This is the third book about succulents by author Debra Lee Baldwin, and like the two prior books, Designing with Succulents, and Succulent Container Gardens, it is seductive in its use of beautiful images enticing the gardener into exploring with these fascinating plants.
This latest book incorporates ideas from the first two books, encouraging the bold use of succulents in designing landscapes and container gardens, as well as a number of creative projects such as creating wall mosaics and flower arrangements using succulent plants. A list of 100 easy-care varieties rounds out the book and includes a number of succulents and cactus that can be grown almost anywhere there is little or no frost or with moderate protection.
As a starter book for the beginning succulent gardener, this volume is perhaps the best of the three in that it does simplify the use of succulents. The introductory section presents a strong argument for designing and gardening with succulents, especially in drier, drought-stressed areas. Most of the basics are clearly presented with useful information on combining plants for those gardeners not ready to give over the entire garden to succulents. For anyone perplexed by these plants the book makes the subject easily approachable and, even with the more craft-based projects the presentation leaves one with an “I can do that” feeling. (I must admit that after reading this book I have been scanning my walls for good places to mount hanging succulent balls.)
Succulents Simplified is remarkable for covering the basics as well as providing valuable insights for more experienced gardeners. We should never stop learning. With any book devoted to design and craft an overabundance of “cuteness” can end up cloying. This book has its share of cute, but it is limited, and in some cases even endearing.
Now I will go seeking Echeveria ‘Fire and Ice’ (pg. 214) to add to my collection.
Steve Gerischer, PHS board president
Los Angeles, California