Book Review: Succulent Container Gardens

by Andrew Keys on March 5, 2010

Apparently it’s succulent week here on GS. Don’t miss my review of Sedum ‘Bertram Anderson.’

How thrilling is it when you can see, as a reader, that an author is truly smitten with her subject?

By her own account, Debra Lee Baldwin was born and raised in Southern California, one of the most hospitable-to-succulents places in the United States, and her adoration for that fascinating, fleshy group of plants shines in the pages of this book like Sedum ‘Angelina.’

Unlike some of us, lulled into complacency at the mere thought of SoCal weather, Debra’s not content simply to bask in the Cali sun with her succulents, and this book is a product of that discontent. Fortunately, it turns out Debra’s discontent produces beautiful, useful things.

You see, Debra (@DebraLBaldwin on Twitter) heard from a lot of folks, including yours truly, who adore succulents just as much, but who bemoan (Um… Constantly bemoan) the dearth of succulents we can grow outdoors in our colder climates. Friends, don’t let the sun-drenched Mediterranean photos here fool you: this is Debra’s opus for the rest of us. Succulents and containers were made for each other, and containers can come indoors.

Succulent Container Gardens, from Timber Press, is a remarkably effective book. I’m amazed at the amount of information packed into such a small volume. It’s concise yet comprehensive, equally accessible to amateur and pro. Somehow, amidst all the practical narrative, Debra managed to fit in an exhaustive mini-catalog of succulents, a combo that’s garden writing gold to a plant geek like myself.

What I love most about this book, and what’s key for me in any gardening book, is the photos, many (if not most) by the author herself. Sure, they’re gorgeous and plentiful. But more than that, I love that they do right by succulents as dynamic container plants that excel in virtually every garden style today, from classy to kitsch. Take a gander. All photos used with Debra’s permission.

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