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Designing with Succulents

By Debra Lee Baldwin

Inspiring, practical, and complete — a treasure for any gardener who loves these otherworldly beauties.


Succulent plants offer dazzling possibilities for garden design and require only minimal maintenance to remain lush and alluring year round. Featuring the work of more than 50 professional garden designers and creative homeowners, this complete design compendium is as practical as it is inspirational. Lavishly illustrated with over 300 photographs, it gives design and cultivation basics for paths, borders, slopes, and containers; hundreds of succulent plant recommendations; and descriptions of 90 easy-care, drought-tolerant companion plants. Beginners and experienced designers, landscapers, and collectors alike will find what they need to visualize, create, and nurture the three-dimensional work of art that is the succulent garden.

Media reviews

"Those designing a new landscape and those hoping to add these botanical treasures into an existing garden will find Baldwin's gorgeously illustrated, detail-rich guide a worthy purchase."

Library Journal

"New plantings as well as additions to existing gardens will benefit from Baldwin's presentation of color, texture, and shape in the form of drought-tolerant plant species."

—John Bagnasco, Garden Compass

"A solid overview for landscape architects working with succulents."

Landscape Architecture

"[Baldwin] illustrates how novices and experts alike can create lush and vibrant gardens that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally responsible."

—Amanda Dameron, Western Interiors & Design

"We love Designing with Succulents ... as inspiring as it is practical, with color photos that show how to use these otherwordly beauties in borders, on slopes, between patio pavers, mixed with other perennials or grasses — even in undersea themed gardens."


"Many people know about succulents, but using them in the landscape is another matter. Designing with Succulents shows us how; it's inspiring, practical, and complete — a treasure for any gardener who loves these otherworldly beauties."

—Kathleen N. Brenzel, Sunset

"Truly a guide to designing with succulents, not simply growing them. From planning a garden to coping with weather conditions, the prospective succulent gardener will find what they need on these pages."

—Rochelle Reed, San Luis Obispo Tribune

"Having recently finished reading Debra Lee Baldwin's book, Designing with Succulents, I am convinced that succulents are not only wonderful as showcase elements in ones and twos, but can serve as the backbone of your landscape design."

—Jennifer Jewell, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles

"Provides inspiration for creating color, texture, and interest — just the qualities every garden's artistic director seeks. Let Debra Lee Baldwin introduce you to the fun of designing with succulents."

—Sandra J. Sandefur, Perennial Notes

"[A] lusciously photographed volume."

—Sarah E. Smith, Oregonian

"Packed with tips and loaded with photos that will inspire you to add succulents to your garden, whether it's one container or an entire front yard."

—Holly Hayes, San Jose Mercury News

"Offers a plethora of possibilities for lending more visual appeal to the landscape."

—Micki Brown, Victorville Daily Press

"With useful resources, such as the 'plant palette' and a chapter on companion plants, this book helps the succulent gardener create a work of art."

—Jennifer Chance, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles

"Baldwin's book takes readers on a delightful walk through a wonderful land of colorful, elegant, and drought-resistant plants that few of us can identify by name."

—Jackie Houchin, Valley News

"One of the charms of her book is that it is so readable, while being a practical encyclopedia of all things succulent."

—Mary Curran Downey, San Diego Union-Tribune

"If you have gardeners on your gift list who are living in warm climates, this gardening book is one they will treasure. And don't forget your indoor gardening pals. ... This book is the bible that tells how to grow [succulents] and then use them to create gorgeous landscapes and containers that become stunning works of art."

—Nancy Szerlag, Detroit News

"The advice given is wise and borne of the author's firsthand experience, but is not too prescriptive and is full of great ideas with illustrations to match."

—Nigel Taylor, Gardens Illustrated

"If it were not for [this book] ... I might have given up succulents forever. But one can't help but be inspired by photographs that induce sighs and daydreams, and not a small amount of garden envy."

—Mariana Greene, Dallas Morning News

"Baldwin's alluring and stimulating guide offers a wealth of design ideas melded with informative cultural advice and opens gardeners' eyes to a breathtaking variety of succulents for any situation. ... Towering to tiny, the array of succulents presented is exciting and compelling."

—Alice Joyce, Booklist

"An excellent introduction to these increasingly popular plants, and how to use them in the garden."

—Joan S. Bolton, Santa Maria Times

"[A] delightful and inspiring journey through the world of succulents, which are presented as viable options for private and public landscapes, particularly in regions where water is a serious concern. ... Throughout, the text is richly illustrated with photographs of succulents used effectively in gardens large and small, with or without other types of plants. This is an exciting new addition to anyone's library."

Pacific Horticulture

"Packed with practical advice on how to raise these fascinating plants."

—Holly Hayes, San Jose Mercury News

"Baldwin shares her expertise in a way that is immediately reader-friendly and writes about succulents ... in a clear, colorful manner. She's a skilled photographer whose photos ... add interest and excitement to this gardening tome."

—Peggi Ridgway, Bloomin' News

"I love [Designing with Succulents] and you will too. It appeals to beginners, experienced designers, landscapers and collectors. A well-known garden writer and photographer, Debra spotlights versatile, fascinating succulents and cactus and their cultivation in various climates and soils. ... There are many luscious closeups of elegant, dramatic specimens and plant combinations."

—Jeanne Santangelo, Novato Advance

"[With] 255 pages filled with over 300 high quality photographs of exquisite plants and exemplary gardens, Designing with Succulents should be a necessary purchase for any gardener."

—Michael Buckner, Let's Talk Plants

"Photos show landscapes of succulents, small container gardens, and many designs in between. ... Offers hours of engaging perusal."

Monterey County Herald

"Baldwin hit the mark with her detailed work. ... Her easy to understand writing style is user friendly to the backyard gardener, yet the breadth of information is just as appealing to the expert. She manages to assemble a stellar set of photographs to show succulents as they exist out in the open air. Detailed captions give plenty of information to connect readers with these plants that are little known and less often understood. ... Baldwin should be commended for what might be the best succulent landscaping book written to date."

—Maureen Gilmer, Scripps Howard News Service

About the author

Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin, an award-winning photojournalist, is widely hailed as the “Queen of Succulents.” She helped launched the gardening world’s interest in succulents with her first book, Designing with Succulents, and with her two other books Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplified. Baldwin’s own half-acre garden has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset, San Diego Home and Garden, and other publications.

Read more about Debra Lee Baldwin

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