Friday, December 20, 2013

Garden Book Review - "Succulents Simplified"

If you’ve ever had hens and chicks in your garden, you know how easy they are to grow and multiply.  They’re one of the many varieties of plants described in the book ‘Succulents Simplified’ by Debra Lee Baldwin.  She feels succulents are seductive in their easy care maintenance and by switching to them for houseplants, one can go away for two weeks at a time without worrying about having a neighbour water.  The fleshier a succulent, the longer it can, and should go between waterings.  Outdoors, succulents grow well in containers and can therefore be moved to shelter if needed.
Many succulents such as echeverias, sermpervivums, aeoniums and graptopetalums have rosette shapes resembling flowers but there is a whole host of shapes, textures and patterns available.
Some plants have edible or herbal properties such as the gel of aloe vera which has been used to soothe sunburn, prickly pear cactus pads that can be eaten raw or cooked and dragon fruit, a tropical vining cactus.  Tequila agave is important to Mexico for when the plants are about to bloom, they’re cut back so sugars will concentrate to be extracted as a liquid to ferment and be distilled to produce tequila.
Baldwin is passionate about succulents and the many coloured photos show rainbows of hues and bizarre shapes that inspire a gardener to collect them.  The author lives just outside of San Diego with a climate suited to growing succulents but the sections in the book on growing them as houseplants will give plenty of ideas for us with snow covered winters to grow them in our homes.
A large glass trifle bowl can look magnificent with different colours of sand layers topped by gravel and rock amid a few select succulents.  Containers that don’t have a drainage hole should be watered sparingly with distilled water so salts don’t build up in the soil.  Those with holes, need the salt leached through by thoroughly running water through the pot and out the bottom, as you would do with any houseplant.
Recommendations for potting, including soil mix, propagating and refreshing tired looking, overgrown containers are covered with easy to follow directions.  As is troubleshooting for pests and diseases.
The section on repurposed containers and collectibles offers concepts as brilliant as using mint tins for a mini garden.
 The projects showcasing succulents include a cake-stand centrepiece, living picture vertical gardens, dish gardens and hanging baskets.   Below is a garden lady, cleverly put together.
 To create a topiary sphere the book shows how to glue a hundred hens and chicks into a masterpiece.
 Lastly, directions to make a bridal bouquet and corsage or boutonniere are given, and they are awesome.  The last chapter lists 100 easy-care succulents with photos and care for each.  Baldwin has written two other books on succulents and shares more about the plants and events she is attending on her FaceBook page also called Succulents Simplified.
If you want to go beyond growing hens and chicks, this book is a must for exciting creativity.
I'm linking with Roses and Other Gardening Joys for the monthly garden book review.

20 comments:

ann said...

This book is a mist have. I do have a few succulents. There is a small nursery here that grows them for the larger garden centers. However, since Pinterest that has all of the beautiful succulent ideas, succulents are getting harder to find. Great post.

HolleyGarden said...

I need this book! I have several containers that I forget to water regularly - and I think having succulents in them would be perfect! LOVE the garden lady! And the mint tins are adorable! I'm putting this book on my wish list. Thanks so much for joining in!

Beth said...

She has done amazing things with her succulents. Love the woman covered in them, and the box in your first photo. A fellow MG made a berm in her yard and it's covered with succulents/sedum of different types. It is very attractive. I have a few sedums and a few hen and chicks. They are attractive but I'm not sure that my clay soil is the best for them.

Marissa said...

What a great book. I love the simplicity of succulents too.
every spring I plant some for my back porch.
and best of all very little care..
xo marissa

lindaakacraftygardener said...

I love succulents and this looks like a wonderful addition to my gardening library. I fill all sorts of containers with the rapidly multiplying hens & chicks and display them in many places in the garden.

Sylvia said...

Beautiful. I do have 'Hen and Chicks' in my flower beds, they are so easy to take care of since you really don't have to do a thing.

podso said...

They are attractive and colorful. Interesting article, Judith..

Jennifer said...

This sounds like a great book. I like the both the lady and the sphere. I have to wonder- are the succulents dried as they are "glued" onto the figure?

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

I have a container of succulents that sis almost neglected on the deck all summer and then just stuck in the unseated garage all winter. I haul the container out again in the spring and it goes on like that. Valerie

dorothy said...

I like those ceative uses of succulents. I've been wanting to make a succulent sphere. And the garden lady made me smile! I didn't know about using distilled water but that makes sense. Thanks for reviewing the book!

Vee said...

I have a hard time raising hens and chicks. I have a small patch atop a rock wall. Love the living statuary.

Country Gal said...

I have never tryed these , maybe this summer I will ! Thanks for sharing these pretties on such a damp dreary day here ! Have a good weekend !

Georgianna said...

Looks like a great book, Judith. I don't have any succulents but this makes growing them very tempting. Wishing you a wonderful weekend. G

Cindy said...

This looks like something I'd really enjoy Judith thanks for sharing. I'm putting it on grandmas list. Do you know the name of the plant that is covering the head in the one picture? My memory....

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

This is a great looking book! I have had a couple of succulents over the years.

Linda @ Friendship Tea said...

What a great post! Thanks for sharing this book!

eileeninmd said...

What a great book! The succulents are pretty in the containers and I love the topiary. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing. Happy Sunday!

Angela McRae said...

Thank you for this review, Judith! I recently bought some sort of succulents in a little faux-concrete teacup at an antique mall. It seems like I only remember to water them every few weeks or so, and they are thriving. MY kind of houseplant, for sure!

Donna said...

I have thought about having succulents and this may be the perfect book. Thanks!

chloris said...

I shall see if I can find this book, what amazing ideas for using succulents!
Chloris

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