Tips from a Top Container Garden Designer

– Posted in: Succulents

Melissa Teisl of Fresh Chic is the designer whose artistry I show most in my book,

Melissa and her mom, Susan, had a floral shop in Solana Beach, CA when I met them in ’07. Then Susan retired, and Melissa (with partner Jon Hawley) launched , specializing in gorgeous in-ground gardens.

But container gardens are Melissa’s first love (OK, except for Jon), so this dynamic couple—who also are in  and —spun off , CW’s boutique and container-garden division.

These photos from showcase Melissa’s aesthetic. She…

— Picks succulents in scale with their containers.
— Repeats plants’ colors and/or forms in her container selections.
— Uses lines and shapes of pots to lead the eye and frame the plants.
— Plants densely for a lavish look and uses topdressing to conceal the soil.
— Sets a container atop a table that becomes part of the composition.
— Expands her palette with non-succulents. A pink-striped cordyline adds drama to a tall pot; crypthanthus bromeliads create a wreath’s “bow.”
— Jazzes up gift arrangements with real bows of satin or velvet.

Learn more (from Melissa herself!) in my how-to .

See Fresh Chic’s succulent designs at, March 2-4, in the outdoor vendor area. Btw, social media really “likes” Melissa’s innovative, photogenic combos, so have your cell phone handy!

If you happen to be in Southern California, here’s a Free Pass to the 

Spring Home Show tickets

Come see me at the Show! I’m giving and signing , including .

Fri., March 2 at noon and Sat., March 3 at 11:00, join me in the Bing Crosby exhibit hall in the presenters’ area (southwest corner). Also enjoy display gardens by top designers. The Show’s all about helping you make your home and outdoor living spaces your own private paradise.

Don’t pay admission! Come as my guest/s. You’ll still have to pay parking, but my VIP pass for two lets you waltz right in. (Print it out and bring it with you, like you would an airline boarding pass.) Hey! It’s worth $18! 

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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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