Debra Lee Baldwin

Can Landscaping Protect a Home from Wildfire?

  Can landscaping protect a home from wildfire? Camille Newton, M.D., of Bonsall, CA, says yes. Dr. Newton started her six-year-old succulent garden mostly from cuttings. “It’s my go-to place after work,” she says, noting that gardening is a stress-reliever. The land’s nutrient-poor, decomposed-granite soil serves as a coarse, fast-draining substrate that she top-dresses with[...]

Bill’s Best: A Top Designer’s Favorite Aloes

Looking for great succulents for your garden? Plant aloes in well-draining soil and “they’ll soon become your favorite succulents,” says Bill Schnetz, one of Southern CA’s most sought-after landscape designers. Bill uses aloes of all sizes in mild-climate residential gardens. For a natural look, he suggests mixing one or two kinds with tough, drought-tolerant ornamental grasses[...]

Don’t Let the Evil Weevil Get Your Agaves!

I first suspected that agave snout-nosed weevil had arrived in my rural community north of San Diego when I noticed a collapsed Agave americana in a friend’s yard. I could barely believe it. She lives atop a rocky hill surrounded by acres and acres of chaparral. Either the weevil had arrived via infested nursery stock (on a different[...]

Spring, Succulents and Scorching Blooms

Here in California, a spring garden’s most vivid blooms often are those of succulent ice plants. Aloes, bulbine and numerous arid-climate companions are bright and beautiful from March through mid-May. Increasing temps tend to put the kibosh on delicate spring flowers. If you live near the coast, you’ll enjoy a longer spring, but you may[...]

Designing with Cold-Climate Succulents

Becky Sell of Sedum Chicks plants cold-hardy succulents in repurposed wood-and-metal containers, hypertufa pots, wreaths and more. She grows the plants, too, where she lives in Turner, Oregon, near the Washington border. Becky’s compositions can overwinter outdoors in northerly climates (Zones 4 to 8), providing the potting medium drains well. Cold-hardy succulents such as stonecrops[...]