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In Praise of Farmers By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
In Praise of Farmers By Cynthia Brian

“Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” Daniel Webster

With so many luscious fruits and vegetables at their peak of perfection in August, the prospect of the perfect meal awaits! Ripe and juicy nectarines, peaches, apricots, Asian pears are devoured right off the tree, or drizzled with olive oil to be grilled on the barbecue. Tomatoes, peppers, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, blackberries, melons, and beans offer the promise of culinary creativity as we harvest yet another bushel. Farmer’s Markets tender the very best of the season, a good reason to stock up on freshness and quality to freeze or can for the winter months.

But have you ever pondered the labor involved from the farmers behind the superior produce you discover at the Farmer’s Markets or in your local grocery aisle?

Throughout my teen years, I worked in the fruit cutting sheds along with my two sisters where we would half and pit apricots, peaches, and pears, laying them on wooden flats to be sun dried, packaged, and sold. For years afterwards I couldn’t eat any of these three fruits because of the memories of the dirty, exhausting work in the hot summer sun. We were paid by the fifty pound lug of fruit cut, with apricots earning us about twenty cents a box containing two hundred or more “cots”. Peaches and pears paid half as much because they were bigger and therefore, less fruit was packed in a lug. Cutting peaches was the nastier job. The peach fuzz stuck to our skin as the juice ran from the peach pit to our armpits. When the gong rang at 4:30pm indicating that our nine-hour shift was terminated, our itching bodies would dash home for a shower. If we had earned $20 for a full day’s work, we were considered in the top one percent of farm employees.

Although the work was tough, when I reminisce about those farm day experiences, I am grateful for the manual labor of my youth. Whenever I purchase a fruit or vegetable that hasn’t grown in my personal garden, I am filled with appreciation for the toil of the farmers and the laborers who have worked rain or shine for many seasons to bring these crops to market. These hard working people are the unsung heroes of our lives.

My Daddy was one of those men. Farming was a career that demanded attention 365 days a year. He could work for several months only to have a complete crop and his one annual paycheck devastated by rain or pests or drought.  When he was asked why he didn’t like to gamble he’d retort that being a farmer meant that every day was a gambling day. He didn’t have to go to the tables to wrestle with Lady Luck.

From the time my siblings and I could toddle, we worked the fields. As our age and abilities grew, we were given more responsibilities. By eight years of age, we all drove tractor, plowed the vineyards, picked fruit, and worked the harvest. We always new where our food came from because as farmers, we planted, weeded, watered, tilled, mowed, hauled, mulched, fertilized, pruned, sprayed, protected, harvested, then started the process all over again prepping for the next season of crops.

There have been surveys done around the world asking children to explain from where their food came. Responses in the United States included that cucumbers come wrapped in plastic, eggs come from cartons, peas are found in the freezer, and chocolate milk is from brown cows. Recently, twenty-seven percent of Australian kids in their final year of primary school believed that yogurt grew on trees while seventy-five percent thought cotton socks came from animals. In England, 1/3 of the country’s children thought fish sticks came from pigs or chickens, tomatoes grew underground, potatoes grew on bushes, and cheese was raised on plants. More disturbing was the majority of children stated that everything originates in the supermarket.  Unfortunately adults didn’t fair much better in surveys. These statistics reflect poorly on the intelligence of citizens in first world countries.  We need to do better with educating our public of where our food is grown, how long it takes to grow, and the hazards that farmers face.

America was an agrarian society until the early 1900’s. Now we are a technology focused country. As of the last census, only one percent of Americans are farmers. I commend the schools where gardening is part of the curriculum.  We can all become more appreciative of the growing cycles when we become knowledgeable and even more so when we become home farmers ourselves. We have the responsibility to involve our children in the growing process by giving them the opportunity to plant, water, and tend to fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Besides being a superb science lesson, children will develop an appreciation for farm freshness and feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment. An added benefit is children enjoy eating what they grew. Thankfully, there has been a renaissance in learning the skills of canning. Baking pies from scratch is becoming fashionable again. As a child, “putting up” our fruits and vegetables for winter consumption was a fun family affair, one I passed on to my children, and hope that one day they will pass it on to their progeny.

The next time you bite into a peach–fresh, dried, or canned, say a little prayer of thanks for the extraordinary efforts that went into its development. Farmers are the foundation of our civilization and we need to honor and respect their art. It’s time we get back to our roots.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Nature Guide

Allow Asian Pears to ripen on the tree. When the skin color changes from green to yellow they are ready for picking. Fruit can be stored at room temperature for two to three weeks and up to six months in refrigeration.

Super Star Vegetables: Kale has been on the popular healthy vegetable list for several years. In the near future, you’ll start seeing more publicity around beets and cauliflower. Packed with vitamins C, K, and B 6, cauliflower can be roasted, mashed, steamed, or eaten raw. Beets have anti-inflammatory properties, lower blood glucose, improve muscle power, and aid heart health. Plan on planting all three this autumn.

Order or be on the look out for bulbs of garlic, shallots, and onions for fall planting.

Warning: Coyotes are getting bolder. In less than a week, I came within ten feet of a coyote on my driveway at 9 am and another ambling down Camino Pablo near the school around 3:30pm. Neither of these large carnivores were frightened by me. Keep your small animals and children safe. My article “Rats, Rattles, and Voles” (https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1111/Gardening-Guide-for-August-Rats-rattles-and-voles.html) increased the conversation concerning wild animals around our homes. Readers reported an increase in skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, deer, moles, voles, rats, mice, and snakes around homes. Although these critters were here before we settled, we do need to be vigilant to protect ourselves.

Win $50,000 for your Garden:  Enter America’s Best Gardener Contest. Grand prize is $50,000.  I am honored to have been chosen as a judge. Show the world that your thumb is the greenest. http://www.americasbestgardener.com

Pre-Order my forthcoming garden book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Book I in the Garden Shorts Series. Publishing was greatly delayed but copies of the book will be shipped by September.  All pre-orders will receive extra goodies such as heirloom seeds, bookmarks, and more. Book is $14.95 for black/white interior. Price for color interior photos has not been determined yet. Email me for details, Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com. 25% of the proceeds benefit the 501c3 Be the Star You Are!® charity. http://www.GoddessGardener.com/

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1112/Digging-Deep-Gardening-with-Cynthia-Brian-In-Praise-of-Farmers.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Available for hire for any project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

Rats, Rattles, and Voles By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Rats, Rattles, and Voles By Cynthia Brian

“There’s a snake lurking in the grass.” Virgil


10 rattles! Diamond pattern on the skin. This was no gopher snake!

I was checking my orchard on the hill agonizing over the gopher mounds when I saw the slithering snake. Excited to know that I had a friend in the rodent business, I quickly ran to get a closer look.  Dang! Not a gopher snake but crotalus oreganus oreganus-northern Pacific rattlesnake. I was wearing my normal summer gardening gear-shorts, bathing suit top, cowboy hat, and boots.  Not exactly the suggested outfit for wrangling a rattler.  As I was counting the number of rattles, he/she slinked into the rosemary bush bordering my vegetable garden.

It’s been over five years since I’ve witnessed a rattlesnake on my property.  According to the experts, because of the wet winter and now the dry summer, rats, mice, gophers, and voles are ubiquitous, which means that their hunters are in abundance as well. This season I’ve had several gopher, garter, and king snakes as wanted guests. Rattlesnakes give me the shivers.

Every summer growing up on our ranch in Napa County meant a meeting with at least fifty or more rattlers. I’ve stepped on a few in the past and a couple snaked over the top of my boots. Fortunately neither I, nor anyone in my family has ever suffered a bite. Rattlesnakes are the only pit viper found in California.  All are poisonous and potentially dangerous.  They kill their prey with their venom as opposed to constriction. Babies are born fully developed with one rattle and are even more potent than adults.  The rattles on the end of the snake’s tail are used as a warning system, alerting predators or humans to stay away. Every time the snake sheds, a new rattle is grown. Rattles can break off, and to the unaccustomed bystander, a snake without rattles may resemble a gopher snake. Without proper identification, never handle a snake in the grass. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and don’t usually strike unless provoked, however, since they seek warm-blooded prey, a human could be mistaken as food.

Rodents are inundating homes and gardens this year in search of water and food.  Wherever rodents race, snakes that eat rodents follow.  I discovered a terrific trap that zaps rats and mice dead. It’s called The Rat Zapper and it works like a charm.
For gophers, box traps and black hole traps work best. The moles are normally looking for grubs in a lawn and don’t do much damage. I just stomp down on their ridges.  Voles, also called “field mice” or meadow mice” are bad news as they target the root systems of vegetable gardens, lawns, and fruit orchards. They will gnaw at the trunks of trees and shrubs, chew blades and stems of grass, and eat bulbs. They often use empty mole or gopher burrows as their runways.  Voles reproduce rapidly leading to mass destructions of landscapes. Snap traps are best to catch these critters when they exit their holes.

The best protection to minimize the rodent infestation is to invite their natural predators– owls, hawks, and yes, snakes.  A family of barn owls will hunt and eat up to a thousand rodents a year. Consider installing a nesting box for owls. The hawks fly with the wind currents to find the rodent restaurant. Most snakes to visit our gardens are not venomous, yet, all snakes can bite and should not be handled. King snakes are my very favorite snake to have in a garden because they kill rattlesnakes.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife suggests the following precautions since rattlesnakes do not just reside in rural areas. We live in hill country with plenty of open space, creeks, and trails. Rattlesnakes are here. Pay attention.

⎫ Be alert when walking in a park, golf course, or riverbank.

⎫ Wear sturdy boots and don’t wear flip flops when hiking. Stay on the trail and don’t wander into the brush. Inform your children to stay with you.

⎫ Avoid tall brush, woodpiles, and underbrush. Snakes often hide during the heat of the day, then, come out at dusk and dawn to hunt.

⎫ Check your sleeping bag when camping, step on rocks and logs instead of climbing over them.

⎫ Watch where you step when leaving your house or a building. Rattlesnakes often stretch out at door thresholds.

⎫ Rattlesnakes swim. Don’t grab onto floating sticks or branches when swimming anywhere, including your swimming pool.

⎫ Don’t put your hand into a place you can’t see. Don’t weed under bushes unless you’ve rattled the area.

⎫ A dead rattlesnake is still venomous. The head needs to be buried.

⎫ If you have a dog, talk to your veterinarian about getting the canine rattlesnake vaccine. For small dogs, it doesn’t always work, but for a large dog, it could be life saving.

⎫ Hire a snake wrangler if you find an unwanted snake. Check online.

In case of a rattlesnake bite, call Poison Control immediately at 800-222-1222 and get to the nearest emergency room. Stay calm, remove rings, and don’t try to suck the venom, cut the wound, tourniquet the bite or ice it.  Most rattlesnake bites are accidental, but all are very dangerous, and can be fatal.

I still haven’t found my rattlesnake but I am being extra cautious, especially when weeding, wearing my boots, gloves, and carrying a sharp shovel.  As much as I despise rats and other rodents, a rattlesnake is not a welcome serpent in my summer paradise where I prefer to be barefoot and bikini clad!

Enjoy the summer and join me in my dance to stay clear of the rats, rattles, and voles!

Cynthia Brian’s Summer Tips:

The following plants are repellents to gophers and moles. Plant them in areas of infestation.
Rosemary
Marigold
Oleander
Penstemon
Catmint
Salvia
Strawberry
Daffodil
Castor Bean

Garden Events

⎫ If you will be in Europe in September you may want to visit the spoga+gafa, the world’s leading garden trade fair September 3-5 in Cologne, Germany with over 2000 exhibitors from 60 countries. http://ow.ly/pBxP30dA88D

⎫ The World’s Pure Food Fair and National Heirloom Expo happens in Santa Rosa September 5, 6,and 7 with three day tickets only $25. Heritage poultry, music, seeds, fruit tastings, dahlia show, colossal pumpkins, and more. http://www.theheirloomexpo.com

⎫ Closer to home, Moraga Gardens Farm, a non-profit volunteer membership garden, 1290 Moraga Way, Moraga between the fire station and School Street grows many varieties of pesticide free, organic vegetables including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, chard, fruits, and herbs. Watch for demonstrations, lectures, and sales. https://moragagardensfarm.org

Blooming Beautiful!
Roses
Gladioli
Firecracker Plants
Snapdragons
Magnolias
Petunias
Pelargoniums
Geraniums
Daisies
Yarrow
Hollyhocks
Osteospermums

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1111/Gardening-Guide-for-August-Rats-rattles-and-voles.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener will be available this month!
Hire Cynthia for your next project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

Talking Dirt By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Talking Dirt By Cynthia Brian

You’re not a realist
unless you believe in miracles.
~Anwar Sadat

“Forgive me! I’m recovering from the holiday weekend but I need your help for the summer!” wrote a gardening client. The singular American summer festivity of Independence Day is a time for people to gather, celebrate, travel, and spend treasured moments with family and friends. Picnics, barbecues, swim parties, parades, concerts, and, of course, fireworks are the highlights of the 4th. As homeowners prepare their patios, porches, and backyards for the forthcoming celebrations of the summer season, I’ve been busy consulting with clients on how to improve their landscaping.

The number one problem in the gardens that I visit is the quality of the soil. Long ago my Daddy told me there is a difference between dirt and soil. We can be dirt rich and soil poor. Unfortunately, many gardens are filled with lots of dirt and very poor soil.

Mother Nature is a miracle worker, yet, it’s up to those of us who till to create the vision and set the groundwork for her to do her real work. In order to grow a healthy and beautiful garden, the richness of our soil is paramount.  Just as we wouldn’t build a house without first constructing a solid foundation, we can’t plant a garden unless healthy soil is in place. Over the years, times of droughts or seasons of heavy rainfall deplete the nutrients in our soil. When our fruit trees are not producing or our flowers aren’t blooming we question why this is happening. My first response is to gaze at the ground. When was the last time you added compost? Do you mulch regularly and fertilize when needed? Have you had your soil tested? Do you need to purchase clean soil?

I am a big proponent of having new, fresh, enriched soil delivered every few years to enhance the condition of the dirt. Home gardeners can have their dirt tested for a fee from a variety of labs across the United States to find out about the physical contents, contaminants, and chemicals. With this information, you’ll be able to optimize the growth of your plants and diagnosis any soil-related issues. Here is a sampling of places in California that you can contact. Visit their websites for more information or call to find out what is required.

A & L Western Laboratories, Inc.
Modesto, Ca. 95351
www.al-labs-west.com
209-529-4080

Control Laboratories
Watsonville, Ca. 95076
www.compostlab.com
831-724-5422

Dellavalle Laboratory, Inc.
Fresno, Ca. 93728
www.dellavallelab.com
800-228-9896

Fruit Growers Laboratory, Inc.
Stockton, Ca. 95215
www.fglinc.com
209-942-0182

Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery
Sebastapol, Ca. 95472
www.harmonyfarm.com
707-823-9125

Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply
Grass Valley, Ca. 95945
www.groworganic.com/soil-health.html

Soil and Plant Laboratory, Inc.
San Jose, Ca. 95128
www.soilandplantlaboratory.com
408-727-0330

Test results of soil samples may indicate an excess of salts, improper nutrient levels, too high or low PH, or problems with the soil itself. With the guidance provided by soil testing, gardeners will be able to fertilize properly and amend your dirt, creating the soil for optimum growing.

Dig in the dirt! Amend the soil. Miracles will appear.


Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide

HARVEST garlic. Dig the heads out with a spade. Don’t just pull on the stems. Move the garlic out of sunlight immediately to a shady, dry area such as a porch or a garage where circulation is good.  (My garage smells like a delicious Italian kitchen!) Garlic cures best with the leaves on. Don’t wash your garlic or scrape the dirt off of the bulb. .  Either lay flat or gather the stems into bunches to hang upside down to dry.  Braiding works with softneck garlic. Curing will allow you to enjoy your garlic into winter. You can eat the garlic immediately as well.  Save a few of your biggest heads to use as seed garlic for planting in the fall.

PLAY a lawn game that is new to you. How about the beanbag toss game, Cornhole, or the ring toss similar to horseshoes called Quoit? If you are not too adventurous, stick to croquet and bocce!

PROLONG the life of lemons by filling a jar with water, adding the citrus, and covering tightly. The fruit will last longer than in the refrigerator and the jar makes a pretty counter display. Limes work the same except they require refrigeration.

REHYDRATE wilted vegetables by placing them for fifteen minutes in a large bowl of cold water.

PICK carrots at their prime when they are still young, thin, and sweet. The bigger they get, the stringier and tougher. Carrots don’t need to be peeled. Scrub and go.

GATHER seeds from faded nasturtiums and four o’clocks to replant wherever you want more plants. Nasturtiums are beautiful cascading over a retaining wall or climbing a trellis while four o’clocks open their blooms in the afternoon at…surprise…4pm daily.

CUT rose rosettes to dry for a fragrant and elegant potpourri display.

WATCH for butterflies, especially yellow swallowtails. They are so intent on the flowers that they appear unafraid of the camera lens.

PICK plums and prunes.  Large crops may cause branches to break. Food banks welcome fresh fruit when you have extras.

ENJOY the bounty of fruits and flowering trees and shrubs of July.

SWIM and have fun in the sun this summer. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1110/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Talking-Dirt.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Available for hire for any project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

I’m a Flower Child! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
I’m a Flower Child! By Cynthia Brian

“If you’re going to San Francisco…Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair” written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, sung by Scott McKenzie

In the summer of 1967 over one hundred thousand young people descended upon San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, and the Haight-Ashbury area to experience a season of love, peace, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.  The Summer of Love, as this counterculture revolution was called, celebrated with free concerts, performances, protests, and flowers.

I was never a hippie, but I’ve always been a flower child. This month as we reminisce about fifty years of the “make love not war” movement, I put on my beads, headband, rose-colored granny glasses, and wore flowers in my hair as I planned the July Gardening Guide.  No drugs are necessary to enjoy a euphoric trip down memory lane when the garden is brimming with colorful and edible specimens…magic mushrooms excluded. A romp on the wild side was a fun diversion as I plucked my first juicy tomatoes while watching the iridescent wings of the yellow swallowtails flutter between the violet blossoms of thyme and the budding tomatillos.

Bees are swarming the lavender and rosemary gathering nectar for their honeycombs. Because of the heat, I continue to rescue bees and ladybugs that have landed in my fountains. My clematis is chock full of large deep amethyst hued blooms glittering in the sunlight. Pink and white striped morning glory zigs and zags through the golden euphorbia, opening with the sunrise and closing at sunset. Not to be outdone, deep pink sword lilies, commonly known as gladioli, have unfurled their ruffled one-sided spikes amidst the blush Bonica and Dolly Parton roses. The kaleidoscope combination of forms, textures, shades, and scents throughout the landscape add a mesmerizing jolt of joy to each moment.

When I’m ready to relax, I only have to venture into my orchard where the daisy-like florets of the chamomile make for a calming tea, especially enhanced with a squirt of juice from my tangelos. Another excellent medicinal tea is made from foraging for red clover, a wild perennial rich in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. The red or pink flowers have a mildly sweet flavor and are often used to ease stomach discomfort or menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. The leaves taste like alfalfa sprouts and can be tossed into salads along with dandelions, sautéed, or added to soups. If I’m in the mood for something a bit stronger, it’s always fun to muddle the mint into a mojito or mint julep!

Soon the fireworks of the Fourth of July will be flaring filling the night sky with the exploding whirls and swirls circa a 1960’s acid-dropping experience. Go into your garden, pick a few blooms, and wear flowers in your hair. If you are a gardener, you are a flower child. Welcome to s beautiful summer of love! Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July

⎫ MINIMIZE back strain by keeping your back straight not hunched while planting or weeding. Avoid twisting and reaching overhead. ⎫ CREATE walking paths with gravel, stepping stones, or bricks throughout your landscape so that you never compress the soil of your planted beds by walking in them.

⎫ SUPPRESS weeds, retain moisture, and keep a consistent temperature in your soil by adding four inches of compost or mulch around your plants. No need to turn under the compost or mulch.

⎫ PICK tomatoes just as they form a hint of color allowing them to ripen on your countertops. This prevents them from being eaten by birds and insects. Never refrigerate tomatoes as they lose their flavor.

⎫ GET FREE recycled water, up to 300 gallons per trip, from Central San. Visit www.CentralSan.org. You’ll need to fill out an application and bring your own containers. Central San notes that water is very heavy at eight pounds per gallon and is not to be consumed or allowed into storm drains.

⎫ CLEAR away weeds, grasses, dead vegetation, limbs, pine needles, leaves, and debris from all areas around your house to safeguard your home from embers. It’s fire season and we need to be vigilant to reduce fire fuel laddering.

⎫ CUT a bouquet of roses for a punch of stimulation. Sunset colors are perfect for summer.

⎫ DECORATE your dinner parties with edible flowers including pansy, elderberry, calendula, chamomile, clover, daisy, nasturtium, rose, snapdragon, and violets. Most herb and fruit tree blossoms are also edible including apple, banana, basil, chives, citrus, peach, pea, pear, pineapple guava, pumpkin, radish, rosemary, sage, squash, sunflower, and thyme.

⎫ IRRIGATE early in the morning or late evening. Remember to water deeply and less frequently.

⎫ DEEP soak redwoods and magnolias before signs of stress appear or their roots will surface.

⎫ EMPLOY successive planting techniques to continue your crops of lettuce, radish, carrots, and greens. Every three weeks, plant more seeds as you clip and harvest for continual fresh eating through autumn.

⎫ REPEL pests and predators while attracting beneficial pollinators by planting aromatic herbs including rosemary, basil, cilantro, sage, fennel, and thyme.

⎫ ORGANIZE a flower power photo scavenger hunt. Provide a list of ten unusual specimens growing in your garden. Invite friends to find and photograph them for a special prize, perhaps a pot of petunias or a basket filled with gardening tools.

⎫ CONGRATULATE yourself on being a gardener. You are an authentic flower child. Enjoy a safe and electrifying Independence Day! Happy birthday America! Embrace your free spirit, dance under the stars, and salute the sunshine as you relish a stellar summer of love. Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1109/July-Gardening-Guide-Be-a-Flower-Child.html Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 Are1® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener will be available soon! Hire Cynthia for your next project.   Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com 925-377-STAR

Uprooting and Transplanted By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Uprooting and Transplanted By Cynthia Brian

“What you plant now, you will harvest later.” Og Mandino

It’s the time of year when kids are excitedly looking towards the play-filled days of summer while parents are wondering how they will juggle all of their children’s activities-swim meets, fairs, camps, baseball tournaments, concerts, and, possibly a move. During the summer, many people are uprooted and transplanted to another location. Sometimes the disruption is just across town and sometimes it is across the country or across the globe.

It’s challenging and often a shock to our systems getting settled, making friends, and building a new garden. When plants, trees, and shrubs are moved, they also go through an instance of distress. It doesn’t matter if they are being moved from one part of the garden to another or across the continent to a new home, as directors of our landscapes, we have a responsibility to give the transplants a good foundation for their new environs.  Spring, early summer, and late fall are traditionally optimal times for this transition.  Follow the suggestions below for a successful uprooting and transplanting experience.

Transplanting Tips: When we transplant seedlings, trees, shrubs, or other plants, they experience shock. To diminish the negative effects of being moved, these easy steps will help provide strength and adjustment to the new environment.

1. Prevent shock effectively by gently uprooting. Dig up as many of the roots as possible and don’t shake the dirt off. Refrain from cutting roots, unless a plant has been root bound.

2. To strengthen the plant, cut it back about 1/3 and make sure to remove any flowers, dead leaves, or dying limbs. This will help the plant regenerate more quickly without exerting extra energy. Don’t over prune or you’ll worsen the effects of shock.

3. Provide clean, nutrient rich soil for the transplants. Buy bags of topsoil or potting soil, depending on where you are transplanting.

4. Before transplanting, boil eight cups of water with eight tablespoons of sugar. Stir and allow cooling to room temperature. Before putting the roots in the new soil, pour two cups of this liquid on the transplant.  Save two cups for each plant after the transplant. This recipe is good for two plants. Increase recipe to make as much as needed.

5. Dig a large enough hole for the transplant as a major cause of shock is placing a plant in too small of a hole and not providing enough water.

6. After planting in your new location or container, pour the remaining two cups of sugar water on the plant.

7. Water the transplant thoroughly. This helps the roots settle into the new soil.

8. Monitor water on a regular basis. Proper watering is essential for rapid recovery.

9. Wilted, shriveled, scorched, rolled, curled, or yellow leaves are indicators of shock.  An immune system booster for transplants is to treat with aspirin water. Smash two or three aspirins in a gallon of water. Trickle water on your plants to increase plant health.

10. Add three to four inches of organic mulch around the plants to reduce symptoms. Mulch will insulate the plant, maintaining a consistent temperature while prevent erosion.

11. Continue to water deeply yet be diligent not to drown the roots.

12. Give the plants time to recover and settle into their new home. Have patience. It’s shocking to be uprooted!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide o WATER deeply and less frequently. As summer approaches our gardens will be thirstier. By watering deeply, you encourage strong roots. If you want to use a hose and sprinkler, buy a water timer that can be attached to a hose bib. Price is only about $23-30 and will save you time, money, and waste. o GROW roses on your patio or deck in containers where you have plenty of sunlight. Use high quality soil and tree rose of your choosing for blooms and beauty all season long. Cover a mailbox with a climbing rose to increase your curb appeal. o SNIP the tops off mint to enjoy in multiple refreshing uses including salads and mojitos.

o SPREAD the seeds of Love in a Mist after they have finished blooming. The seed pods can be crushed and shaken in areas where you want more flowers next year.

o PRIVACY screens are all the rage in neighborhoods. Prune privets to a height and width you want for a quick green fence or plant clumping bamboo. (This bamboo does not get out of control or tear up your concrete)

o GIVE the gift of living plant to your graduate. With care, a plant will be a constant reminder of your ongoing love.

o PROTEST water rate increases by writing a letter to let EBMUD. Send to EBMUD, MS218, PO Box 24055, Oakland, Ca. 94623-1055

o CELEBRATE Dad on Father’s Day. A well-made tool or herbs for his barbecue marinades could be right up his alley.

o WATCH for mosquito larvae in birdbaths and other still water. Empty water from all containers or add animal safe Dunks.

o WIN $50,000 for your Garden:  As a judge in America’s Best Gardener Contest, I encourage you to enter your best garden photo. The top prize is $50,000. Wish I could enter! http://www.americasbestgardener.com

o Harvest what’s ripe and ready: • Mulberries (you may have to battle the birds) • Cherries (Ditto to above) • Wild Plums • Nectarines, • Kale • Mints Enjoy our final days of spring. Summer sun and fun is quickly approaching. Congratulations to all of our graduates and a very Happy Father’s Day to all the great daddies. Kudos to you all. Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1108/Digging-Deep-11-Tips-for-uprooting-and-transplanting-gardens.html Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 Are1® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener will be available soon! Hire Cynthia for your next project.   Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com 925-377-STAR

Rooms of His Own By Cynthia Brian

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Rooms of His Own By Cynthia Brian

The only limit to your garden is at the boundaries of your imagination.”
Thomas D. Church

From the street, the white ranch style house of Michael Curtis belies the magnificence waiting to be discovered beyond the garden gates.  A collector of all things cast off and cast iron, Michael converts salvaged junk into artistic architecture that transforms his garden into an alluring adventure of discovery.

His grandfather founded L. N. Curtis and Sons Fire Protection and Emergency Response Equipment in 1929 and throughout Curtis’ life he has accumulated firefighting memorabilia.  Michael’s father introduced him to collecting rocks, minerals, glass, and old bottles as they explored abandoned mines and ghost towns together.  As a boy, one of Michael’s favorite jaunts was hiking the railroad tracks where he’d pick up discarded telegraph insulators. When he’d find anything that was made of cast iron, he was especially excited. All of these treasures were stored and as he traversed the globe as an adult, he added to his compilation. His heartfelt dream was to one day create a secret garden where all of his unusual trinkets would dance with the most colorful flowers in perfect harmony.

With his love of the English countryside, his first home boasted an English cottage garden, complete with an authentic red phone booth. In 2001, he moved that phone booth along with his beloved remnants from his industrial revolution fascination to a small house on an acre of land filled with diseased and dying trees.  After removing fifty-five Eucalyptus, Michael enriched the soil, and without any written plan or design schematic, began work on his inspired masterpiece using his vision and intuition as guides.

Smooth stones lead through a lush lawn to the iron arbor covered in the sunset oranges and reds of Joseph’s coat and flanked by white Alba tree roses. Chimes, bells, and hummingbird feeders dangle from the arch while a variety of birdhouses perch on poles, nesting birds darting in and out.  Rows of telegraph insulators lining the path are accentuated by two hand painted manhole covers, gifts from a trip to Japan.  With the flip of a switch, the insulators illuminate like Christmas lights.

Color is a driving force in the garden and the combination of textures and forms is mesmerizing. Michael built brick retaining walls and planters, filling them with an enormous diversity of rainbow flora including camellias, roses, impatiens, lilies, Daphne, birds of paradise, gerbera daisies, lobelia, salvia, pansies, violets, canna, petunias, daisies, lavender, foxglove, nasturtium, and a variety of bushes, boxwoods, and shrubs. The tranquil sounds of cascading water emanate from the nine fountains scattered throughout the property. Whether one turns right or turns left, an eclectic wood or metal gate directs attention to a divergent garden room sectioned by a growing privet fence and festooned with artifacts from Michael’s escapades to estate sales, fairs, salvage yards, and years of walking the rails. He even built a tree house from reclaimed barn wood adding a ladder, an antique loggers saw, and vintage signs discovered in the Gold country. An abandoned test missile rests against the fence awaiting its proper placement.

Gazing balls and a rusted butterfly grace the formal rose garden with the pièce de résistance being the round stepping stones Michael crafted using a wine barrel ring, concrete, colored glass, rusted tools, horseshoes, and other discarded items that captured his fancy.  Fire hydrants, water pumps, street placards, and railroad warning signs dot the landscape as well as inspirational messages.

The result is whimsical, magical, playful, and most of all, timeless.

Although his garden is uniquely his refuge, what Michael adores more than anything is sharing his garden rooms with friends. With a glass of wine in hand, he graciously guides while explaining the stories behind every artifact and every plant. Of course, if one wants to meander alone, he encourages the exploration. There is no worry about getting lost in this maze as every gate has a unique bell so that he can tell where anyone is at any given moment.

I attempted to glean a bit of gardening advice and came away with these tips:
1. Let your unique vision and your imagination be the driving force of a garden design. There are no limits.
2. Anything is art. Display your collections in an appealing manner to evoke conversations and questions. What may be trash to someone else could be a treasure to you.
3. Let color be king. Don’t be afraid to razzle dazzle and mix it up.
4. Add grace and relaxation with water elements. Fountains are fabulous.
5. Do the unexpected. (Who would think about showcasing an English telephone booth, a man-hole cover in the garden or adding lights to telegraph insulators?)
6. Offer shelter and food for the birds. You can never have too many birdhouses.
7. Don’t be afraid to try new plants. If you like it, plant it. If it grows, great. If not, move on. Planting is pure pleasure.
8. Create garden rooms, not just garden beds.
9. Welcome your loved ones to share your oasis with a glass of wine for walking.

Before I left this enchanted setting, I asked Michael what his plans for the future entailed. Since his right hand helper, Tony, will be retiring next year, he said he is contemplating selling this personal paradise.  “Won’t you be sad to leave all this beauty behind?” I queried. “Yes, but it’s time for me to be off on a new world quest,” he retorted.

At that moment, I could imagine him dashing to the end of the arbor pathway, entering his red English phone booth and, like other super heroes, flying off to rescue another forlorn and forgotten garden.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more at: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1107/June-Gardening-Guide-Rooms-of-His-Own.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Available for hire for any project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

The Magic of May By Cynthia Brian

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The Magic of May By Cynthia Brian

The Magic of May

By Cynthia Brian

“Harmony makes small things grow.
Lack of it makes big things decay.” Sallust

By mid May Mother Nature has waved her magical wand sprinkling glitter and glory among her growing children. No matter where you look, shrubs, trees, and landscapes showcase a beauty and harmony that set this month apart from the remaining eleven. Herbaceous peonies are budding and will bloom for weeks offering outstanding companionship to mixed perennial gardens. Glorious bouquets of roses decorate pathways and arbors. Fields of bearded iris brighten the most mundane areas with their multitude of colors, gentle fragrance, and graceful arches. Horse chestnut, buckeye, and locust trees are overflowing with grape-like bunches of blooms. Get up close to examine the intricacies of their flowers.

The warmer weather has sped up the blooming season while only a month earlier the cooler weather slowed it down. My waves of bright blue forget-me-nots have settled into a sea of seeds that attach to any clothing that ventures near easily spreading the flowers to places unplanned. Along the creek beds, even the poisonous hemlock weeds sprouted several feet taller than in previous years with attractive clusters of flowers resembling Queen Anne’s lace. Tiny Alpine strawberries are red, ripe, and delicious as snacks or in salads. Better to eat these than any store-bought strawberry. Thanks to the unparalleled Pearl’s Premium grass seeds, my lawn has never looked so lush and lovely. If you want turf that is tough, drought resistant, low maintenance, and beautiful, start thinking now about preparing your ground for an autumn seeding of Pearl’s Premium. (www.PearlsPremium.com)

The Old Farmer’s Almanac recently contacted a colleague garden writer asking about what tools, products, and plants gardeners sought most this year. She posted a request for suggestions on our member community site and I reveled in the answers that I believe resonate with you, my garden guide readers. Here’s my abbreviated version of what we gardeners want.
1. We crave information that we can use on a daily basis.
2. We want to grow our own food for better nutrition and first-rate freshness.
3. We want to save money.
4. We want to bring pollinators into our gardens for an organically friendly habitat. We are putting out the welcome mat for birds, bees, butterflies, and bats.
5. We want to reduce waste by composting more.
6. We want tools that are sturdy, long lasting, yet not exorbitantly expensive.
7. We want to explore simpler to use, more environmentally friendly power tools that are battery powered and strong.
8. We want space saving ideas including container and vertical gardening techniques.
9. We want to learn to prune properly.
10. We want low maintenance, native alternatives, and drought resistant plants.
11. We want to ENJOY our garden rooms!

The wants of the national garden community echo locally as well. My promise to you is to continue to bring you the latest tools, tips, and tricks that will make your garden experience extraordinary.

CLEAN and DIRTY PRODUCE

In my opinion, one of the main reasons to grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs is to know what is in your soil and on your plants. The USDA discovered 178 different pesticides on sample produce this year with the residue persisting even after the produce was thoroughly washed. Strawberries topped the list with over 20 different pesticides, one of the main reasons I grow my own strawberries and Alpine berries.

The cleanest and therefore the healthiest produce included:
1. Corn,
2. Avocadoes
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Onions
6. Peas
7. Papaya
8. Asparagus
9. Mangoes
10. Eggplant
11. Honeydew Melons
12. Kiwis
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Grapefruit

Pesticide residues are extremely rare on “The Clean Fifteen” so these are items that we can buy and serve without worry.

Known as “the Dirty Dozen” here’s a list of the worst produce culprits you can purchase:
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Peaches
6. Celery
7. Grapes
8. Pears
9. Cherries
10. Tomatoes
11. Bell Peppers
12. Potatoes

Sadly, all of these fruits and vegetables are family favorites and generally considered to be healthy. Luckily we can easily grow all of these and if you don’t want to grow your own, make sure to buy organic.

Speaking of dirty, let’s get really dirty! In a year when we are finally out of a drought, reservoirs are filled to capacity and overflowing, EBMUD wants to raise our rates for both water and wastewater services! If you received a notice of a public hearing from the East Bay Municipal Utility District, read it carefully. Write a protest letter to let EBMUD know that you do not want higher rates. Send to EBMUD, MS218, PO Box 24055, Oakland, Ca. 94623-1055 or you can protest in person on Tuesday, June 13 at 1:15pm at 375 11th Street, Oakland, Ca. 94607.

I am vehemently opposed to another water hike when we have all been so diligent in saving and conserving water for the past several years. Our water rates are already untenable. Let EBMUD know you are against all rate increases. Give us a break, EBMUD!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Tips

⎫ TUNE UP your irrigation system. Check for sprinklers that aren’t working, bushes or fences that are blocking sprinkler heads, broken pipes, clogged nozzles, leaky hoses and valves, and sprinklers that are spraying driveways and walkways.

⎫ MULCH for water retention and weed prevention. Three inches is recommended. Your soil will improve over time as well.

⎫ TAKE breaks while gardening to protect your back and knees.

⎫ PLANT summer blooming bulbs and seeds. There are over one hundred different choices of bulbs and two hundred perennials.

⎫ IMPROVE memory, lower cancer risk, and promote your heart health by planting a container of blueberries. Easy to grow as a patio plant, one serving provides 25% of your daily Vitamin C requirement.

⎫ WIN $50,000 for your Garden:  As a judge in America’s Best Gardener Contest. I encourage you to enter your best garden photo. The top prize is $50,000.  http://www.americasbestgardener.com

Avoid decay and continue the harmony every day. Enjoy the magic of May. Have a magnificent Memorial Day weekend, too!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1106/Digging-Deep-The-Magic-of-May.html

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Available for hire for any project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR

Dream a Little! By Cynthia Brian

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Dream a Little! By Cynthia Brian

 


“Be at War with your Vices,
at Peace with your Neighbours,
& let every New-Year find you a better Man.”
Benjamin Franklin

jer,marcia,cy, brian-new years
Resolutions, goals, a fresh start. Does January bring out your best efforts in wishful thinking as you embark on a new year or do you have the stamina and mindfulness to actually fulfill your gardening dreams? The famous English gardener and writer, Vita Sackville-West, wrote: “The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before.”  Although Vita died in 1962, her gardens at Sissinghurst survive as a national treasure, thriving with seasonal beauty and tender care from volunteers. I was fortunate enough to travel the grounds last year and marvel, even in the rain, at the expanse of her horticultural involvement. Vita’s quote definitely describes my personal gardening mantra as my motto has always been “Failure is fertilizer. Throw the mistake on the compost pile to grow a new garden.”  In other words, mistakes, or malfattis as we say in Italian are always an experiment in something new…and maybe even a better creation. I don’t rest on my bay laurels but keep on striving.
sissinghurst fall garden
One of my favorite global excursions is to visit gardens everywhere I travel. Exploring gardens, great and small, is a wonderful way to expand one’s horticultural intelligence while gathering ideas for one’s own plot. At the top of my resolution list for 2017 I’ve designated garden hopping as a must-do. In the past few weeks, I’ve had numerous emails from readers of this column with questions, comments, and aspirations as well as ambitious dreams for gardening in 2017.  Here are ideas you may wish to employ this year as you dig a little and dream a lot!
hydrangeas, roses
⎫ Get your children and grandchildren engaged in gardening activities. Virtues, skills, and life itself are learned in the garden.
⎫ Be brave. Experiment more. Worry less. There are no brown thumbs.
⎫ Plant more seeds to watch the wonder of sprouting.
⎫ Grow more vegetables and herbs in your pots or potager for a healthier plant to plate palate. Consume, share, preserve to eliminate waste.
⎫ Photograph your garden often and keep records of what blooms when, what works where, and what you want to edit.
⎫ Install a water-saving irrigation system.
⎫ Donate extra produce to a food bank.
⎫ When time is limited, hire help.
⎫ Compost, compost, compost. (see composting recipe below)
⎫ Visit botanical gardens wherever you travel.
⎫ Encourage pollinators to take up residence by planting and offering habitat that attract them. Birds, bees, bats, hummingbirds, and butterflies are precious protectors.
⎫ Eliminate insecticides and pesticides. Research companion planting.
⎫ Mulch more to reduce weeds, keep the soil warm or cool depending on the weather, and stop soil erosion.
⎫ Take a class to expand your knowledge.
⎫ Be more realistic.
⎫ Find interesting outdoor accents to use in the landscape like vintage windows, doors, or Victorian gazing balls.
⎫ Add one or more water elements.
⎫ Start saving special seeds.
⎫ Propagate from cuttings.
⎫ Plant a garden or pots in a patio for the first time.
⎫ Add a new rosebush.
⎫ Plant a cutting garden for creating beautiful bouquets year round.
⎫ Sow a path of fragrance with lavender, jasmine, honeysuckle, or other sweet-smelling shrubs.
⎫ Become more aware of the natural world by paying attention to the sounds, smells, and sights.
⎫ Make your garden drought tolerant with succulents.
⎫ Resolve to utilize organic gardening methods.
⎫ Begin keeping a journal of your outdoor endeavors.
⎫ Use tropical plants indoors as air purifiers as well as décor focal points.
⎫ Enjoy your garden more, slave less. Spend at least 15 minutes every day admiring your beautiful handiwork in conjunction with nature.

Since getting in shape or losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution that is rarely kept, remember that gardening provides an excellent workout with the digging, tilling, weeding, raking, mowing, moving, planting, and climbing. Plus gardening is great fun.  My hope for you is that you will adopt one or more of these tips as your gardening promise for the year. Be enterprising. Do things better than you ever did before. Be optimistic. Be the STAR you are.
drying flowers for potpourri
As we take a moment to reflect on the past and look forward to the future, share your gardening dreams for 2017. Email me, Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com.
garden door.jpg
Cynthia Brian’s Garden Guidelines for January
⎫ Compost Recipe: Keep a bucket with a lid on it in the garage or other storage area to fill with your kitchen scraps, shredded newspaper, coffee grinds, tea bags, fish bones (no meat products), and egg shells. Dump daily in an outdoor bin or pile. Add leaves and other brown materials, grass and plant clippings, and garden waste. Keep moist. Turn often with a spade or pitchfork. When the material looks and feels like a damp chocolate cake mix with an aroma of the earth, spread in your beds.
⎫ With the flu and colds that seem to be ubiquitous, make sure to keep lots of citrus on hand, especially oranges and lemons which have a high concentration of vitamin C, citric acid, calcium, iron, fiber, and B complex vitamins. Squeeze lemon juice on salads, vegetables, meat, and, of course, in your water to keep you hydrated. Even cut flowers benefit from drops of lemon juice in the vase, helping the water to travel from the stems to the flowers. Scatter the peels on any acid loving plants in your garden including roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, and fuchsias as a natural fertilizer.
⎫ It’s time to do your heavy pruning on your roses. Cut out any dead wood. Prune roses to about knee height. Although many people assume that roses are fussy, they really are quite tolerant providing months of luscious blooms.
⎫ Buy and plant bare-root roses, berries, vines, and fruit trees now following the instructions on the packaging.
⎫ Spray an application of dormant spray on peaches and other fruit trees to kill overwintering insects.
⎫ Peruse catalogues for ideas for spring and summer flowers.
⎫ Make fragrant potpourri from cut flowers.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing! Happy, Healthy, Auspicious New Year!

Dig a little, dream a lot!

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©2017
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
StarStyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

Romp in Ruth Bancroft Gardens By Cynthia Brian

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Romp in Ruth Bancroft Gardens By Cynthia Brian

 

ruth bancroft 108 years, cynthia brian

“Who cares if I’m not around? If I don’t plant it, then nobody will get to see it!” Ruth Bancroft

Since as long as I can remember I have always said that I wanted to live to be 108 years old. Why I chose that number I have no idea as I had never met anyone who lived to be 108…until this week when I met Ruth Bancroft, creator of the Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek. Ruth turned 108 years young on September 2nd and I was privileged enough to celebrate her birthday with bubbly and her favorite chocolate cake in her masterpiece dry gardens that she began planting in the 1970’s.

Ruth’s gardening passion began as a child in Berkeley. When she moved through the tunnel to Walnut Creek she became a collector. Her efforts, trials, tribulations, and experiences along the way are chronicled in the new Timber Press book, The Bold Dry Garden, penned by Johanna Silver, the garden editor of Sunset Magazine, and photographed by Marion Brenner. With the entire West coast on drought alert, the Ruth Bancroft Gardens are a model for low-water plantscaping. If you have ever been curious about succulents, cacti, yuccas, and other desert plants that will flourish in the East Bay, this beautiful book will become an essential reference guide.
pond-ruth-bancroft-gardens
Our local water company states that water use was 24% less in 2015 than it was in 2014, saving enough water to fill the Oakland Coliseum seventy one times! As homeowners rip out lawns in favor of xeriscaping, we’ll focus on the benefits of adding low maintenance, low water use plants, and planting them NOW to your garden.
cycad
Although I have a lifetime of gardening experience, I’m not sure that I will ever become an expert in any one area of horticulture, as gardens are living, breathing, evolving, growing entities that are constantly changing.  What I adore about Ruth’s garden is this consistent evolution. Each time I visit a new vista or display greets me, even from the same specimens as the first visit. The colors, textures, and sizes are in perpetual motion from California natives to the canopy of trees, the rosettes of terrestrial bromeliads to the swords of the yuccas.
ruth-bancroft-gardens-2
Here are a few of Ruth’s prized collection that you can grow in your garden for your benefit and that of your great grandchildren’s children .

Aeoniums: One of the most popular plants of all of the succulents, aeoniums have lovely fleshy rosettes that will reach towards the heavens, mound in purgatory, or cascade towards hell. They prefer a bit of shade and are easy to cultivate and grow in the ground and in containers.

Yuccas: These sword shaped plants are native to the Americas and the Caribbean and like hot, dry regions. In their natural habitat they are pollinated by the yucca moth.  Although yuccas are grown mostly for ornamental use, many species use the seeds, flowers, stems, and sometimes the roots for food and medicine.

Echeveria: Many of the most beautiful small succulents are echeveria, often confused with aeoniums because of their rosettes. Their leaf colors are brilliantly hued and they boast flowers in red, orange, white, yellow, purple, and pink.  They grow well between rocks and are a terrific ground cover or garden filler.
Most echeveria species hail from Mexico.

Sedums: A hardy perennial with thick, fleshy leaves and stems and clusters of pretty flowers, sedums are most popular for ground covers, borders, and rock gardens.  They require minimal to no care at all, are easy to propagate from cuttings, and are drought resistant.

Aloe: The best friend plant for anyone with a sunburn, cut, or bite, aloe is known as nature’s soothing succulent. Aloes relieve itching and irritation on the skin, reduce redness and swelling by inhibiting the body’s release of histamine. In a garden, aloes bloom in bright colors of red, orange, and yellow with over 500 species ranging from tiny to tree height. These unfussy favorites are a “must have” in any garden or container.

Agave: With over 200 species native to the Americas, agaves are diverse in colors, shapes, sizes, and spines.  Agaves are sculptural. They can be a focal point in a landscape or can mix well with other plantings. Before planting an agave, make sure to read the label to determine the final size of the plant. Some agaves have a full- grown diameter of 13 to 14 feet while others remain small and compact.  
barrel-cactuses
Barrel Cactus: Always armed with heavy spines and prominent ribs, barrel cacti are known as the “fierce or wild cactus”.  Flowers always grow at the top without spines. Native Americans boiled the flowers to eat like cabbage. The fruits are considered inedible. Barrel cacti add a fascinating form to any landscape when planted in circles or artistic ways.
prickly-pear
Prickly Pear Cactus: Optunias, commonly called prickly pear cactus have yellow, red, purple, or orange fruit that is delicious and sold in stores as tuna. The paddles are called Nopales and used in many ethnic recipes.  The soluble fibers of both the fruit and the paddles are considered to stabilize blood sugar. These cacti make a great fence to keep out human and animal invaders as the spines are tiny and very sharp. My sister surrounded her property with optunias which bear enough fruit for a weekly farmer’s market booth.

Although I’ve concentrated on the desert plants, the Ruth Bancroft Garden reveals a softer side with riffs of bulbs, wildflowers, grasses, and California natives. A visit to the Ruth Bancroft Garden is a must-do for anyone interested in learning more about dry and drought tolerant gardening. We are fortunate to have one of the nation’s most renowned public gardens literally in our back yard with a collection of rare specimens available for sale that will enhance your landscape while saving precious water. www.RuthBancroftGarden.org.

Embrace your sense of curiosity. Employ a few of Ruth Bancroft’s dry gardening specimens. Gardens are a legacy to our future and the time to plant is today.  In 108 years, who will be enjoying your garden?

brians-nursery-at-ruth-bancroft
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
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©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

Cynthia Brian’s October Gardening Guide

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Cynthia Brian’s October Gardening Guide

cynthia brian-pelagoniaums, dahlias

“Go forth under the open sky, and listen to Nature’s teachings.”
~ William Cullen Bryant
cosmos, bachelor buttons 4'oclocks
Autumn is with us. The sun is still scorching our soils with heat during the days while the nights offer chilly dew. October is the best month of the fall season to take care of garden chores before winter arrives. With the drought a forever threat, we are all seeking ideas for a low-maintenance garden that will thrive with little care and less water. It is clear that we need to stand under the open sky to listen and look at what Mother Nature is telling us about our future in the outdoors.
waterfall
Visit your favorite nursery or garden center and talk to the professionals. Choose plants appropriate for your soil and sun requirements. Determine whether you have a shade or sun garden, how much moisture your area needs, then pick the plants that will flourish in those conditions. For example sun-loving specimens such as canna, lamb’s ears, sweet alyssum, geraniums, salvia’s, fountain grass, and boxwood planted densely will out-compete weeds while providing you with an elegant, low maintenance area. Plant the clump forming fountain grass and the evergreen shrub, boxwood, towards the back, with the fragrant sweet alyssum as a border in colors of pink, cream, purple, and white in the front. The wooly silver evergreen lambs-ear with its spikes of purple looks great with the salvia and tall spikes of the robust perennial canna in red, yellow, or orange. Geraniums are available in color clusters of red, pink, white, purple offering continuous blooms above bright green leaves spring through mid winter, when it’s time to prune them to the ground.
red bachelor button queen anne's lace
Other low maintenance plants for full sun include Russian sage, rosa rugosa, daylily, and rudbeckia. For a shade garden, consider hosta, Lenten Rose, and ferns. If your soil is extremely dry, succulents including hen-and-chicks, lavender, sedum, and St. John’s Wort are easy choices while astilbe and Japanese iris will prosper in wet soil. A re-circulating water feature, waterfall, or pond will keep the pollinators around while adding a calming resonance in your environment.
purple veined sorrel
Halloween will be upon us soon. Allow your sunflowers, cornstalks, and pumpkins to continue in the garden until it’s time to decorate.
pumpkins on vine
⎫ MOVE baskets and pots to a shady area when Indian summer is hottest.
⎫ PRUNE your berry vines hard after you have harvested the fruit for easier picking next season.
⎫ ORDER spring bulbs from catalogs now for planting in November
⎫ PICK sorrel to add to salad, sauces, and soups.
⎫ DEADHEAD spent annuals.
⎫ PROPAGATE geranium and pelargonium by cutting back no-blooming stems and planting in damp soil.
⎫ DESTROY invasive star thistle that may have taken root in your garden. Animals and birds will not eat it and it must not be added to the compost pile.
⎫ BUY trees boasting autumn colors now.
⎫ VISIT nurseries to check out the fall selection of plants and bulbs. Suggestions in the tulip category include Greigii, single or double early blooming, triumph, Giant Darwin hybrid, lily flowering, parrot, peony, heirloom, viridiflora, fringed, crispa, single or double late blooming. Amazing how many varieties there are.  Make sure to cool them in the refrigerator for six to 10 weeks before planting. Other bulbs to buy include narcissi (and there is an equal amount of varieties, sizes, shapes, and colors), amaryllis, paperwhites, crocus, galanthus, scilla, iris, freesia, hyacinths, muscari, anemone, fritillaria, Dutch iris, allium, peonies, and Asiatic lilies….for starters.
⎫ CHECK around your house for fire hazards and flammable materials. October is the height of fire season.
⎫ FERTILIZE begonias and roses for more blooms.
⎫ GATHER seeds from bachelor buttons, cosmos, 4 o’clocks to dry and save for spring planting.
⎫ FEED your citrus.
⎫ TRANSPLANT calendulas, Iceland poppies, dianthus, forget-me-nots, primroses, Shasta daisies, agapanthus, and daylilies.
⎫ FREEZE or can your extra harvest of fruit and vegetables for winter health.
⎫ EAT the flowers of chives, garlic, basil, mint, dill, and other flowering herbs. Delicious and pretty in salads, sandwiches, and soups.
⎫ HARVEST the last of your grapes. Add the colorful leaves and twine the vines to form a spectacular autumnal arrangement.
⎫ RAKE your leaves into a compost pile. Add lawn clippings, eggshells, food scraps (no meat), and coffee grounds. Stupendous soil will be ready to use before the holidays.
⎫ Re-seed tired lawns using low-water loving clover for less maintenance, and fast, healthy growth.
⎫ DECORATE your front porch with sunflowers and cornstalks from your garden at the end of the month.
⎫ SAVE sunflower seeds to feed the birds as well as to sow for next season.
⎫ PICK your pumpkins at the end of the month and make a family day of carving Jack O’Lanterns.
⎫ SEE you at the Pear and Wine Festival on September 26th at Moraga Commons. Visit the Be the Star You Are!® booth to receive a FREE brand new book as part of the literacy outreach project, “Read, Lead, Succeed!”  Thanks to our sponsors, Children’s Success Unlimited, Michael Verbrugge Constructions, and The Lamorinda Weekly for making this giveaway possible. Pick up FREE seeds, bookmarks, and potpourri for all of our garden readers.
sunflowers
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing.

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nook with geraniums
Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.
black eyed susan-lilies
©2015
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net

star thistle

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