2018 Succulent Extravaganza Speakers & Presenters

We have a large group of talented professionals and volunteers participating in the 2018 Succulent Extravaganza! Here's a little more about each of our presenters.  

View the whole 2018 Succulent Extravaganza Schedule > 

Brian Kemble, Curator at the Ruth Bancroft Gardens

Brian Kemble has been at The Ruth Bancroft Garden since 1980. He is highly regarded in the horticultural world and is a prolific writer and lecturer on botanical topics, especially relating to succulent plants. Kemble has a B.A. in Philosophy from Antioch College, and he began concentrating on succulents soon after moving to San Francisco in 1971. Brian's work for The Garden has included hybridizing aloes, agaves, gasterias and some South American cacti. Brian has traveled extensively in Mexico, Madagascar and southern Africa, studying and photographing plants in their native habitats. His gardening column “On the Dry Side” appears in several newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, and his photos have been published in numerous books on succulents.  (www.ruthbancroftgarden.org)


Robin Stockwell, 'The Succulent Guy,' Founder of Succulent Gardens

ROBIN STOCKWELL, 'THE SUCCULENT GUY,' FOUNDER OF SUCCULENT GARDENSRobin 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). 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. Robin recently completed his first book on succulents, aptly named, Succulents, the Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Designing and Growing 200 Easy-Care Plants, published by Oxmoor House.  In between trips with his wife and family and frequent surfing outings, he continues to speak about succulents.  ( www.thesucculentguy.com)


Janet Sulis, Sunset Western Garden Collection

JANET SULIS, SUNSET WESTERN GARDEN COLLECTIONJanet Sluis is a Berkeley based horticulturist specializing in low water, regionally appropriate, easy care plants. As the collection’s curator, she is responsible for selecting and evaluating which plants are ultimately chosen to carry the Sunset Western Garden Collection label. Focused on replacing thirsty, labor-intensive varieties with colorful, resilient alternatives, she works with breeders, hybridizers, and nurseries all over the world. Her plant collection test garden is featured in The Sunset Western Garden Book of Easy Care Plantings, and can be visited in person as part of the Sunset test gardens located in iconic Cornerstone in Sonoma, California.

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, she spent twenty years in production and product development for large wholesale plant nurseries on the west coast. When Janet is not traveling in search of new plants, you can find her pulling weeds and battling slugs in her organic Berkeley test garden.  (sunsetwesterngardencollection.com)

Laura Eubanks, Design for Serenity

LAURA EUBANKS, DESIGN FOR SERENITYLaura Eubanks, founder and CEO of Design for Serenity, is an award winning landscape designer and innovator of The Succulent Topped Pumpkin and The Succulent Tapestry. She has an international reputation and has traveled the world installing her signature designs, leading workshops and speaking to gardening groups. 

Her Succulent Tip of The Day videos have generated millions of views on YouTube and inspired thousands of gardeners to be fearless when working with their succulents! Laura is married to her high school track coach, Greg and they have four adult children and one new grandchild, affectionately referred to by her followers as The Succulent Baby.  (www.designforserenity.com)

Aaron Ryan, Horticulturalist 

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. It was at Cottage Gardens in Petaluma, where he really became immersed in the succulent world, and when he first heard of Succulent Gardens, coming down on frequent buying trips. He now lives in the North Bay with his wife and daughter. 


Jason DeWees, Flora Grubb Gardens

JASON DEWEES, FLORA GRUBB GARDENSAuthor of Designing with Palms (Timber Press, 2018), Jason Dewees is the horticulturist and palm expert at Flora Grubb Gardens, in San Francisco. He has consulted on palm collections of the Conservatory of Flowers, UC Botanical Garden, and San Francisco Botanical Garden, trained volunteers and docents on the palm family, grown thousands of palms from seed, planted palms in gardens, consulted with gardeners, landscape architects and designers on using palms in the landscape, and lectured on palms.

Jason joined the Northern California Chapter of the International Palm Society as their youngest member in 1986 and offers a very local point of view on palms for Central California climates.


Caitlin Atkinson

CAITLIN ATKINSONCaitlin Atkinson grew up in a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, where she acquired a love of light and land. Her photographs of gardens, still life and interiors are infused with this appreciation of the natural world. Her work has appeared in national magazines: Elle Decor, Garden Design, Dwell, Martha Stewart Living, Metropolis Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Harpers Bazaar and Sunset Magazine. She wrote and photographed Plant Craft: 30 Projects that Add Natural Style to your Home (Timber, 2016). Atkinson photographed the soon to be released Dry Gardens: High Style for Low Water Gardens (Rizzoli 2018), Designing with Palms (Timber, 2018) and Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias (Timber, 2014). She has contributed photographs to numerous books, including: Succulents: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Designing, and Growing 200 Easy Care Plants, Designing with Succulents and The New Sunset Western Garden Book. She continues to live and garden in California, drawing inspiration from gardens, nature, history and art.  See more of her work at: www.caitlinatkinson.net Instagram:@mscaitlinatkinson

Mariposa Gardening & Design


Andrea Hurd (far right)

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.

Julia Bell (second from the right) 

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. Julia has been collaborating with Mariposa Gardening & Design Cooperative as a Designer and Worker-owner. She has been excited to join forces with fellow artistic women-owned, ecological business leaders designing, teaching and supporting regenerative landscape techniques around the CA Central Coast.  (www.mariposagardening.com)

Organic Mechanics 

ORGANIC MECHANICSSean Stout and James Pettirew are the creative forces behind Organic Mechanics, a full service landscaping company. They specialize in sustainable design and construction and organic maintenance. They have have won numerous awards and have been featured on radio, television, newspapers and magazines.  (www.organicmechanics.com)


Allana Childs 

ALLANA CHILDS Allana recently graduated from California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo with a degree in Horticulture and a minor in Biology. She was the Lead Succulent Grower at Cal Poly where she learned about propagation, design, and identification.

Currently, her favorite succulent is Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ for its glowing pink margins. In her free time she enjoys identifying California native plants while hiking in Santa Cruz county.

Don Cravalho

DON CRAVALHOMy Horticultural started in 1972 at the historic California Nursery in Niles, Ca. My interest in succulents increased with my friendship with Robin Stockwell. I began growing Epiphyllums about 25 years ago, selling them at the local plant society shows.

Today, Epiphyllum World has a regular presence on E-Bay, offering a section of Epiphyllum cuttings and plant to customers throughout the U.S. Epiphyllum World is based in Fremont, Ca. my nursery grows over 1,000 different varieties. The Fremont location at 4440 Decoto Rd. Fremont, Ca. is open Monday and Tuesday by appointment. You can also find Don at Regan Nursery where I work at my regular job.


John Rodkin, Co-Owner of Succulent Gardens 

JOHN RODKIN, CO-OWNER OF SUCCULENT GARDENSJohn 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.

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 2018 Succulent Extravaganza Schedule