When Gwen Steege, my editor at Storey Books, asked if I would be interested in a succulent book, I could hardly believe my ears. I live in California where succulents have become a staple of gardens. Many a great fine art photographer has studied them. Their shape, colors, and form offer never-ending variety.
I couldn’t wait to start. Then I talked to the author.
The best assignments offer the opportunity to study a subject in depth, to learn and then communicate. So I was delighted to find that Gwen Kelaidis, an experienced gardener in Colorado and long time editor of the Rock Garden Society was the writer.
Gwen lives in Denver, zone 5, and told me in no uncertain terms that no photos were to be taken in California. What !? Then she explained the book was “hardy” succulents, targeted for gardeners who dealt with real winters.
In California, succulents grow big because the climate is so mild. The same succulent that might be hardy in a cold climate would grow much too large in California, so photos could be misleading. A wise woman that Gwen, acerbic, trenchant, and quite determined to make a book that would lead to success.
So, I got a travel budget and went to Colorado, to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas. I did sneak in a few California gardens such as Ruth Bancroft’s, and visited many I could not include. For research purposes of course.
Many of the those California photos, while not part of Hardy Succulents become part of The Green Wall, an exhibition of large canvas prints. More about these prints.