The Impermanent Hippos of Louisa’s Garden

– Posted in: Succulents

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When I arrived at Louisa’s garden, the first thing I noticed was a mother hippo and her baby, made of metal, in the driveway. Well, if you had a couple of hippos, where would you keep them?

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Before long, it was like a where’s-Waldo hunt. Where would the next hippo appear? I became attuned to little ears, beady eyes, flaring nostrils, and rusty skin covered with a patchwork of welds.

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One surfaced beneath a tree. Treading mulch, as hippos do.


Another was right behind it. I asked Louisa how many hippos in all. She hesitated, evidently taking a mental tally. “Five.”

I nodded. Four big, one little.


“Wait! There’s another!” I said.

“Oh, are there THREE down there?” Louisa asked, looking down over her patio rail. “Why yes, there are. OK, six then.”

For a couple of years, Louisa explained, an artist from Africa had rented a studio from her because her home is within walking distance of the San Diego Zoo. The artist—a metal sculptor—created many wonderful life-sized animals out of repurposed metal, including the gorilla in her front yard.

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Well, yes, I had noticed the gorilla in her front yard. “He had to leave some hippos behind when he left,” Louisa said. “He couldn’t take them with him. So they’re not really mine. They’re on loan.”

Ah, of course. Impermanent hippos.

So, how about you? I suspect you have no hippos, but are there any delightfully unexpected, odd or unusual art (or other objects) in your garden? I confess to having a few, but that’s another post. ;+)

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 Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
4 comments… add one

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Rebecca June 6, 2014, 9:39 am

No hippos here (yet). However, I’d be happy to host one (or six) – permanently even!

Pam/Digging June 8, 2014, 11:44 pm

Funny that you post about hippos in a garden because I just did the same. I visited a garden in Hutton, Texas, which had quite a collection of Hutto Hippos. I took pics of only a sampling. Boy, were they fun. Click my link to see the post; I wasn’t able to add it to my comment.

Tira July 5, 2014, 3:42 pm

Hi Debra those hippos are really cool. Thanks for the fun post. I have to complete a new succulent bed late this month so will be going back to your books and pics again.

Debra Lee Baldwin July 7, 2014, 1:55 am

I do love whimsy in gardens, but these are over the top. Pam, those Hutto Hippos are indeed fun! What a coincidence!

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