Succulent Extravaganza 2014 Speakers and Garden Designers

Tags:eventsextravaganzanursery newspeople

See the Full Extravaganza Schedule >>

Download the OFFICIAL Extravaganza Flyer >>

Kathy Brenzel

Kathleen Brenzel is garden editor of Sunset Magazine. Born in Santa Monica, she spent summers in the Pacific Northwest and learned early on to love the differences between the cool forests around Puget Sound and balmy, palm-lined canyons of home. While overseeing the magazine’s garden content, she edited Sunset’s Gardening in the Northwest, California Top 10 Garden Guide, Gardening in the Southwest, and the Western Garden Book of Edibles. Sunset’s Western Landscaping Book, which she pitched, developed, and edited, led to a nationwide franchise.
Along the way, Brenzel appeared regularly on TV gardening programs, including the Grow-It series for HGTV, House Doctor for ABC-7 in San Francisco, and The Victory Garden for public television (for which she served one season as West Coast hostess). She has lectured on gardening topics in Alaska (aboard the cruise ship Crystal Symphony), Hawaii, and at garden shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Boston. In 2000, Brenzel’s passion for Hawaii’s native and endemic plants, which she wrote about in the magazine, earned her an Environmental Journalism Fellowship at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawai, Kaua’i. In 2007, she received The American Horticultural Society's Horticultural Communication Award. This ninth edition of the New Western Garden Book is her fourth as the book's editor.

Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra has a passion for plants that drink responsibly. Not only are succulents beautiful to look at, she says “They're a great option for lazy gardeners (like me).” Debra is hardly lazy. She gardens on a half acre in the foothills of Southern CA, where temperatures range from below freezing to 110 degrees F. She grew up with succulents, has grown them for years, and as a garden photojournalist, author, speaker and consultant is keenly aware of ways to use the plants in landscapes and containers.

Debra got her start covering homes, gardens, architecture and interior design for the San Diego Union-Tribune. She went on to scout, write and shoot for major magazines. In 2005, her Sunset editor suggested that she do a book on succulents. “That changed my life!” she said. “Designing with Succulents came out in 2007 and spent 19 weeks on Amazon's list of the Top Ten Bestselling Gardening Books. The sequel Succulent Container Gardens (2010) also topped the charts. Succulents Simplified: Growing, Designing and Crafting with 100 Easy-Care Varieties was a spring, 2013 Timber Press release.”

Debra shares her photos and expertise via articles, blog posts, newsletters, workshops, YouTube videos and on her website,


Brian Kemble

Brian Kemble has been involved with The Ruth Bancroft Garden since 1980, where he currently serves as the Curator. He is highly regarded in the horticultural world and lectures in this country and in South Africa on the Agave family, Aloes, Bromeliads, the history of The Ruth Bancroft Garden and other horticultural topics. Kemble has a B.A. in Philosophy from Antioch College. His work has been in the area of horticulture since 1976, including garden design and installation, tree trimming and garden maintenance. Brian's work for The Ruth Bancroft Garden has included hybridizing of aloes, agaves, and some South American cacti. Brian has traveled extensively in Mexico and South Africa, studying and photographing plants in their native habitats.

Learn more about the Ruth Bancroft Garden.


John Greenlee

An expert in grass ecology and champion of sustainable design. John Greenlee has made meadows all around the world. His designs are featured at such notable public spaces as the San Diego Zoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, and the Getty Center in Los Angeles. John Greenlee has also created beautiful meadows gardens in private residences all over California, the U.S., including Hawaii, Morocco, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. Many of his most recent meadow creations can be found adding to the beauty of Napa and Sonoma counties.

Learn more about John on his website:


Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt, an award-winning garden photographer and speaker from Northern California, has numerous magazine covers and spreads to his credit. His photography is known just about to anyone who has looked at garden books in the past 30 years, many of which he has co-authored with garden writers, including “Hardy Succulents” with Gwen Kelaidis.  He is currently developing a series of garden photography workshops at and working to promote sustainable Western gardens at by changing the aesthetic of what we expect to see in a garden photograph.

Saxon will do a "finding the photo" walk and talk at the Succulent Extravaganza, teaching you how to up your game with garden photography. He will have books available for purchase on Friday.


Sean Stout and James Pettigrew

James Pettigrew attended S.U.N.Y. at Purchase College and studied environmental art. He has a keen artistic eye and is a master at detailing. Sean Stout attended S.M.C. and studied marine biology, botany, and zoology. He has a love of nature and, from an early age, knew he would grow up to work with plants and animals. 

Together they are a dynamic duo, creating one-of-a-kind habitat gardens. All landscape installations are undertaken with sustainability in mind and they find creative ways to use recycled materials.

Andrea Hurd

Creating art in the garden has been a part of Andrea’s life since she was a small girl.  Growing up in rural Oregon, creating artistic projects out of natural materials was a form of play.  In a high school Art History class, Andrea learned about the Earth Art movement, and became a big fan of Andy Goldsworthy.

Over the past 20 years, Andrea has practiced Permaculture techniques as well as dry stacked stone building techniques in her garden designs and installations.  As a member of The Stone Foundation, an international stonemason’s trade association, Andrea has gained training in the art of dry stacked stone building in England, Scotland, Mallorca and Cambodia.  Her knowledge of the ancient techniques of these regions gives her work strength and structure, to which she adds inspiration to the designs through her own artistic vision.

Julia Bell

Bell & Flourish offers custom ecological landscape design services on the California Central Coast. From garden-coaching and consultation to full-scale site design and installation, we will help your garden thrive! We specialize in an artistic approach to a wide range of landscape styles with concern for nature and resource conservation.

Owner Julia Bell has worked in ecological landscape design and restoration around Santa Cruz and Monterey for the past 15 years. Her background in fine art and botany fuse with a love for the California wildlands, and she sees her gardens as living sculptures as well as pieces of the greater ecosystem. The name Bell & Flourish reflects the rich collaborative process between Julia, her clients, and fellow workers, horticulturalists and craftspeople that drive each project through to a successful ecological landscape.

Julia was hooked on succulents from an early age, intrigued by their endless adaptability and variety. She enjoys incorporating them into drought-tolerant plant installations, and also a diverse array of sculptural and floral work. Our current drought has brought greater interest in and demand for reduced water use, and working with the Succulent Gardens has been a rewarding way to promote positive change in our modern landscape.

Steven Sutherland

SSA Landscape Architects has developed the design of a succulent garden that is both a painting and a sculpture. Utilizing the soil as the sculptural and three dimensional element of the garden in conjunction with succulents as the paint for the subject of a breaking wave, utilizing the vast color palette succulents provide we are able to create an impressionist vision of this iconic scene. SSA Landscape Architects, Principal, Steve Sutherland believes the possibilities for utilizing succulents to create works of art are endless from reality to abstract. SSA worked closely with Coastal Evergreen and their talented team to install and implement the design.

About Coastal Evergreen:

Regan and Niles Barry are a father and son team that co-own and operate Coastal Evergreen Company in Scotts Valley California. Coastal Evergreen is a C-27 landscape contracting firm licensed since 1981. We are a landscape and maintenance firm that serves customers in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara counties.

Our landscape division is committed to providing our clients with the highest quality installations and the best materials and trained crews to ensure customer satisfaction. We specialize in masonry, carpentry, water features, irrigation systems, lighting and a wide spectrum of planting styles and selection.


Hill and Dale Landscapes

Robert Armstrong (artist)
Living on the Central Coast since 1945 Worked as a mechanical technician. Artist: paints patterns, images, and scrambles and plays with lots of everyday materials Doing casual creek, trail and dune restoration over the past 20 years

Tim Hill
Tim Dale Hill! has lived on the Central Coast since 1972 and has been a landscape contractor for 20+ years. His artistic interests in sculpture and painting influence his work as a landscape designer and contractor, as well as his love of and concern for the natural environment. His company Hill and Dale Landscapes has won numerous awards for their gardens in multiple categories almost yearly since 1999.

Christine Watten
Christine has lived on the Central Coast for the last l9 years, and is a landscape designer for Hill and Dale Landscapes. She has a BA in Art and apart from landscape design expresses herself in painting, kiln-formed glass and ceramic sculpture. She has a great love for the California landscape, which is expressed through her oil paintings as well as in plant choices.

One of Hill and Dale Landscape's gardens was featured in the  article  'Brown is the New Green'   (Home Section of the New York Times ,March 13, 2014) as well as in the  article 'Designed for Drought' (Home Section of the Monterey Herald , March 22 , 2014

Rebecca Sweet

Rebecca Sweet is a garden designer with her design firm 'Harmony In The Garden', located in Los Altos, California. Her gardens have been featured in Sunset, Fine Gardening, Horticulture, Woman’s Day and Country Living magazines as well as many regional publications. Rebecca and her gardens have also been featured on the critically acclaimed PBS series Growing a Greener World and has also been a radio guest on numerous programs, including Martha Stewart Living.

In addition to designing gardens, she is the author of Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture and Form (an Amazon Top 10 Garden Book 2013 selection) and is the co-author of the national best-selling garden book Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces.  Rebecca also shares her secrets to successful garden design in her column “Harmony in the Garden” in Horticulture Magazine. In her lighthearted blog Gossip in the Garden, Rebecca shares inside information about garden design, gardening tips, amusing observations and how-to videos for both the novice and experienced gardener.

Simone LaJeunesse

Simone LaJeunesse has designed the Prehistoric Chillin' garden for the Succulent Extravaganza, which features the "Martiniasaurus" sculpture. She has been a gardening enthusiast throughout her life, and loves working outside. She became a Master Gardener in 1997 and started her own landscaping business The Constant Gardener 10 years ago. She specializes in working with succulents in the landscape and containers. Containers are tiny beautiful landscapes, and can be created with a countless variety of vessels. She works on the Monterey Peninsula and in Santa Cruz County area, including part time at Succulent Gardens, creating masterpieces for visitors to Succulent Gardens to take home. She teaches the Succulent Container Gardener workshop at Succulent Gardens.




Dat Pham

Dat Pham studied art history in Spain and at UCLA but has always had a horticultural interest, putting himself through school gardening for Hollywood producers, actors, and screenwriters.    He was born in Dalat, the garden capital of Vietnam, hence his company name: Dalat Gardens.    He’s designed gardens in New York, Italy, Los Angeles, Vietnam, San Francisco, and Chicago, and has done work for clients such as Vanessa Getty, Jack Dorsey, Peter Thiel, Larry Sonsini, as well has his lovely neighbor Mary who maintains the neighborhood garden, with dedication and love.   His work has been covered in Garden Design Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, California Home and Garden, and Sunset Magazine.  His approach to each garden is unique, working in a vernacular as varied as the places his wanderlust has taken him: from formal Italianate gardens, to minimal modern Zen, metaphysical gardens based on the four classical elements of air, water, fire and earth, to a roof garden grounded in addressing very real water drought issues.  Gardens are both an aesthetic and a conceptual challenge, but always has to make sense to real, human experiences.

Anita McCarty

After working in graphic arts for a number of years, Anita McCarty decided to switch careers and began working at Orchard Nursery of Lafayette for "Green Industry" experience.  After developing a strong horticultural background, she then began a small gardening maintenance business in 1995.  As this business grew and with the advent of working on a few large gardens, the emphasis of the work changed to focus on estate gardens. She will be discussing working with large Agaves and succulents.


Kristin Scheidt

Kristin (pictured right) is installing a Mandala garden among the Aloe polyphylla prior to the event. Kristin Scheidt and her mother Kim are mother/daughter co-owners of Desert Mandala, a succulent design business located in Novato, CA.  Kim's background includes retail plant store and nursery experience.  Kristin is an artist who designs containers and spaces, both in and outdoors.  We enjoy sharing our love of succulents with others.

Kim and Kristin create one-of-a-kind succulent container gardens using vintage containers such as trunks, suitcases and tackle boxes. They take their garden on the road by helping people throw planting parties in their backyards—converting ever more gardeners into succulent lovers. Learn more at their website:

Michael and Danielle Romero

Michael and Danielle will be installing an under-the-sea garden on Friday at the event. They are the owners and designers at Succulent Designs, a landscape design business in Montebello, California.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.