Roger’s Garden

– Posted in: Garden Adventures

In Southern California, Rogers Gardens is famous,  the largest independent nursery on the West Coast. But this post is about a different Roger’s garden, one cultivated by Roger Martin for 40 years. When I visited him and wife Gerry, Roger pressed plants on me—anything I admired or asked about was added to a box of cuttings and potted plants Gerry thoughtfully packed up for me.

Roger, you see, can’t bring himself to throw away a cutting when he’s pruning back his succulents. So he pots them up. He sells them, too, for the cost of the pots and soil plus a little extra for his time. If you live in the San Diego area, do look him up (  He has some treasures, not to mention a garden only a mountain goat could love.

Roger “down” in his garden. I’ll say.

Gerry on her cell, as seen from the garden.

View from the Martins’ back patio, where Gerry was standing. Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ in pots.

A pot grouping along one side of the house.

Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ in bloom.

A ruffled echeveria in Roger’s collection.

And another.

A kalanchoe repeats the colors of a mosaic pot. “I’m in charge of aesthetics,” Gerry says.

Roger, enjoying the sunshine and plants on his patio.

My goal is to share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulents in gardens, containers and landscapes via blog postsnewsletterspublic speaking and workshopsphotosvideosmerchandise, and social media (Facebook and Pinterest). My books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardensand Succulents Simplified. 

Debra Lee Baldwin
Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored the Timber Press bestsellers Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. Debra is a regular contributor to Sunset and other publications, and her own half-acre garden near San Diego has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens. Debra specializes in showing how to use architectural, waterwise and easy-care succulents in a wide variety of appealing and creative applications.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin

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16 Comments… add one

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ann April 4, 2012, 6:35 am

Garden and succulents are gorgeous. There is not a mountain that I don’t love even if I am not a goat.

Judy April 4, 2012, 9:33 am

Gardening on a hillside, that’s heroic!

Karen Chapman April 4, 2012, 10:11 am

I love these sort of gardeners and gardens. Their passion is inspiring. At least I’d be safe if I visited since I’d have to carry cuttings back to Seattle. Mind you I have been known to stuff dwarf conifers into socks and shoes in my carry on…

Jeff April 4, 2012, 10:27 am

What a glorious, chaotic, abundant… mess. And I use the word ‘mess’ in a very positive way. I love the exuberance!

janine robinson April 4, 2012, 11:27 am

love this guy!! thanks for sharing his story and photos! (i’m blasting it out on facebook and twitter!)

Thanks, Janine! I know Roger and Gerry will appreciate it. — Debra

door251 April 4, 2012, 1:07 pm


Love the blog, you def have a new follower.

I was wondering if you knew what kind of plants are good for heavily shaded gardens? we have a tiny tiny city garden, but it is surrounded by big oak trees which i suspect are sucking the life out of everything, couple that with it not getting an ounce of sun and me being a complete novice, i’ve no idea what to plant in there, everything from last year died.

thanks for your help!!

Hm. All I can suggest, without knowing where you live, is to grow indoor houseplants outdoors in pots. Sansevierias are a good choice, but will need to be protected from frost. — Debra

ricki - sprig to twig April 4, 2012, 2:12 pm

I have yet to meet a gardener who was not generous to a fault. Thanks for this enticing profile. I might make the long drive for that first ruffled echeveria alone (not really, but I will for sure be on the lookout for it.

Hi, Ricki — Before you jump in your car, I should explain that not all the plants shown here are for sale. Many of them, including that echeveria, are in Roger’s private collection. — Debra

Cathy April 4, 2012, 8:58 pm

Roger has an East Coast doppelganger. Manny (Mendes, president of the New England Rose Society) is to roses what Roger is to succulents. I have to say, where would we be without their encyclopedic knowledge, hands on know how, and kind and generous hearts?

I so enjoyed reading your post… I only wish I lived closer!

Hi, Cathy — I wish you did, too! Thanks for dropping by, and for telling us about Manny. — Debra

Missy April 4, 2012, 10:03 pm

A wonderful garden and a wonderful couple. It’s too far for me to come from Australia to visit in person, so thank you for giving me the chance to see it.

Hi, Missy — Roger and Gerry read your comment and are thrilled that someone from your corner of the globe is now aware of their garden! — Debra

Sheila Schultz April 4, 2012, 11:16 pm

Roger’s garden looks amazing, but he seems to be the real treasure.

Well said, Sheila. ;+) — Debra

Cindy April 6, 2012, 8:46 am

Love the eclectic collection of pots and succulents throughout the garden. Lovely!

You can tell a lot of time went into accumulating them. There’s something to see in every nook and cranny. — Debra

Maybelline April 6, 2012, 5:32 pm

Whew. That garden looks like a workout!

No kidding. It requires the balancing skills of a ballerina, too. — Debra

Denise April 7, 2012, 4:25 pm

So that’ s the size bloom I can expect on my ‘Cyclops’! These hillside gardeners have my deepest respect. With the amount of work that goes into terracing, it’s a miracle their backs are still holding them upright. But the plants are obviously loving it.

Very true. Succulents in particular like to grow on slopes because water drains away from their roots. They don’t like to sit in water. — Debra

Donna April 7, 2012, 9:18 pm

I guess it is good that succulents are good with water because that is one huge area to garden. Pretty amazing and admirable for the pair doing it for 40 years.

Hi, Donna — I know. It’s like gardening on a stairmaster. Roger’s in remarkably good shape. He told me he’s always been into sports and fitness. Gerry, too. — Debra

Andrew Garden ideas April 14, 2012, 6:10 am

You are blessed with a near perfect climate for succulents, we in the UK have far too much wet and damp I fear. But that should not stop some from trying out a few in pots on the patio etc.

Carranza Isidoro February 11, 2015, 1:09 am

That looks amazing. Thanks. For sharing love your gardens

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