This project was a response to some very specific needs. My clients had lost their house and most of their landscaping in the Jesusitas Fire in Santa Barbara in May 2009. They were able to rebuild using many new fire resistant features in their replacement house. I was called in to design the landscaping around the house which also required fire resistant features. I decided to use succulents even though I was just learning about them. I thought they were beautiful and could make a spectacular, fire-resistant design. Succulents also go very well with the gravel mulch required in the high fire zones in Santa Barbara and with the boulders on the property. My clients fell in love with succulents and once we discovered a good source for cactus they kept asking for more! The most exciting part of this project for me was the growing interest my clients took in the project. When I started they were exhausted from the rebuild of their house and told me to just do whatever I thought would look nice, but as the project progressed they became more and more interested and involved. Who could resist those succulents and Cacti?!
Talking with people about succulent care or observing succulent care "in the wild" has clearly demonstrated to me some of the confusion that exists throughout the world of horticulture with regard to succulent plants. Just take a walk through garden centers where highly trained nursery people are on staff. Beautifully maintained bedding plants, fruit trees, and a wide variety of ornamental plants abound, perfectly watered, fertilized, and maintained. Then seek out the succulent section. What you'll see are mislabeled, over watered, under watered and in general poorly maintained plants. I puzzled over this for many years as I was asked to help landscape professionals and retailers.