2015 Succulent Extravaganza Speakers & Presenters

We are thrilled to have a large group of talented professionals and volunteers participating in the 2015 Succulent Extravaganza! Here's a little more about each of our presenters.  

View the whole 2015 Succulent Extravaganza Schedule


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 and has appeared in gardening magazines, 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. 

Baylor Chapman, Lila B. Design


Baylor Chapman is the founder and principal designer of Lila B. Design, a San Francisco floral and garden design studio named for her grandmother. Her work has been featured in Sunset, Brides, the San Francisco Chronicle, Gardenista.com, ApartmentTherapy.com, and StyleMePretty.com, among others. She will be speaking on a variety of topics at Succulent Extravaganza, including her new book, The Plant Recipe Book



Saxon Holt, Saxon Holt Photography & PhotoBotanic


Saxon Holt is a lifelong gardener who worked as a commercial photographer until 1985 when he discovered the gardening market and could no longer stay indoors. His work has been featured in diverse publications from Architectural Digest and Pacific Horticulture Magazine, to Smithsonian and MoneyMagazine along with most major book publishers, as well as calendars, newspapers, and note cards. He licenses his garden photography stock photos at PhotoBotanic.com where he also teaches garden photography and contributes to a Learning Center on the art of garden photography.His recent books The American Meadow Garden, a collaboration with John Greenlee (Timber Press) and Hardy Succulents, a collaboration with Gwen Kelaidis (Storey Publishing) have been recognized with Silver Medals for Outstanding Book by The Garden Writers of America. He continues to develop new books, projects, and galleries. He's currently building the Summer Dry library and resource center at summer-dry.com, the go-to source for information about gardening in summer dry climates.

Debra Lee Baldwin, Author 


Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored the Timber Press bestsellers Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified. She specializes in showing how to use sculptural, waterwise and easy-care succulents in a wide range of creative and appealing applications. Debra fine-tuned her perspective on design during years of working with Sunset magazine. Her own half-acre garden near San Diego has been featured in Sunset, Better Homes & Gardens and other publications. Australian nurseryman and author Attila Kapitany, addressing the Cactus & Succulent Society of America, said he attributes "the growing interest in succulents among the gardening public in the US primarily to one person: Debra Lee Baldwin.” Debra will be on hand to sign and sell her books all day Friday and Saturday morning.


Janet Sulis, Sunset Western Garden Collection

Low Water Companion Plants for Succulents

From grasses to perennials and even shrubs, see which low water plants play well with succulents, while keeping lush and beautiful gardens and containers. Learn where to look for water savings in your landscape, and check out some of the hottest new plants we are playing with in the Sunset test gardens.

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.

Brian Kemble, The Ruth Bancroft Garden

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.

Sean Stout & James Pettigrew, The Organic Mechanics

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.



Steve Sutherland, SSA Landscape Architects

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.


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.


Hill and Dale Landscapes

Robert Armstrong (artist)
Robert Armstrong has lived on the Central Coast since 1945. He worked as a mechanical technician as well as being an artist who paints patterns, images, and scrambles and plays with lots of everyday materials. He has done casual creek, trail, and dune restoration over the past 20 years.

Tim Dale 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


Aaron Ryan, Grower for Succulent Gardens

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, Desert Mandala

Kristin Scheidt (pictured, right) 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. 

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:



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 2015 Succulent Extravaganza Schedule