Designing with Succulents

Designing with Succulents

by Debra Lee Baldwin

Hardcover(Second Edition, Revised)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604697087
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/23/2017
Edition description: Second Edition, Revised
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 324,673
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Debra Lee Baldwin, an award-winning photojournalist, is widely hailed as the “Queen of Succulents.” She 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. Baldwin’s own half-acre garden has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset, San Diego Home and Garden, and other publications.

Read an Excerpt

Succulent describes any plant that survives drought by storing water in its leaves, stems, or roots. These plants were far from my mind when I began gardening in my early thirties. Because I wanted big, bold, beautiful flowers, I planted cannas and rose bushes, despite the fact that in southern California (USDA zone 9) rain falls minimally and mostly in February, the soil lacks nutrients, and inland temperatures range from 25 to 105°F. From spring through fall, such plants continually need mulching, fertilizing, pruning, spraying, irrigating, and deadheading.

As a garden photojournalist, I was influenced by editors, design professionals, colleagues, homeowners, and horticulturists who believed that gardening is an endeavor that ought to suit the region. It was my job to communicate via words and photos why certain residential outdoor environments were innovative and appealing—not only visually but also practically. As I strove to entertain and enlighten the gardening public, I became inspired myself.

One midwinter, when my garden consisted of pruned and naked rose bushes, cannas with frost-burned leaves, and perennials that had been cut to the ground, I visited the garden of horticulturist Patrick Anderson midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. Despite its poor soil and lack of irrigation, his garden was lush and colorful. It was the first time I had seen large aloes in a garden setting. The ensuing article reflected my fascination: “Fleshy green monsters in Patrick Anderson’s Fallbrook garden look like they might snap him up if he turns his back,” it began. “They’re giant succulents, and Anderson’s half-acre hillside showcases hundreds of unusual ones.” I described aloes that “pierce the sky like exotic torchbearers, hot orange against cool blue,” and agaves that “sprawl like squids, or explode upward like fistfuls of knives.”

I noticed how two or three varieties of succulents selected for shape, color, and texture create elegant and eye-catching vignettes. Succulents with curved or undulating leaves suggest motion, which makes any garden more interesting. Moreover, like seashells and snowflakes, succulent foliage forms patterns that illustrate nature’s innate geometry and that are mesmerizing when repeated. I soon learned firsthand that in a warm, dry climate, succulents and similarly low-water perennials make sense economically, aesthetically, and ecologically.

Aeonium arboreum and A. haworthii, Agave americana ‘Marginata’, and Bulbine frutescens proved trouble-free—as did the aloes, sedums, senecios, kalanchoes, and graptopetalums that followed. I found succulents easy to propagate and appealing wherever I put them. I began hunting gardens that showcased succulents and over the years have discovered them throughout the West and as far away as Hawaii, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New England. This book, the result, offers numerous alternatives to traditional lawn-and-flowerbed landscapes, shows what’s possible when succulents shine as primary garden elements, and explains how to cultivate these versatile plants in the ground and in containers.

It’s an exciting time to be a succulent aficionado; numerous ornamental hybrids have recently been released or are in production. In years to come, watch for named cultivars with greater heat and cold tolerance, longer bloom cycles, multicolored flowers, disease resistance, and leaves that are vividly hued, variegated, or textured.

Succulent gardens far and wide
Succulents range from tall trees to ground covers with rice-size leaves. Among their native habitats are South American jungles, California’s coastal cliffs, high-elevation mountains in Africa, and arid Arizona plains. In cultivation, they look good alongside meandering pathways, in formal settings with geometric lines, in rock gardens, and in pots on patios, balconies, and rooftops—to name a few of many possible settings.

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 can 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, especially in 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.

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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!
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