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GUEST COLUMN: SDHS Horticulturist of the Year 2017, Debra Lee Baldwin, visits HOY '19, Jim Bishop.

By Debra Lee Baldwin.

Recently past Horticulturist of the Year 2017, Debra Lee Baldwin visited with SDHS past-president Jim Bishop, who also is the current Horticulturist of the Year for 2019, and took so much great video footage in his garden, that she ended up making two videos for her YouTube channel. In them Jim shows his steep, one-acre garden’s six main areas: street side, courtyard, veranda, walled garden, and terraces; and his new mosaic garden with gabions. Jim also explains why—and shows how—he uses glass bottles for retaining walls.

Jim's garden is important on so many levels (no pun intended). It illustrates that no matter where you live, you’ll be a more effective gardener if you understand two key things: (1) how to replicate your plants’ native conditions as closely as possible; and (2) your own unique microclimate and how it affects plant health and vigor. Debra's own garden, for example, at 1,500 feet in the foothills, has only a few frost-free areas where she can grow tender plants like jades (Crassula ovata and cultivars). In the cliffside garden between Jim's home in Mission Hills and Mission Valley (10 stories below!), Jim contends with soil that’s mostly rounded river rocks, a northern exposure (not enough sun in winter), and fog that keeps upper areas cool and damp. “Succulents don’t like water dripping into their crowns,” Jim notes.

Debra invites her fellow SDHS members to enjoy getting to know Jim better through her videos and seeing his world-class garden, which viewers from as far away as Australia are calling “incredibly beautiful,” “inspirational,” “fun,” and “so much to see!" Members also will find helpful a new page on her website about Jim’s garden that includes a gallery of 50+ of its plants, all ID'd. As always, Debra welcomes your questions and comments!


Debra Lee Baldwin is a San Diego-based author (three bestselling books about succulents), garden photojournalist, and lifetime SDHS member. Debra's YouTube channel has nearly 30,000 subscribers and over 5 million views. Learn more on her website and—if you’ve yet to do so---register for her presentation at the San Diego Master Gardeners Spring Seminar, March 21 at 9 am.


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