Succulents are the plants that my grandmother grew in pots on the stairs in the front of her house. She hardly ever watered them and or paid much attention to them but they did just fine. Succulents store water in their roots, stems, and leaves so thrive on neglect so I guess my grandmother was in sync with them. But growing succulents aesthetically takes a bit more thought and Debra Lee Baldwin’s book, Designing with Succulents, teaches you how.
The book is divided into two basic parts. The first deals with the design and cultivation of succulents; the second describes various succulents and the plants that make good companions for them. A bibliography and list of gardens open to the public that include cacti and succulents in their collections conclude the work.
The initial chapters introduce the basic concepts of planning and preparing the garden with special attention paid to the principles of landscape design. Garden enhancements such as water features are described and the importance of color is discussed. A chapter on theme gardens considers succulents used for a specific purpose or situation such as fire-safety, roof gardens, and labyrinths. A chapter on container gardening presents some creative design ideas and topiary projects. For people living in cold and wet climates, Baldwin explains ways to overwinter succulents and lists some that are hardy in zones 8 and colder. General plant care including propagation and pest control round out this first section of the book.
The second section deals with the many different kinds of succulents that are available and suitable companion plants. Succulents are divided into three groups by size, tall, medium, and small with a chapter devoted to each. Individual plants are described and suggestions are made for using the plant in the garden or in a container. The emphasis is on design rather than how to grow each plant.
If you want inspiration on how to use succulents in your garden, this is an excellent source of ideas. The text is lavishly illustrated with over 300 color photographs of plants and succulent gardens, and show how beautiful succulents can be when used according to the basic principles of design. The illustrations alone are an education in using succulents.