"Anyone who knows Debra Lee Baldwin is aware of her extraordinary prowess as an author, writer, photographer, and artist...her book, Succulents Simplified, is a work of art." --- Fran Sorin, Gardening Contributor, CBS Radio News
"As with all of her previous books, I'm a huge fan. However I was particularly excited to read about the crafty succulent projects shown in the book. From quick and easy succulent rosettes for bouquets, to teeny tiny mint-tin gardens, to succulent-topped pumpkins there's a project in this book for even the most craft-challenged." -- Author/designer Rebecca Sweet in her blog, Gossip in the Garden
"Ms. Baldwin's step-by-step projects for crafters as well as numerous container and dish gardens give Succulents Simplified a wider appeal than a straight gardening book. It's the perfect starter volume for those new to succulents, while satisfying and delighting veterans with the variation and solid growing tips based on the author's evident joy in succulents and cacti." -- Geri Laufer, New York Journal of Books
"Debra is nothing if not passionate about succulents...In Succulents Simplified (Timber Press) she demystifies these popular low-water beauties." -- James Baggett, editor, Country Gardens Magazine
"This fresh and entertaining volume certainly deserves a green thumbs up."
From the Author
Yet even as I say this, around the edges of my awareness floats a much earlier memory. I was eight or nine years old when I went with my mother to a home in a wealthy community for an occasion I don't remember. When we returned home, my mother described the house to my father: "Big picture windows, but imagine having to clean them. Views of the golf course, but the property is too steep. Surrounded by trees, but they shed leaves and bark. Big deck off the living room, but no garden."
No garden? There had been an astonishing one, in pots on the deck, with plants unlike any I'd seen before. They looked like eels, starfish, and coral. One was a perfect little sphere with a green-and-maroon herringbone pattern. Others were necklaces of blue-gray buttons, rubbery silver-blue roses, and sticks of green chalk with windowed tips.
My mother concluded wistfully, "Maybe someday Debbie will have a house like that."
Why would I want it, I wondered, if it came with dirty windows, messy trees, and near-vertical land? On the other hand, who wouldn't want that deck garden? It became something I longed for, along with a saltwater aquarium, a hot air balloon, and an unlimited supply of chocolate marshmallows.
I no longer want any of those, but succulents continue to seduce me. I'm that little girl again when I see a succulent I haven't seen before, or even a well-grown one I may have seen dozens of times. You might assume I have a vast collection, and although I do own dozens of varieties, I don't consider myself a collector. Fascination need not be possession. I'm equally happy looking at succulents in a nursery, at a show, or in someone else's garden. In particular, I enjoy capturing and recording succulents' myriad shapes and textures with my camera.
For most of my career, I've written about all sorts of plants. Words are still my first love, but nothing describes a plant or a garden as well as a photo. As I practice this art form, I often think of how "photography" means "writing with light." Camera in hand, I circle a succulent, looking for the best light. In slanted early morning or late afternoon sun, red margins burn neon bright, spines incandesce, fuzzy filaments shimmer, and leaves reveal glowing hues of rose, orange, purple, and blue. As you might imagine, it was difficult to winnow the selection of photos for my books. So many have merit, or illustrate an important point, and I was continually thinking, "But I have to show them this one!"
Succulents Simplified, my third book about succulents, is a kind of prequel to the previous two. It's a guide for novice enthusiasts, a quick reference for anyone seeking an overview, and a vehicle for presenting design ideas I'm excited about. Throughout, I share my perspective on a subject that has become my passion.