2016 Succulent Extravaganza Speakers & Presenters

We are thrilled to have a large group of talented professionals and volunteers participating in the 2016 Succulent Extravaganza! Here's a little more about each of our presenters.  

View the whole 2016 Succulent Extravaganza Schedule

Download and print the Flyer/Map here

Lisa Waud, Flower House and pot & box

Based in Detroit, Michigan, Lisa Waud is the founder and owner of pot & box, a floral design and horticultural decor studio. In February, pot & box celebrated its 9th year of business business. It has become a well-known and sought-after design studio for weddings and other special events in the Detroit area.

Lisa is also the creator of Flower House, a contemporary floral installation that took place October 15, 16, and 17, 2015 filling an abandoned Detroit house with American-grown fresh flowers and living plants. The project received international media attention, including the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, and Vogue Portugal.

Lisa has been arranging flowers in the soil and in the vase in a variety of places for over 15 years—from the volcanic slopes of Hawaii, to the clay garden beds of the Pacific Northwest, and across the great [lakes] state of Michigan. Lisa lives in Detroit, and when she’s not playing with flowers, you can find her scheming up field trips with her giant dog Zero, practicing writing in calligraphy, or planning explorations in other inspirational cities. Lisa is also the Detroit City host of Creative Mornings, organizer of two annual indie markets—hldymrkt and vlntnsdymrkt and the concierge of a website called #couplecrush.


Ryan Penn, Horticulturalist at the Ruth Bancroft Gardens

A Diablo Valley native, Ryan has been working in horticulture for 10 years, having specialized in California natives, plants of the Proteacea family, alpines, and generally anything bizarre. Ryan has been at the Ruth Bancroft Garden for over 2 years. His horticultural experience includes irrigation, aesthetic pruning, boulder and flagstone rockeries, and the care of a wide variety of plants groups.

Ryan received a B.A. in English literature from UCLA and attended graduate school in Theology and Philosophy. He has also served on the board of Markham Nature Park and Arboretum in Concord, and is presently the Nursery Manager at Markham.


Robin Stockwell, Founder of Succulent Gardens

Robin has been focused on the functional use of succulent plants for almost 40 years. Raised on the coast of northern California, he has worked in nurseries from the age of 12. He began growing succulent plants in 1972 and operated Oceanside Cactus and Succulent nursery from 1976 to 1985. In 1980 he opened Succulent Gardens in the Barnyard Shopping Village. Robin stopped growing succulent plants in 1985, but in 2003, after 18 years away from growing, Robin opened a new location in Castroville, California and began growing succulents all over again at Succulent Gardens the Growing Grounds. Robin and his plants have received numerous awards and have been the subject of articles in many newspapers (Monterey Herald, Santa Cruz Sentinel, San Jose Mercury), magazines (Sunset, Garden Design, Pacific Coast Nurseryman), radio and TV. He speaks to gardening groups both large and small including garden shows in San Francisco and Seattle and Sunset Celebration Weekend and has appeared on, radio shows and TV. In 2014 Robin sold Succulent Gardens to the Rodkin family. He continues to speak about succulents, in between trips with his wife and family and frequent surfing outings. Robin is currently writing a succulent book with Sunset Magazine, to be released in January 2017.


Debra Lee Baldwin, 'Queen of Succulents'


Debra Lee Baldwin, popularly known as the “Queen of Succulents,” specializes in showing these sculptural, waterwise and easy-care plants in creative and appealing applications. Debra, an award-winning garden photojournalist, launched the popularity of succulents in 2007 with her book, Designing with Succulents. She went on to write two more Timber Press bestsellers, Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplified. During a decade of scouting and writing for Sunset magazine, Debra acquired what she calls “the Sunset aesthetic,” which she applies to everything in her books, photos, newsletters, presentations and YouTube videos (now nearing two million views). Debra’s own half-acre garden near San Diego has been featured in Better Homes & Gardens, San Diego Home/Garden magazine, Sunset and other publications. Her latest endeavor is a coloring book for adults, Sensational Succulents. Released in June, 2016, it features 75 illustrations by renowned European artist Laura Serra inspired by Debra's photographs (including many from her books). Sensational Succulents showcases an extensive array of succulents and emphasizes their melodic geometry and exquisite patterns. This beautifully illustrated book offers hours of restorative, creative fun and a fresh way to enjoy your favorite plants. Debra will be on hand to sign and sell her books all day Friday and Saturday morning.


Janet Sulis, Sunset Western Garden Collection

Janet Sluis is a Berkeley based horticulturalist who evaluates new plant introductions, and determines how best to use them in gardens. She works with breeders, hybridizers, and nurseries all over the world in search of worthy plants. Her plant collection test garden is shown in Kathy Brenzel’s latest book The Sunset Western Garden Book of Easy Care Plantings.

As a sixth generation member of a Dutch seed family, Janet suspects that plants are in her DNA. By the age of six she was hybridizing ranunculus and growing kale in her garden. After studying marketing, horticulture, and agricultural business, Sluis spent twenty years in production and product development for wholesale plant nurseries in California. When she is not traveling in search of new plants, you can find her battling slugs in her organic Berkeley test garden.


Andrea Hurd, Mariposa Gardens

Growing up in rural Oregon, Andrea’s family lived on an acre of land that supported fruit trees, berries, a large vegetable garden and many flowers, especially roses. Andrea spent her Saturday mornings, in the garden with her mom, learning how to care for it all. In college, in the early 90’s, Andrea earned her Permaculture Design Certification, and has used Permaculture as the guiding design principle in all of the gardens she has worked in and designed since. Mariposa Gardens create habitat for wildlife and food for people. In addition, water harvesting and water conservation are essential to our gardens. We strive to mimic nature in all of our designs, and work to build life in the soil, as well as above the soil. Andrea’s garden designs feature her artistic eye, as well as her love for well-built dry stacked stone work.


Aaron Ryan, Horticulturalist & General Manager for Succulent Gardens

Aaron studied biology and plant science at University of California Santa Cruz, where he worked for three years at the UCSC Arboretum. His love of succulents started at the Arboretum where he helped propagate many native succulents, including those in the genus Dudleya, and Sedum. After graduating, he spent the next five years working for various wholesale and retail nurseries throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. He also ran his own landscape design business. Before joining the team at Succulent Gardens, he worked as production manager for six years at Cottage Gardens of Petaluma. It was here where he really became immersed in the succulent world and when he first heard of Succulent Gardens, coming down on frequent buying trips.  

Julia Bell, Creative Director for Succulent Gardens

Julia Bell is the Creative Director at Succulent Gardens. As such, she's responsible for overall site planning and design, event planning, and outreach programs. Julia has been working in the landscape design business in the Monterey Bay area for the past 15 years, and is the owner of Bell & Flourish Design Collective in Santa Cruz. She has a background in botany, landscape design, and fine art, with an interest in native ecology. She pursued her formal education at UCSC, receiving a BA in Art, and BA in Biology, as well as through Cabrillo and West Valley College where she studied Landscape Design & Architecture, Horticulture, Engineering Technology, and Graphic Design. 


Kristin Scheidt, Propagation Manager at Succulent Gardens

Kristin Scheidt is the Propagation Manager for Succulent Gardens. She also operates her own design and landscaping business, Desert Mandala. She always enjoys getting her hands dirty and when she is not busy planting succulents she spends her time making pottery and climbing rocks. She is excited to start doing more seed propagation at Succulent Gardens in the future.

John Rodkin, Co-Owner of Succulent Gardens

John Rodkin is the co-owner of Succulent Gardens. He has had a long career in technology entrepreneurship and law before becoming the owner of Succulent Gardens, and when he's not working at the nursery, he runs Samsung's startup Accelerator in San Francisco and teaches at Stanford Law School.

Laura Balaoro and the Succulent Fanatics

The Succulent Fanatics are a group of, well, gardeners fanatical about succulents! They always bring gorgeous creations to display at the Extravaganza, and are quite knowledgeable about how to grow succulent plants. 


Brian & Mary Merrell, Living Creations

Brian and Mary make the beautiful redwood frames that you use for planting succulent gardens. We look forward to their demonstration table at the event.


The Monterey Bay Master Gardeners

We absolutely could not host this event without the help of the Monterey Bay Master Gardeners. They are friendly, helpful, and a great source of info for gardening in our area!
and more!

Learn more about the Monterey Bay Master Gardeners

View the whole 2016 Succulent Extravaganza Schedule