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Final Fall

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Final Fall

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Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

 Lengthen night and shorten day!

 Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.” Emily Brontë

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Without a doubt, autumn is a beautiful time of the year with cooler weather and spectacular, ever-changing foliage. What I can’t get used to is the early setting sun and the dark skies at 5 p.m. as we enter December. My circadian rhythm is out of sync. My preference is to work in the garden as late as possible every day and in the summer that means until 9 or 9:30 p.m. In fall and winter, my style is crimped, leaving me with long to-do lists. 

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This past week the newspaper publishers and I received an email from the editor of a DIY garden authority from New Zealand who has enjoyed reading the Digging Deep columns. She sent a link to their fall garden information that I am posting here because it includes everything you need to know about planting your fall garden and it is perfect for our location. How honored and thrilled we are to know that Digging Deep is being read in the Southern Hemisphere! Check out their guide to fall gardening. https://happydiyhome.com/fall-garden/

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Since the weather is warm and mild, it is still a great time to re-seed your lawn, cover bald spots, or seed a new lawn. I re-seeded mine a few weeks ago when the atmospheric river and bomb cyclone hit our area with force, and the grass is gloriously green and growing. I have always liked the award-winning seed, Pearl’s Premium, available in California only online at www.PearlsPremium.com.  The roots grow deeper than most seeds and the lawn doesn’t need as much water or mowing. I wrote to Jackson, the founder of the company whom I met when I was lecturing at the National Garden Communicators Conference, and asked if there was a discount that I could offer my readers. He kindly responded that he offers a 10% discount at checkout with the code BLACKFRIDAY. He was apologetic that he couldn’t offer more of a discount at this time, however, due to the wildfires and the drought, two years of his work were decimated resulting in his costs escalating to over 300%. He has seed in stock right now, but, because of the unique seeds that go into his mix, once this season is sold out, we may not be able to get any more seed for a year or more. If kept in its packaging, the seed is good for at least 18 months. Order now. Again, www.PearlsPremium.com and put in the code BLACKFRIDAY.

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Although we only have a few more weeks of fall, because of the current lovely climate, you can continue planting. My jonquils have been blooming for the past month and I continue to install more bulbs. Planting parsley either in beds or in containers is an excellent edible plant that will provide ongoing beauty as well as culinary interest.

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I’ve been harvesting my Brussel sprouts and am planting new seedlings for later harvest. If you are looking for specimens that are deer- resistant, consider Hosta, fern, coral bell, boxwood, weigela, and butterfly bush. Keep in mind that no plant is deer-proof. Succulents are available in many varieties and colors and are an excellent choice for our drought-ravaged land. 

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As we prepare for winter, we still have a few more tasks in the autumn garden to ensure beautiful spring vegetation. Since the rain, weeds have sprouted and need to be pulled as they are not only unsightly and spreading, but they will be detrimental by providing shelter for overwintering uninvited insects and contributing to disease. Pull them out while the soil is still soft and malleable. Once it hardens, the job is much tougher. Remove any dead or diseased plants as well. When substantial rain arrives, it will encourage fungus growth.

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To add more nitrogen to your beds, plant a cover crop of vetch, rye, oats, or other legumes. In the spring, dig it into the soil.  The Farmer’s Almanac encourages protecting fruit trees from winter-hungry rodents by installing a guard of fine mesh hardware around the base of the trees.

Other last-minute chores before fall falls into winter include:

ü  FERTILIZE your trees while they are dormant. Underground the roots are active and can use the nutrient boost.

ü  TAKE cuttings of coleus, pelargoniums, and geraniums before you prune them back for the winter. Put the stems in a jar of water and when they root, you can transplant them to use indoors.

ü  DIVIDE your peonies, daylilies, and bearded iris if you didn’t do it last month. Exchange with friends or find new needy places in your garden.

ü  CONTINUE reusing your gray water for outdoor container plants that won’t benefit from any rainy weather. Every drop you save is crucial as we are not out of the drought woods.

ü  PROTECT roses from extreme temperature changes by covering plants with eight to ten inches of mulch above the crown. 

ü  ADD non-breakable decorative ornaments to trees and shrubs as festive garden features.

ü  COVER frost-prone plants such as bougainvillea with burlap.

ü  CLEAN gazebos, decks, patios, porches, fountains, stairs, bricks, and other structures.

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ü  RAKE debris from gravel paths.

 

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Fall gardening is a wonderful way to reap the benefits of nature. Studies show that spending time outdoors decreases levels of the hormone cortisol, lowers blood pressure, and reduces other markers of stress. Relaxation is the reward. When you are working in the garden, you are exercising which is a critical pillar of optimum health. Going outside encourages you to get up and move. Physical activity is paramount for optimum health. With your autumn gardening duties, your mood will be elevated, especially during this hectic holiday season amidst a pandemic. Spend time in green spaces to reduce your anxiety. The magnificence of nature lowers levels of inflammation in the body. Pollution is the culprit for many illnesses including respiratory problems, cancer, and heart disease. Breathe in the fresh air and experience the awe of autumn.

As we watch the final fluttering of autumn leaves, let your garden be a natural prescription to lower your stress and heighten the excitement of the forthcoming holiday season.

Are you shopping for gifts that keep on giving year after year? Books are the answer! Purchase any of my award-winning books from www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store. Proceeds benefit the literacy, arts, and culture charity, Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 www.BetheStarYouAre.org.

You’ll receive a plethora of additional gifts with every purchase. 

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos: http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1521/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fall-out.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

©2021 All Photos Cynthia Brian

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Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Grateful Gardener

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Grateful Gardener

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By Cynthia Brian

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” Henry Ward Beecher

 

Are you feeling grateful? Although I feel thankful for every day that I walk on this earth, after such a tumultuous twenty months, this year my heart is overflowing with appreciation. Throughout these times, my garden has been my sanctuary, my refuge, and the place where I recharge. The abelia is blooming and that makes me cheerful. 

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Autumn is a splendid season with cooler weather and nature’s spectacular showcase of colorful leaves on shrubs and trees. Maple, Japanese maple, tallow, crape myrtle, pistache, liquid amber, beech, black gum, sumac, aspen, dogwood, ginkgo biloba, tupelo, red oak, and many more species are just a few of the magical specimens whose leaves metamorphose from green into vibrant red, yellow, orange, purple, crimson, brown, russet, tan, bronze, and scarlet. During the growing season, the green in leaves is a product of the chlorophyll using sunlight to manufacture sugars to feed the tree. As the weather cools with shorter days and longer nights. Biochemical changes occur allowing a painter’s palette of vibrant and muted hues. The most stunning displays happen after a succession of sunny, warm days followed by crisp and cool nights. Moisture in the soil is also a factor that can delay or speed up the color.

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I have just returned from experiencing splendid fall colors on the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. On some of the riverbanks, the tree colors were muted as if in an Impressionist masterpiece. In gardens and parks, singular specimens were neon bright as if painted by Frederick Church. 

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Before I left, my trees were only beginning to change colors. When I arrived home a few days later, the leaves had already fallen, carpeting lawn, patio, and driveway in a thick layer.

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My husband was anxious to clean up the leaves and I had to beg him to NOT put the leaves in the green bin. Fallen leaves are great for the compost pile and as a natural fertilizer for other plants. 

Here’s what you need to know about fallen leaves.  

KEEP THEM IN YOUR GARDEN!

We can reduce emissions from landfills by managing the leaves by leaving them around the root zones of plants, shrubs, and trees to suppress weeds, provide shelter for beneficial insects, maintain moisture, control temperature, and return nutrients to the soil which plants will reuse. Microorganisms help small leaves decompose quickly. Larger leaves may need to be mowed to break them up. In 2018, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over 10.5 million tons of yard trimmings were deposited in landfills, producing copious amounts of greenhouse gas. 

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Layering leaves in your landscape is also critical for wildlife habitat that benefits the ecosystem of thousands of different species. From earthworms, caterpillars, and pill bugs to toads, lizards and salamanders, leaf litters are alive with promise. Squirrels, birds, and yes, turkeys depend on layers of leaves as a food source during the winter months.

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If you have a garden service, deter them from blowing leaves into the street where drains can be clogged and water quality in waterways can be compromised. Encourage these providers to create a pile of this organic material which will naturally break down to be used as free compost in your garden.

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Since the downpour of the recent bomb cyclone and atmospheric river, mushrooms of many sorts have sprouted. It’s tempting to want to harvest fungi for a delectable holiday recipe but unless one is an expert mycologist, it is wise to purchase mushrooms from a trusted source as many of the eleven thousand species that grow in North America are poisonous and deadly.

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Persimmons, pumpkins, and squash supply part of the cornucopia of colorful edible produce that is healthy and delicious for any autumn feast. Fuyu persimmons sliced thinly add panache to fall salads and make crunchy, tasty snacks. Hachiya persimmons must be very soft, almost mushy, before they’ll release their sweetness. They are delicious as a fresh dessert or made into puddings, cakes, and breads.  Pumpkins and squash are superfoods that will boost your immunity and increase your intake of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, vitamin E. folate, fatty acids, and other micronutrients. Along with gourds, they also create stunning displays on your thanksgiving table. 

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Although many people may disagree, I am grateful for the gobblers that grace my grounds. The wild turkeys eat fallen rotten fruit, fertilize the orchard with their excrement, and respond to my attempts to talk turkey. In other words, turkeys amuse me.

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As I look out upon my fall garden, I am comforted by the tranquility, the colors of the vegetation, and the changing of the seasons. Mostly I am thankful to be alive and healthy and this year, the ability to celebrate together as a family, along with the wild turkeys, deer, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and other critters in our rural arena.

With the shopping season in full swing, give the gifts that keep on giving by purchasing any of my award-winning books from www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store. Proceeds benefit the  literacy charity, Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 and you’ll receive a plethora of additional gifts with every purchase. 

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Join 5 A Rent-a-Space and Be the Star You Are!® on Saturday, December 4th from 11-2 pm for FREE family fun at Santa Day. Enjoy hot cocoa and treats while kids write letters to Santa, take a FREE photo with Jolly St. Nick, and receive a tree ornament kit. Thanks to Mark Hoogs Team (www.TeamHoogs.com) at State Farm Insurance for sponsoring Be the Star You Are!®For more info visit www.BetheStarYouAre.org.

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Wishing you a bountiful, healthy, and love-filled season of Gratitude. Be a grateful gardener.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1520/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Grateful-gobbler.html

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

If a Butterfly Flutters…

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
If a Butterfly Flutters…

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“If a butterfly flutters its wings in Brazil, could it cause a tornado in Texas?” Edward Lorenz, meteorologist

Almost everyone has heard of the “butterfly effect”.  Originally based on weather and climate predictions, it has become a metaphor for the effects of chaos theory­­­­­­­–the concept that small events can have huge widespread consequences.  

As I was driving home from work one late October day and listening to a radio program chronicling the rapid extinction of many species on our planet, I was struck by the comment that 99.9% of Monarch butterflies have vanished from the West Coast.
Only a few years ago, I had enjoyed a glorious November morning in Pismo Beach among thousands of Monarchs fluttering through the gum trees at Monarch Grove. 

Knowing that the Moraga Garden Club had a goal of revitalizing the Monarch butterfly population with its “Moraga for Monarchs” mission, I drove straight to Rancho Laguna Park to investigate the progress of the project. I was blown away at how quickly the area had developed from barren land to a lush, organic, ecologically beneficial beauty basin. The co-founders, Julie Stagg and Bobbie Preston are quick to point out that this has been a community project of love with support not only from the members of the Moraga Garden Club, but from the Town of Moraga, St. Mary’s College, Moraga Garden Center, Moraga Park and Recreation Foundation, numerous service organizations, and wildlife experts.

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The “Moraga for Monarchs” goal is simple: repopulate Monarchs throughout town while providing public Monarch habitats, educating citizens, and providing plants to support Monarchs and other pollinators in private landscaping.

Following their lead, every gardener can easily invite a bevy of beneficials to take up residence in the garden. Their website is a cornucopia of ever-evolving information about nectar plants, milkweed gardening, building a habitat, as well as supportive plants that are currently being installed in the Rancho Laguna Park Monarch Garden.

By first planting nectar plants that bloom February through April followed by Monarch-specific nectar plants for blooming in October and November, a garden will be attractive to pollinators in all seasons. Besides butterflies, bees, birds, hummingbirds, lady beetles, bats, and other helpful insects will be darting and swooping through this nourishing landscape.

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When I visited, swaths of cosmos in several colors had grown to over eight feet high. Purple, salmon, and chartreuse zinnias shone in the sunlight. Black-eyed Susan, purple verbena, Agastache, lobelia, sage, mints, yarrow, and butterfly bush were hosting bees and butterflies, including several Monarchs. A trickling rock waterfall powered by the sun offers a sweet drink to the flyers. The water feature is flanked by a river rock dry creek that provides a sunning area for the butterflies surrounded by cosmos, zinnias, and lobelia as an artful caterpillar stands watch. Milkweed is growing to feed the caterpillars. Passionflower vines twine up the wooden pergola and wood chip paths meander throughout the plantings. Signage has thoughtfully been installed throughout the beds to instruct visitors on the species planted. The habitat is fenced to keep out hungry predators as well as people. Soon benches will be installed so that visitors can rest and watch. Volunteers maintain the garden, carefully pulling out the insidious bindweed, and lovingly pruning, deadheading, and sowing. 

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There is something magical about witnessing the flight of a butterfly as it gathers pollen on its legs and disperses it as it flits from flower to flower. Everyone can enjoy a butterfly way station next spring by planning now. If you want to erect a Monarch and pollinator oasis, check out the resources provided by the Moraga Garden Club in collaboration with the Xerces Society and Monarch Joint Venture at moragagardenclub.com/Moraga-for-monarchs.

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Here is a list of milkweeds and other plants that you’ll want to consider recommended by the Moraga for Monarchs garden.

 

MILKWEED

It is recommended to only plant California native milkweeds.

Approved for Lamorinda

·       Narrow Leaf (Asclepias fascicularis) 

·       Showy (A. speciosa) 

·       California (A. californica) 

·       Wooly (A. vesta) 

·       Heartleaf (A. cordifolia) 

Not Advised for Lamorinda

·       Common Milkweed (A. syriaca) 

·       Butterfly Weed (A. tuberosa) 

·       Tropical Milkweed (A. curassavica) 

·       Other Milkweed 

SUPPORTIVE PLANTS

·      Agastache

·      Anise Hyssop

·      Bee Balm

·      Black-eyed Susan

·      Brodiaea

·      Butterfly Bush

·      California Brittlebush 

·      Catmint

·      Ceanothus

·      Coyote Mint

·      Coral Bells

·      Cosmos

·      Echinacea 

·      Goldenrod

·      Hairy Gum Plant

·      Lavender

·      Liatris

·      Lithodora

·      Lobelia

·      Lupine

·      Meadow Blazing Star

·      Mint  (several)

·      Monkey Flower

·      Oregon Grape

·      Passionflower

·      Passion Vine

·      Penstemon

·      Rosemary

·      Salvia

·      Sage

·      Scarlet Monardella

·      Seaside Daisy 

·      Snake Lily

·      Sweet Joe Pye Weed

·      Sunflower

·      Tithonia

·      Verbena

·      Yarrow

·      Zinnia

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Butterflies may be free, but the Monarch is on the possible extinction list. We all need to do our part to save our planet by saving our pollinators. We already know that bees are dwindling and so many other critical species are endangered. Start pesticide and insecticide-free gardening habits. By being proactive with organic gardening practices and establishing healthy habitats, we will all enjoy our personal paradises while supporting our garden guardians.

I dream that when a butterfly flutters its wings anywhere, it will cause peace throughout the world.

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Nature lovers are welcome. The Moraga for Monarchs Butterfly Garden is FREE. For more information on Moraga for Monarchs or to donate, visit https://www.moragagardenclub.com

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more: http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1519/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Butterflies-are-free.html

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Propagating Plants

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Propagating Plants

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*I recommend that all bachelors have a garden. It will give them the experience of being a parent.”  Richard Goodman

One time when I was the celebrity garden guest on an HGTV program, the discussion turned to relationships and family. My advice was like Richard Goodman. I announced that relationships and parenting are like gardening. They require being present, constant nurturing, detailed attention, consistent efforts, and sometimes sacrifice. If you can grow a plant, you can grow a relationship.

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We parent for a lifetime. A garden is forever evolving.

Autumn is the best time to plant. The temperature is usually a bit cooler, yet the soil is warm.  Hopefully, a bit of rain will also provide precipitation.  During this season, I encourage more people to become plant parents. The secret is to get going now before the first frost.

There are so many easy and inexpensive ways to get started.  You can grow in containers, on windowsills, even in cardboard boxes. You can buy seeds, bulbs, seedlings, or full-grown plants. Or you can get plants for free by propagating them yourself, with a little help from your friends.

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If you are a beginner, start small so that you don’t get discouraged. Since growing our own food is empowering and nutritious, perhaps start with containers of your favorite herbs or vegetables. Soil is the most important aspect of growing a successful garden. Great garden soil is full of organic matter and crumbles like cake in your hands. According to the Home Garden Seed Association, rich soil is the home of an array of organisms, bacteria, fungi, and insects. It drains efficiently, yet it still retains essential water for the plants. They offer these tips to determine if your soil is ready to accommodate plants. 

1. Take a handful of your garden soil and squeeze it. It should hold its shape. Then drop it. It should crumble. This is optimum.

2. If it stays in a ball or falls apart the second you open your hand, you need to add compost to correct the poor drainage. The point is to assist your soil in retaining water and nutrients. Work about three inches of compost into your existing soil, then try the experiment again.

You can buy bags of garden soil, potting soil, and compost. If you are planting in a pot, make sure to purchase new potting soil which has the necessary nutrients to help your plants flourish.

If you are buying plants to boost your autumn curb appeal, simple-to-grow suggestions include pansies, ornamental kale, snapdragons, chrysanthemums, primulas, violas, and Iceland Poppies. 

My favorite way of birthing new vegetation is through propagation. Many of the specimens in my garden have been slips, cuttings, seeds, divisions, roots, bulbs, or pinches from my mom’s, sibling’s, or friend’s gardens. A garden is to share and there is nothing more satisfying than growing floras derived from a beloved garden.

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Here are ways to become a plant parent or grow your current plant family for little or no cost. In the botanical world, we call it sexual propagation or asexual propagation.

Sexual Propagation

Seeds: 

Be a seed saver. Save seeds from your favorite flowers. Because of random pollination by a variety of insects, the baby may differ from the mother. My favorite seeds to save from my flowers are nigella, sunflower, hollyhock, cosmos, nasturtium, calendula, marigold, and lavender. I’m scattering the nasturtium this autumn and the rest will be sowed in the spring. In my potager, I collected the seeds of arugula, sugar snap peas, pole beans, and Swiss Chard. If you saved these vegetable seeds from your summer crops, sow them now. I have grown numerous trees from seeds (and pits) including magnolia, Asian Pear, apple, plum, peach, flowering cherry, Japanese maple, pistache, and loquat. When you gather the seeds, dry them on a screen and place them into a brown paper bag. Label with the date and store in a dark space until you are ready to sow.

Asexual Propagation

This is also called vegetative propagation because the vegetative parts of the plants are used: stems, leaves, roots, and organs. 

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Cuttings, pinches, and slips: Soon I’ll be pinching my geraniums and pelargoniums. After letting the cuttings harden off for a few days, they will be planted directly in the ground throughout my hillside in sunny areas.  Every year in February, I hard prune my many rose bushes. I gave over a hundred cane cuttings to my neighbor and within three months, she had a glorious blooming rose garden. Pinch a small piece of a succulent and it will grow in a pot or the ground. My prolific grapevines are the result of cuttings from our Napa vineyards.

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Dividing: Using a garden fork, divide daylilies, Bearded irises, Bergenia, peonies, astilbe, bleeding hearts, Oriental lilies, Naked ladies, and other perennials that are getting too crowded. Rhizomes that are divided such as Bergenia and Bearded iris, can be cut into smaller pieces and planted. Many bulbs multiply including Naked Ladies and daffodils. By digging up a few, you can greatly increase the blooms in your landscape. I started with one Naked Lady (Amaryllis Belladonna) bulb and now boast a blanketed slope of hundreds. 

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Rooting: Kids love rooting in water in a jar and putting the jars on a windowsill. Sweet potatoes, green onions, ginger, avocadoes, and lettuces can be sprouted in this manner. The ones you buy in the vegetable aisle can be used, although they may not produce as abundantly as ones from a garden center.

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My preferred method of growing potatoes and sweet potatoes is to cut chunks with an eye or two, let them harden for a couple of days, then plant in a cardboard box placed in my potager with compost-rich soil. By planting them in the box, I always know where to harvest. The cardboard box decomposes adding to the mulch.  Layering cardboard in your raised bed before adding the soil is also an environmentally friendly system to suffocate weeds. Ginger can be grown similarly, however, let the sliced pieces of ginger soak in water for twenty-four hours after cutting and before planting.

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Grafting, budding, and layering are other ways to propagate plants but if you want exact clones, investigate tissue culture techniques. Whatever way you decide to be a plant parent, you will be rewarded. If something doesn’t work, don’t worry. Failure is fertilizer. Put the mistakes on your compost pile and grow a new garden.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1516/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Plant-parenthood.html

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Happy parenting. Happy gardening. Happy growing!

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

Starry, Scary Night

Posted by presspass on
0
Empowerment
Starry, Scary Night

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“Starry, starry night

Flaming flowers that brightly blaze

Swirling clouds in violet haze.” Don McLean

In 1889, post-impressionist, Vincent Van Gogh, painted one of his most memorable paintings, The Starry Night, as he looked out of his asylum east window. On October 10, 2019, when I looked out our east window, the starry night was aglow with flames and they were not the brightly blaze of flaming flowers. Normally, I look forward to the month October because of the frivolity of Halloween. Costumes, candy, scarecrows, black cats, ghosts, ghouls, jack o ’lanterns, and trick or treating offer children a scary evening of amusement. It was a scary, scary night, but it was not Halloween.

The power was off and a fire erupted racing down the hill to a neighborhood fast asleep. Firefighters were swift and efficient evacuating the community and containing the inferno. Police officers assisted in maintaining peace and safety. Fortunately, all structures were saved and no injuries were incurred, thanks to the professional first responders. Gardens and landscapes survived the blaze with only a few fences being torched. 

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What homeowners need to know to be more fire-safe:

The area where I live in Northern California is rural, wooded, with minimal escape routes. Many of the plants and trees growing throughout our area are highly flammable including pines, cypress, cedar, fir, bamboo, acacia, juniper, Pampas grass, rosemary, ivy, arborvitae, miscanthus, and eucalyptus. Coyote brush, although moderately fire-resistant when it is young and green, is highly combustible as it grows. It depends on fires to regenerate and grows everywhere in our hills.  All of these plants need to be removed or carefully supervised. Since heat moves up, fire speed and severity is stronger on slopes where vegetation management is crucial.

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Autumn is a prime time to prepare your landscaping for the next season and create a defensible space around your property. A defensible space is an area around a structure that has been cleared of ignitable debris and botanicals that may cause a public safety hazard. No plant is fireproof. Under the right conditions, every plant will burn, especially those that are drought-stressed or not maintained.  A “fire-safe” plant means that it tends not to be a significant fuel source in itself with a chemical composition that resists heat and combustion. It is critical to keep plants around our homes well tended and pruned as a fire protection tool. The closer plants are to the house, the more care is needed. Every homeowner is responsible for managing their vegetation to meet Fire District requirements. 

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Neighborhoods are encouraged to form a committee to receive advice from local fire professionals on how to be Fire Wise. Being Fire Wise is dependent on the diligence of everyone in a neighborhood to keep property fire safe. Fires do not honor property lines. All properties become indefensible when one neighbor has overgrown bushes, brush, or low hanging trees.

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What makes flora highly flammable?

  • ϖ Dry and dead leaves, twigs, branches
  • ϖ Abundant, dense foliage
  • ϖ Needles
  • ϖ Low moisture foliage
  • ϖ Peeling, loose bark
  • ϖ Gummy sap
  • ϖ Leathery or aromatic leaves
  • ϖ Content of terpene, oils, or resin
  • ϖ Dry uncut grasses

What makes flora reasonably fire-resistant?

  • ϖ Hardy, slow-growing plants that don’t produce litter or thatch.
  • ϖ Drought tolerant natives with internal high water content. Generally, but not always, California natives are more tolerant of fire and deer.
  • ϖ Trees with thick bark that restrict the growth of invasive shrub species and hardwood trees such as walnut, cherry, maple, and poplar are less flammable. Deciduous trees and shrubs are more fire resistant because they have higher moisture content when in leaf, lower fuel volume when dormant, and usually do not contain flammable oils.
  • ϖ Supple, moist leaves with little to no sap or resin residue.
  • ϖ Low growing ground covers.
  • ϖ Bulbs with dried leaves cut to the ground.

What can you do now to create a more fire-resistant landscape?

  • ϖ Include pavers, bricks, pavement, gravel, rocks, dry creek beds, fountains, ponds, pools, and lawns. 
  • ϖ Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground with a low sap and resin content
  • ϖ Plant the right plant in the correct location. Leave space between plants.
  • ϖ Minimize the inclusion of evergreen trees within thirty feet of structures. Clear the understory. Keep trees twenty feet away from chimneys. 
  • ϖ Remove invasive species or swaths of flammable plants including ivy, rosemary, broom, coyote brush, chamise, and juniper.
  • ϖ Keep mulch moist. Create zones of rock, brick, or gravel. Bark and leaves are not mulches recommended near structures.
  • ϖ Prune trees 6-10 feet above the ground to hinder fire laddering.
  • ϖ Keep appropriate clearance to reduce the threat of burning embers from decorative features such as gazebos, fences, sheds, porches, and junk areas.  
  • ϖ Irrigate and maintain all flora, lawns, and hillsides. Clover, groundcovers, and grasses that are kept low and green are excellent alternatives. 
  • ϖ Due to soil erosion, bare ground is not recommended.
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Having had warning of the looming PGE blackout, I had deeply irrigated my entire garden and hillside. An alert from EBMUD instructed that in a power outage, water must be used judiciously, so as a pre-emptive measure, I watered my landscape thoroughly, soaking the grass, shrubs, mulch, trees, and fences. Throughout the summer, thrice, I had weed-whacked the tall grass surrounding my property and that of neighbors, pruned low hanging tree branches, and a week before the fire I had, thankfully, cut the dry perennials to the ground. These are steps I encourage all homeowners to undertake. Maintaining our landscaping is a never-ending task mandatory for both our pleasure and protection. 

Let’s participate in keeping the fire-breathing dragon away! Enjoy a safe and scary evening of Trick or Treating under the starry skies!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Halloween!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1318/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Scary-scary-night.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. 

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Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

 

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Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

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