(h) x 0.94(d)

Read an Excerpt

Diversity of Succulent Gardens
Gardens of succulents and plants with similar cultivation requirements fall into the category of xeriscape, which is the art of creating a water-efficient landscape. Xeros, from the Greek, means dry. What it does not mean is desert, nor is it a concept that is costly or difficult to implement. Moreover, not all xeriscapes look alike, as is evident by the diversity of the gardens shown in the photographs in this book. Succulents range from immense agaves to sedums with rice-sized leaves. They can grow alongside meandering pathways, in formal settings with geometric lines, on boulder-strewn hillsides, and in pots on patios and balconies.

A succulent garden is not the same as a cactus garden. While it is true that all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti. Unlike other succulents, cacti often have spines, actually modified leaves, that grow in clusters. Many prefer hot, dry growing conditions and do not fare well in soil that retains moisture or is rich in organic matter. Although gardens of this sort have appeal, this book’s primary emphasis is on more user-friendly gardens. These feature succulents that are soft-leaved as opposed to prickly and that combine well with herbaceous plants from Mediterranean climates. This is not to say that cacti and succulents cannot complement each other, both in design and cultivation; indeed, many landscapes featured in these pages combine the two. But rather than looking barren, these gardens are lush and abundant.

The more than 50 genera of succulents and cacti mentioned in this book are by no means all that exist or that are available, but rather those best suited to residential landscapes. It is a blessing of the 21st century—and one we take for granted—that we can include such plants in our gardens. Kalanchoes from Madagascar, for example, were unknown in the United States in 1950. And some of the showiest succulents, such as the fancy ruffled echeverias, are hybrids introduced during the final few decades of the 20th century.

Most—but not all—of the succulents included here come from areas of the world that are hot and dry and that receive minimal rainfall. These plants are best suited to USDA zones 9 and 10, although they will survive outdoors in zones 8 and 11 with adequate protection from frost, excessive heat, and moisture. This ideal climate is found sporadically in latitudes from 20 to 40 degrees, notably marine-influenced, nontropical areas of the U.S. South and Southwest, Mexico, Pakistan, northern India, eastern China, Taiwan, southern Japan, South America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Mediterranean. In other zones, especially during seasonal temperature extremes, succulents are best cultivated indoors.

Horticulturist and landscape designer Thomas Hobbs, who lives and gardens in Vancouver, British Columbia, brings his succulents inside every winter—a task he considers well worthwhile. In his book, The Jewel Box Garden (2004), Hobbs writes, “Succulents are to today’s hippest gardeners what Canna and Colocasia were five years ago. They are at the epicenter of a new botanical quake of creativity. Their ease of culture and fabulous variety of form allow anyone to create something fairly amazing their very first try.”

Meet the Author

Debra Lee Baldwin, an award-winning photojournalist, is widely hailed as the “Queen of Succulents.” Debra helped launched the gardening world’s interest in succulents with her first book, Designing with Succulents, and with her two other books Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplified. Debra’s own half-acre garden has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset, San Diego Home and Garden, and other publications.

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Designing with Succulents 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
NanaL More than 1 year ago
Debra's book is one of the most beautiful landscaping books I have ever seen. I snapped it up off the bookshelf as soon as I saw it! I had already been bitten by the cactus and succulent bug, but she gives such incredible ideas for plantings that I just got inspired all over again. There is just none better for photographs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most of the existing books on landscaping can be put into one of the three categories: a. Coffee table books with pretty photos. b. Encyclopedia of plants. c. Horticulture books. Only a few of the books on landscaping actually discuss design. 'Designing with Succulents' is so unique that it fits in all three categories and it is also a well-written design book. It has striking color photos, useful horticulture information, and it is an encyclopedia for succulents. This book also has detailed information on planning and design for gardens. Debra started with discussions on sun consideration, basic of garden design, front yard ideas, street side gardens, pathway plantings, slope and terraces and some useful and practical information on evaluating the soils, water and irrigation, and preparing and repairing. If you mention succulents, most people will think of them as sculptural plants with green-tone or gray-tone colors. Debra provided some fresh ideas and introduced succulents with vivid, colorful leaves and brilliant flowers into garden design. She also explored the issues of landscaping and fire safety, the design of green roof gardens, rock and boulder gardens, desert and cactus gardens, beach gardens, sea-themed succulent gardens, geometric plantings, as well as tapestry and labyrinth gardens with the use of succulents. 'Designing with Succulents' has a special chapter on pots, wreath and container gardens, including style and sizes, design principles and creative ideas for pots, wreath or topiary, and soils, sun and fertilizers, and water and drainage. I found this information to be very useful, especially for gardens with tight spaces and for remodel projects where planting areas are limited. This book also has information on growing succulents in colder climate, and plant care and propagation, and separate chapters for huge succulents, mid-sized succulents and small succulents. 'Designing with Succulents' has 256 pages and color interior photos. It is a must-have for both gardening novices and seasoned professionals.
plantdoc More than 1 year ago
For any gardener with a true interest in succulents this is a great book.
KTParker More than 1 year ago
I have completely changed my mind about the beauty of succulants after reading this book. I am smitten with them, if not obsessed. I can't understand why I didn't notice them before in this depth. I have purchased many of these books as gift trying to change others people minds about planting drought tolerant gardens and I plan on buying one of these books for everyone on my board on the Chino Basin Water Conservation District. Wonderful Job Debra!! THanks so much for putting the effort into making this book. I love it! Kati Parker, Board President of the Chino Basin Water Conservation District
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far the best gardening book on succulent plants available today. It is a landscaper's dream as most of the photographs show these beautiful sculptural plants in many different types of settings and unique combinations. You will want to start a succulent garden as soon as you see all the great photography and ideas for planting. Debra is uniquely talented in that she not only has a great knowledge of plants, she is also an artist and photographer. This book is a keeper!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago