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A tough landscape.  

I was faced with a daunting task.  A client asked me to do her entire garden after a big remodel and add-on to her home. 

Her front yard is in shade for most of the time from huge eucalyptus trees looming in the neighbors’ surrounding yards. This in itself wouldn’t be so bad, but there is a certain element of eucalyptus bark and leaves which can prevent most plants from growing, or at least harm them.   I’ve heard this from people who have gotten free mulch from the City to the detriment of their existing plants in their garden.  (The City of Torrance has huge eucs lining some boulevards.)
So, after reviewing my landscape design books and not finding much on the subject, I hit the Internet to see what I could come up with.  There were a few Aussie sites expounding on the subject, but San Marcos Growers is a great resource for getting good information on plants.  In this article, it contained quite a comprehensive list of hardy plants from different sources and provided a key to that source.  The sources were quite reputable.  Sunset was one of them.  Anyway, I did my homework.  After reviewing the website, I remembered one other ‘complication’ to my endeavor–the landscape must be drought tolerant.  But, these days in this California weather, I can’t do it any other way, so that was a non-issue.  

The San Marcos list was quite the pedestrian list of the most tough and hardy plants around, but I wanted to create a landscape which was more than that.  I stretched it a teensie bit by using Pittosporum of a variety that’s  not mentioned, but one’s gotta take some chances in life, right?  This is what I came up with.   Also, it’s a challenge to take pics without having a lot of shade in them because it’s always shaded.  Oh, and the drainage!  I can write a whole other article on the drainage.Everything after this project will be cake! I’ll take the backyard pictures later.And the icing on the cake!What do you think?  

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I found a wonderful little nursery one day…


I was in town for my daughter’s soccer game and heard that there are many inexpensive drought-tolerant nurseries in the OC and further South.  I needed to get some plants real quick for a major landscape design I was doing, so I found this little gem on Google and went there right before closing.  Everything was nicely labeled and the people were warm and helpful.  I’m thinking of driving one hour out of my way again, but hopefully they deliver….  I wanted to pass along some wonderful information they have in their blog which discusses drought tolerant fruit trees and succulents. Sakioka Nursery, Westminster, CAagave-blue-glow-watermarked



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The word on how to care for succulents.

Knowing what I do about succulents, I  tend to read these articles…every. single. time. I see one.  I don’t know why, but every once in awhile I ‘love’ my succulents too much by giving them too much water, fertilizer, etc.  That’s why it’s good to invest in a water sensor, which I wrote about in my first ever article on this (my) website.

Click here to get DALLA Vita’s article on watering your succulents.

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I’m the “nice” lady, but the one and only Debra Lee Baldwin showed me what a gem she is!  

I asked the guru, or queen of succulents as she’s known in the succulent world for her advice on how to get my business started.  I have corresponded with her in the past, and she’s been very forthcoming and helpful, so I used the old adage “you don’t get what you don’t ask for,” and she took the time to compose a thoughtful email on how to get my business going!  She included so much good information in it with names of people and their companies that I most admire in the field, it also has a lot of good information on starting your own business.  It was so nice of her to share!  I’m a bit relieved that she chose to publish the information because I can share it as well.

Click below for the article in Gardens Gone Wild which contains a wealth of information on starting your own business.  This advice happens to be directed towards succulent design, but it contains valuable information for anyone who is just starting their business.

How to start your succulent design business by Debra Lee Baldwin

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In the Zone of Creativity

Do you happen to love doing something so much that while you are doing it, you have a heightened sense of alertness, lose track of time, feeling the creativity while blocking everything else out and just loving life?  A creativity that occupies your mind so fully that there is no room for any other thoughts?

A lot has been a lot said recently about quieting our right side of the brain to let creativity flow.  To let our minds rest to heal and recover.  I savor these times.  I often get lost and time races at warp speed.  In those moments I flourish.  I’m creating a bit of joy for myself.  A deposit, if you will, into my happiness and well being.  A happy Mama = happy Family.  Everyone wins.

Debra Lee Baldwin discussed this a bit in a post with a link to Rebecca Sweet’s website on the healing benefits of coloring.  It’s a nice story on humans being good to each other.   There are also instructions on how to enter the contest to win Debra Lee Baldwin’s new coloring book!  The info is here: 

Update:  There was a winner and she was happy.  Tip: Subscribe to my blog and you just might win something succulent related.


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I met Debra Lee Baldwin!

Well, there is one more thing I get to check off my list!  I met Debra Lee Baldwin–a.k.a. the Queen of Succulents, a.k.a. the Succulent Chic, a.k.a. the Martha Stewart of succulents!!!

In an article from Sunset Magazine, the author said that Debra is THE person responsible for bringing succulents back to the forefront.  That’s a bold statement, but I believe Ms. Baldwin can back it up.  She has written three books on the subject: Succulents Simplified, Succulents in the Landscape, and Succulent Container Gardens.  Update:  She’s written a fourth now, a succulent coloring book called Sensational Succulents.  It IS sensational as are the rest of them!  She regularly writes articles in well-known magazines (such as Sunset).  She garners a huge following in the succulent community and, thus, gives talks and demonstrations on succulent design and drought tolerant gardens, with a special emphasis on designing succulent containers.  And, she gives away a lot of this knowledge for free (!) by way of YouTube videos and blog articles, Facebook and Instagram, etc.  Because she started out as a journalist and photographer, her articles are both entertaining and beautiful.  Anyway, I have learned so much from her,  I knew I had to meet the woman!

When I arrived at the luncheon that the Santa Barbara Garden Society put on, I am immediately scanned the room and saw her at a table and was amazed that there wasn’t a huge crowd around her. It appeared that a lot of the ladies didn’t know much about her, which was very surprising to me, given her huge following and how dry Santa Barbara is along with the surrounding community.  When I stood in line with a couple of ladies ahead of me, I had a nice chat with her assistant Kyle.  Laura Eubanks, expert in succulent landscapes herself, told me previously that he would be there and to tell him hello.

Another update:  Laura Eubanks has garnered quite the following as well, and is my favorite Landscape Designer.  Her company is called Design For Serenity.  Check out her Facebook page in which she posts a Tip of the Day every day on designing with succulents.  I have learned so much from her through these posts!  Thank you so much for sharing so much with us, Laura! 

When I met Debra, she was quite nice and even handed me a birthday present of note cards of her succulent paintings with a sweet note from her handwritten on top!!!!  She had heard (read?) by email from my husband, that it was my birthday.  In fact, my being there that day was my husband’s birthday gift to me!  (Thank you so much honey!)  I asked Debra to sign two of her books which I already had (another gift from the hub) and we had a nice little chat.   I was so thrilled to have that time with her, and to be present during her presentation the rest of the day, which made that 4 hour drive back home from Santa Barbara not too shabby.  During her talk, she mentioned a garden center called Terra Sol, which is just north of Santa Barbara and said that they are coming up with new succulent hybrids.  Since I was already in town, I had to check out.  I wish I would’ve taken pictures  of some of the interesting varieties they have, but I often forget to take pictures when I am enjoying myself so much!  I took a couple of some beautiful pots that I drooled over.  Can you see the drool marks? Ha!