Debra is known by many as the ‘Queen of Succulents’, thanks to her amazing books, Succulent Container Gardens and Designing with Succulents and the many talks and presentations she gives all over the country.
So while I assumed her garden would be fabulous… I wasn’t prepared for just how fabulous it was!
Debra’s 1/2-acre garden, nestled in a Southern California canyon, is clearly her playground. Woven throughout are cactus, succulents and natives combined with whimsical statues, pots and artwork from her son’s childhood. This is not a typical showcase garden, but rather a peek into Debra’s private world.
However, it’s not a mishmash of plants and knick-knacks either. Natural dirt pathways thoughtfully meander through the different areas of the garden. Some may lead up the hill, some may lead down towards the tomatoes, all designed to encourage the visitor to leisurely enjoy the garden.
Some were created in a deceptively simple manner, with one or two plants per pot. Yet each was stunning. As I’ve learned from reading her books, the reason these simple creations work so well is because much thought was given to pairing the containers with each plant. And I can tell you she practices what she preaches! These containers are perfect examples of what she teaches: repetition of color, form, shape and texture are crucial for creating artistic combinations.
And of course, the surface of each container is tended to with just as much detail, never left bare. Examples of toppings I saw were decorative gravel, shells or glass – all in complementary colors, sizes and shapes.
I couldn’t stop ‘oohing’ and ‘aahing’ over the following two containers as I loved their autumnal colors which reminded me of my birch trees back home that were about to change colors. Debra shared a few photography tricks as she helped position them with a cloth as the background, to better capture and reflect the light.
And finally, at the end of a very long and narrow balcony, is this dynamic pairing of painted and living art.
Amazing, isn’t she?