Debra Lee Baldwin

KPBS-TV in My Garden


“As the market for water thirsty plants dries up, sales of cacti and succulents are thriving — and San Diego’s North County is ground zero for all things succulent.” So begins a segment on KPBS-TV by Alison St. John, a bureau chief who has been covering local issues for decades. Alison interviewed me in my garden[...]

My Garden’s Blue Belly Lizards


If you garden in the Southwest, doubtless you have Western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), also known as blue bellies. They do push-up displays on boulders and scurry if you get too close. They’re part of my garden’s ecosystem, and I’m grateful to them for eating insects. Other than that, I seldom gave them a thought…until recently. Boys visited this summer—my[...]

After the Lawn: A Front Yard of Succulents

Gleason5, 1.15, 1 yr_2

Chris and John Gleason of San Diego did a brave thing: They tore out a perfectly fine front yard. Most people who want to save water merely let their lawns die and replace them with less thirsty plants. The Gleasons went several steps further. They got rid of a healthy ornamental plum tree and a privacy hedge that[...]

Bulbils from a Bloomed-Out Agave

Agave bulbils

When young succulent horticulturist Matthew Wong, 11, visited, we cut down the bloom spike of my octopus agave and harvested bulbils. Octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana) grows to about 4 feet in diameter and 5 feet tall. A “soft” agave, its leaves lack teeth and its tips come to a point but are not sharp. In[...]