Great Repetitions at Steven’s Gardens

– Posted in: Succulents


At the Laguna Beach Garden Club recently, a young woman came to the book-signing table, introduced herself, and invited me to a nearby nursery where she works. I took her up on it mainly  to see the succulents, and didn’t expect such an impressive array of pots. Big ones, little ones, vivid ones, pale ones, and everything in between. Plus ceramic orbs, for which there seem no purpose, other than to do the same thing in the garden as glass globes (which I don’t understand either).


Since it’s easy to get great shots of multiple pots, I fell into photo mode. As you look at these, don’t just think “pots,” think “repetition.” It’s an essential component of design, whether you’re creating a garden, accessorizing an outfit, or composing a photo. Above: Venerable pepper trees rise above the nursery.


The location is Steven’s Gardens in Mission Viejo (vee-AY-ho), CA, but that only will benefit you if you’re within driving distance. I’m pretty sure they don’t sell mail-order…unless perhaps you want to pay shipping on a pot too heavy to lift.


I love the way the late-afternoon light illuminated these containers.


Look at the rich blue and purple glazes! But to be honest, I think cobalt is one of the most difficult colors to design with. The principle of repetition doesn’t apply; no plant is this color. You have to go with the second most important design principle, contrast. That means, plants with leaves or flowers that are the color complement of blue: orange. If that’s not possible, go with chartreuse, red or yellow. The point is to use plants that offer the same intensity of hue as that of the pot.


Did you think I was showing you exotic cocktails? I’m not sure how I’d use these, but I like their color, especially combined with that magenta bougainvillea.


The nursery has an impressive array of fountains. Can you hear the splash of water?


This was one of the more ostentatious fountains. Welcome to Italy.

OK, on to the succulents…


The quality of the plant material is impressive.


My new friend May does a lovely job of combining succulents in containers. She has a few to choose from!


So what do you think? I hope you will look for ways to use repetition and contrast to enhance your photos and garden. Nature does it best; this last photo embodies both design principles in a solo aeonium rosette, also seen at Steven’s.



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Debra Lee Baldwin

Debra Lee Baldwin

Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
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