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Visit my Garden!

My half-acre garden, located in north San Diego County, soon will be ready to receive special guests. I'll give you a tour tailored to your needs and interests, show you my favorite succulents, and explain everything from soil prepration and watering to ideal location and sun exposure. I'm also getting the garden ready for group events. For updates, subscribe to this seasonal newsletter and follow me on Facebook.

Succulent Destinations with Debra

Succulent destinations

Above left: Jessica of Pigment. Top center: Graptoveria 'Silver Star' at Oasis Water Efficent Gardens.
Upper right: Desert Theater nursery. Center: an agave in my garden.
Middle right: seen at The Succulent Cafe. Lower right: a garden by Linda Bresler.

Is it any wonder I love sharing my city with visiting succulent enthusiasts? San Diego has more specialty nurseries and a wider variety of perfectly grown nursery plants than anywhere in the world; beautiful, innovative succulent gardens; and talented designers who use the plants like a living palette.

I'm available, as my schedule allows, as a personal succulent guide and design mentor. As such, I give private potting workshops, escort guests to gardens and growers, and introduce them to cool people and plants. I charge
$150/hour for my time, minimum three hours, maximum two persons. Makes a great gift for a parent, spouse, friend or client. (Not included: cost of plants, pots and workshop materials. Guests are responsible for air fare and bookings, transportation to and from our agreed-upon rendezvous, hotel accommodations, meals and incidentals.) Contact me.

My Latest YouTube Videos

Agave bovicornuta, variegated

Kelly Griffin's Own Succulent Garden, Part One: Variegated Agaves (4:33)
Plant hybridizer Kelly Griffin, renowned among succulent collectors for his aloe and agave cultivars, shows the variegated agaves in his own garden. Among them are 'Snow Glow', 'Sun Glow', several different variegates of 'Blue Flame', Agave parrasana 'Fireball', a vivid yellow-and-green Agave bovicornuta (above), and an impressive Agave impressa. You'll enjoy Kelly's proud-parent attitude and benefit from his expert tips on plant care. Future videos will feature his garden's aloes and oddies.

Succulents in Silver

Succulents in Silver (3:09)
Container garden designer Berna Eren of Istanbul, who visited me in May, shows how to make a simple, elegant tabletop arrangement in a silver-plated serving dish. Berna, who turned a hobby into a business, shops for heirloom-like containers worldwide. We found this chafing dish at The Country Friends consignment shop in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, where Berna exclaimed that prices were "better than Portobello Road!" Colored glass topdressing is from American Specialty Glass.

Succulent Wreath

Make a Cold-Hardy Succulent Wreath (3:33)
Katie Christensen of Waterwise Botanicals creates a succulent wreath of frost-tolerant sedums, red-and-teal sempervivums and silvery blue Crassula sarcocaulis. Katie---a member of the Succulent Fanatics Facebook group, which now numbers 6,318 (!)---recently moved to the San Diego area from Seattle. When you visit the nursery, be sure to say hello.

The Succulent Kid

Is anything more endearing than a kid who's into horticulture? At the Eco-Xpo, the audience enjoyed it when Matthew, 10, upstaged me---and so did I.

Succulent Matters with Matthew #1 (3:23)
Matthew, 10, shows succulents in his back yard, including Agave americana, Aloe 'Candy Corn' and Opuntia littoralis, as well as his indoor plant collection.

Succulent Matters with Matthew #2: Caudiciforms (2:27)
Matthew introduces his collection of caudiciforms, giving their Latin names and botanical families. Caudiciforms are succulents with a caudex: a bulbous trunk or root that serves as a water-storage tank. Leaves of caudiciforms tend to be delicate, and some are vining. Matthew also goes shopping for additions to his collection. I've adopted him as my unofficial "#2 Grandson," so naturally I bought him something.

Speaking of Kids...

succulent kids

These four attended the first of several presentations I gave at Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival, then returned to attend the final one. They'd caught cuttings I had thrown into the audience and hoped for more. I explained, regretfully, that I'd been asked not to. The kids had such enthusiasm and looked so crestfallen, I told them to wait until the crowd dispersed. Then, as they politely held open their Festival totes, I pruned the display plants.

Would Your Garden Stop a Wildfire?

spineless opuntia

A spineless opuntia pad from Ito Nursery, waiting to go into my garden. I plan to return for more to put along my fence.

In the extreme heat of a firestorm, even water-filled plants burn, and high winds blow embers into eaves. Yet it's possible your landscape can provide a moisture-laden fire barrier, particularly if you have dense plantings of large succulents such as aloes, agaves, euphorbias, jade, elephant's food (Portulacaria afra) and cacti.

The perfect firebreak succulent may be spineless prickly pear, which has numerous virtues beyond being slow to catch on fire. Plants with leaves that grow larger and thicker than oven mitts can survive on rainfall alone and aren't prickly (no gloves needed). The cactus tolerates temperatures down to 20F and above 100F, and it starts readily from cuttings; simply stick a pad in the ground. Flowers are satiny orange-yellow, and plants form an impenetrable green mass to 8 feet tall. The fruit is edible, as is the flesh (nopales). The largest population I know of is at Ito Nursery, 31825 Los Rios St., San Juan Capistrano, CA; (949) 661-7291. Owner Doug Ito doesn't know the species; he told me his dad started it from cuttings obtained from a rosarian (rose specialist) in the '70s.

succulents after fire

Aloe arborescens protected a vulnerable corner of the Shaefer home in Rancho Santa Fe.
Remarkably, the centers of the rosettes were still green and viable. Suzy Shaefer salvaged a few and replanted them.

In the fall of 2007, after Southern CA was severely impacted by wind-driven brush fires, I wrote a feature for the Los Angeles Times: "Did Succulents Save Her Home?" Since then, it has been republished widely, including in Australia.

My Mission Is...

...to share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulents in gardens, containers and landscapes via blog posts, newsletters, public speaking and workshops, photos, videos, merchandise, and social media (Facebook and Pinterest). My books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified.

Please share this if you like. I welcome photos of your garden's progress, and any super design ideas you come up with or may run across. I also hope to see (and meet) you at one of my events! ~ Debra Lee Baldwin

If you enjoyed one of my presentations, I'd be grateful if you'd post a comment on the Great Garden Speakers website. Thanks!

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