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Drought Design

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Drought Design

succulent-fountain grass.jpegby Cynthia Brian

“That which surrounds you is within you.”

 

~ Karl Schmidt

Days of heat followed by days of near-freezing cold! Out of nowhere, a beautiful hailstorm covers the ground in white pebbles. The weather forecasts sunshine or cloud cover, but no rain in future days. According to the New York Times, the seven hottest years on record globally were experienced in the last seven years. The atmospheric river of December provided a respite and a hopeful prospect for drought relief. January, February, and March are traditionally the wettest months here in California, but this year, January and February were the driest in years and March isn’t looking much better. Maybe the Irish leprechauns will exert their magical powers to make it rain on St. Patrick’s Day!

DESIGNING FOR DROUGHT:

As I gaze upon my peach tree blossoms intermingled with crabapple buds blooming much too early, I admit that I am basking in this early spring. Although I am an eternal optimist that imagines positive outcomes, if we want our gardens to survive and thrive, we need to design for the drought. Here’s how to get started now to be ready for whatever transpires as the months warm.

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CHECK FOR LEAKS

Make sure that your outside pipes are insulated against freezing. Water expands when it freezes causing pipes to burst. Even a tiny 1/8 crack could spew 250 gallons of water per day. If you witness wet spots, water running along driveways, or puddles, investigate for a leak. Check hose bibs for drips, replace washers, and routinely inspect automatic sprinklers and connections.

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AMEND THE SOIL

The foundation of every garden is the soil. The ideal soil drains quickly while storing water. For drought toleration, add several inches of rich, organic compost to encourage deep root formation while trapping moisture. Make your compost by adding kitchen scraps, eggshells, coffee grinds, tea leaves, shredded newspaper, leaves, lawn clippings, fish bones, aged manure, non-diseased weeds, and other organic matter to a bin or pile. Do not use human, dog, or cat feces. Don’t disturb the lower levels of the ground to allow worms and micro-bacteria to do their jobs of aerating and feeding the earth. In a drought, double and triple digging techniques are not recommended.

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WATER WELL

            To stay healthy, most plants need at least one inch of moisture per week. The best way to save your plants as well as conserve water is to water deeply and infrequently.

The penetration of the water encourages deeper roots that are more resistant to drought conditions. A good rule of thumb is to water until the dirt has a hint of shine. Lawns and bedding plants require a drink to a depth of six inches while perennials, trees, and shrubs need closer to twelve. Plan to irrigate either early in the morning or evening when absorption will be maximized, and evaporation minimized. Just as humans rejuvenate from a good night’s rest, plants do most of their growing at night. Traditional overhead sprinklers can lose half of their effectiveness to evaporation, run-off, and overspray. Drip and soaker hoses are the best bets for deep soaking to the root zone. Soaker hoses may be covered with mulch making them invisible. When water is restricted prioritize rationing by watering: 

  1. Newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials.
  2. Newly seeded or repaired lawns.
  3. Plants with exposure on windy sites or in sandy soils.
  4. Flowering vegetables. 

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MULCH

            Three inches of much will insulate your plants from the heat, cold, and elements. Mulch keeps the ground cooler, maximizes water retention, reduces evaporation, and improves the appearance of your landscape. Mulch includes pine needles, straw, leaves, wood chips, bark, and even gravel. As it decomposes it becomes compost and enriches the soil. When that happens, it is time for a new top layer of the mulch of your choice.

 

WEED

            Weeds steal moisture and nutrition from neighboring plants. Pull or cut down unwanted weeds.

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STOP FERTILIZING

            If you plan to fertilize this season, do it now while the weather is still cool, and dew is apparent. Feeding while it is raining is the best prescription for plant wellness. If you fertilize without sufficient water, the roots will burn, and the plants will die. Fertilizing encourages new growth and new growth will stress your already stressed specimens. As the weather warms, refrain from fertilizing again until rain is forthcoming.

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PLANT FOR DROUGHT

I’m a big believer in bulbs. In our temperate climate, you dig a hole, plant, forget, then be awed when bulbs pop up and bloom. Daffodils, calla lilies, freesia, hyacinths, Dutch iris, and many others are all excellent spring-blooming bulbs that require minimal care and reap huge bloom benefits. For summer flowering, plant gladiolus, Naked ladies, agapanthus, Asian lilies, tuberous begonias, dahlias, iris, and canna. Succulents offer a magnificent maintenance-free drought investment.  Succulents come in many shapes, sizes, and colors with beautiful blooms and little water requirements. Sedums are spectacular as groundcovers or upright attracting bees and butterflies. Jade, echeveria, Senecio, haworthias, aconitum, and ice plant all have varied textures and attractive flowers. Unlike cactus, succulents don’t have thorns, making them a favorite for rock gardens.

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Don’t forget to plant edibles. A small four-foot by eight-foot bed can be planted with plenty of nutritious vegetables and herbs to feed a family of four. Decide what you enjoy eating and plant only those to avoid watering vegetables that you won’t consume. 

 

Surrounding me now is plenty of sunshine and within I feel sunny and bright. Yet, I’m counting on the luck of the Irish to bring a bit of Emerald Isle precipitation to the shores of California this St. Paddy’s Day! In case there isn’t that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, I’m designing for drought. 

yellow sedumsucculent.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1601/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Designing-for-drought.html

Goddess Gardener Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

ü  FERTILIZE hungry lawns to strengthen roots, resist cold, heat, and high traffic when weather is wet. This feeding will help combat the stress of drought.

ü  AERATE your lawn. The soil is compacted from winter rains and foot traffic.  Leave the plugs to add nutrients back into the grass.

ü  CONTINUE to protect frost tender plants

ü  POUR chamomile tea around the base of newly planted seedlings to eliminate fungus growth.

ü  CUT boughs of camellias to use in a bowl or arrangement. 

ü  PAMPER yourself with an exfoliating and moisturizing facial from your garden. Squeeze lemon juice from your Meyer lemon tree into a bowl and mix with lavender petals and ¼ cup olive oil.  Home brewed spa experience in 20 minutes.

ü  CONTINUE to compost, compost, and compost. This is the single most important ingredient of growing a great garden. Buy an inexpensive compost bin from your local waste service.

ü  SPADE six inches of rich compost into your vegetable garden in preparation for the next season’s plantings.

ü  SCATTER a canister of California poppy seeds for a carefree, drought-tolerant golden showstopper.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1601/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Designing-for-drought.html

Cynthia Brian- Camellias.jpeg

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.

BTSYA 3 book series.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Grateful Gardener

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Grateful Gardener

autumn trees on tennessee river..jpeg

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…

Monarch-red zinnia-blacked susan butterfly Garden.jpeg

“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. 

Bind weed (looks like morning glory).jpeg

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

Agastache-Moraga Monarch butterfly Garden.jpeghttp://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1519/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Butterflies-are-free.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.

cynthia brian-fall leaves (2).jpeg

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

Garden gremlins

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Garden gremlins

Halloween House.jpeg

Gnome and elf and fairy,

Witch and ghost make merry

On this last of dear October’s days.” Lettie. C. Van Derveer, Halloween Happenings, 1921

 

The howling, nipping, and barking of the coyote send shivers down my back. Although they hunt throughout the day, as dusk settles over the hills and the moon rises, these wily carnivores set out to regulate the ecosystem. As apex crepuscular predators in an urban landscape, their prey is often our beloved pet. Creepy and blood-curdling!

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For kids, the hot topic of conversation this week revolves around Halloween. As we decorate pumpkins and light Jack O’lanterns, spooky specimens and wild phantoms are also prowling around our hallowed grounds.

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We work hard to maintain our landscapes and it’s frustrating to have our sanctuaries invaded by unwanted organisms. One of the most noxious weeds to assault our gardens is the bindweed. Mimicking the fair face of a morning glory flower, like a poltergeist, it twists and tangles until it strangles plants and shrubs. Each plant produces more than fifty seeds that can survive for fifty years or more, making this deep-rooted gremlin a wicked weed to eradicate. 

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The cast list of freaky wild ones includes the misunderstood good, the beastly bad, and the pesky players that we often wish to hocus pocus somewhere else.

THE MISUNDERSTOOD GOOD

 

Owls

Owls are the silent, stealthy hunters of our gardens providing free rodent control. When you hear their haunting hoots, be grateful that they’ve designated your trees as their habitat. Install a tall owl nesting box if you don’t have old trees attractive to owls.

Frogs and Toads

In folkloric traditions, magic potions are concocted in rituals using frogs and toads to cast evil spells. These helpful hoppers have been much maligned. As a natural pest controller, they will munch over 10,000 insects in a few months. Their summer song and mating calls are melodious, indicating that you have a healthy environment. Turn a broken clay pot on its side, bury it halfway in the soil, and welcome these amphibians to their toad abode.

 

Bats

Dracula and the coronavirus have something in come…they both disparaged the docile bat. Bats are not winged rodents or bloodsuckers. Instead, they are the only flying mammals with wings. Bats are productive pest patrollers feeding on insects, progressive pollinators of hundreds of plant species, and sensational seed dispersers. These flying friends don’t plague people, but they will devour a thousand mosquitoes in an hour. Provide habitat for these winged heroes to roost by erecting a bat house twelve to fifteen feet off the ground. As a bonus to your garden, they’ll offer nutrient-rich fertilizer with their excrement, guano. If you fear vampires, plant garlic. 

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Snakes

Snakes are slimy, slithering, and scary. But most snakes are harmless and helpful garden assistants. The common garter snake preys on insects, slugs, and rodents and prefers to live in cool, dark places. Keep your doors closed as it would be frightening to find that a female gave birth to up to fifty live young under your bed! The elegant Kingsnake is welcome in any landscape as it eats venomous snakes like the rattlesnake or copperhead as well as rodents and other plant destroyers.

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Skunks

Skunks are the garbage collectors of the garden. These docile black and white creatures will eat anything including insects, rodents, and yellow jacket larvae. When fruit falls from a tree, they’ll be the clean-up crew. Pet food and birdseed are attractors. Because of their odorous spray, these mostly nocturnal, solitary, and non-confrontational creatures get a bad rap. When threatened, they’ll stomp, hiss, and puff up before raising their tail and unleashing their potent defense system. 

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Spiders

Little Miss Muffet had no reason to run away. Only unwanted insects such as grasshoppers, aphids, cockroaches, and mosquitoes need to fear these valuable web weavers. Research is underway by scientists on the benefits of spider venom to prevent arthritis while the strength of spider silk is inspiring mechanical engineers. 

THE BEASTLY BAD

 

Gophers, Moles, Voles

Although we witness the horror gophers, moles, and voles create in our lawns and yard, we rarely see these creeping critters. Stomping on the mounds, trails, and holes may distract them for a while, but like the Terminator, they’ll be back. Setting multiple traps and checking them daily is the best method. If all else fails, call in the pros.

Rats and Mice

Rats and mice gnaw through wiring, wood, pipes, bags of birdseed, and make nests in our stored patio furniture pads. Reproducing rapidly and prolifically, rats spread disease, contaminate food sources, and infest our homes and gardens. In just three years, a single rat can produce half a billion descendants! Trapping is the humane manner to eradicate these pests unless the wicked witch of the West unleashes her feral black cats to hunt and exterminate. 

Raccoons

If you are hearing scratching noises in your attic, it’s not the walking dead. You could have rodents or raccoons. Raccoons will walk on a tree branch to access your roof and set up a den in the spaces above your ceiling. They also are attracted to garbage, pet food, bird feeders, bird nests, and they kill poultry. Raccoons are major hosts of rabies in the United States. Make sure to cut your tree branches back at least six to eight feet from your roof to protect yourself from these masked marauders as well as from fire laddering. Deter raccoons from setting up house with cayenne pepper sprinkled wherever needed and spray your shrubs and bushes with a solution of a bottle of hot sauce mixed with water. 

Wild Boars

Wild boars destroy yards, damage fences, and are a danger to humans. The destruction of property by feral hogs costs agriculture over $1.5 billion annually. They compete with wildlife for food and negatively impact our natural ecosystem, increasing soil erosion and decreasing water quality. Their trampling, rooting, and digging have devastated numerous lawns and gardens locally. Wild hogs are a horror show.

 

PESKY PLAYERS

Squirrels, deer, and turkeys are a nuisance to homeowners.

Squirrels

Bushy-tailed squirrels strip fruit and vegetables from trees and vines before it is harvest time and often take up residence in homes. I’ve witnessed squirrels scampering on my fence with an apple from my tree that was bigger than his head. They have denuded my pistache trees of their unripe berries and stolen all the chestnuts from the trees. Nevertheless, I enjoy their aerial antics and circus acrobatics as well as their lively chatter.

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Deer

Deer demolish gardens with their dining desires. The only sure way to keep them away from your sacred spaces is to build a tall fence enclosing your property. Since my garden is fenced and protected, I welcome the doe and her twin fawns on their daily 6:30 pm visit to graze on my grassy slope. Sometimes the stags sharpen their antlers on my oaks and often leave me a gift of them.

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Turkeys

Turkeys fly over those fences to forage for berries, bugs, and buds. Living in my pines, I sometimes have as many as two dozen gobbling and scratching. I’ve watched how they share the bounty of their discoveries with some of the birds shaking branches to release fruit to their young waiting below.

Elves, fairies, and gnomes are invited to roam my haunted garden to protect and serve.  If you get an infestation of any of the “beastly bad” or when the “pesky players” are bewitching and injurious to your property, it may behoove you to call in the ghostbusters, also known as licensed depredators for nuisance wildlife control. R.I.P.

SPOOKY SHRUBS

Ending this article on a lighter note, if you are looking for an all-black bush to showcase for Halloween, Proven Winners developed a crapemyrtle called Center Stage Red that boasts jet black leaves with stunning summer red blooms. I’m partnering this black beauty with a heat-tolerant gardenia, Steady as She Goes. Shrubs with names that evoke goosebumps include Ghost Weigela, Abracadabra Hydrangeas, and Handsome Devil Viburnum.

Proven Winner-Center Stage red crapemyrtle and steady as she goes gardenia.jpeg

As October comes to an end, I wish you zombie thrills, frights, and chills. May the grim reapers stay away from your garden. Charge up your broomsticks and have a very happy, safe Halloween.

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Happy gardening. Happy growing. Trick or Treat!

Photos and More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1518/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Gremlins-of-the-garden.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.

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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

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Empowerment

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with Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® Radio brought to the airwaves under the auspices of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity, LIVE, since 1998.

This hour is fun, informative, and lively. Join us!

Exciting advances in medicine arrive this year. Game-changers for stroke victims, cancer patients, and mobility issues. Heather Brittany discusses the years’ top predictions for medical breakthroughs.
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With 68% of Americans now owning one, the smartphone has become the go-to camera for most people. Want to know how to take better photos? Cynthia Brian is a newspaper columnist as well as a photographer who uses her iphone for some of the best pictures yet. Learn the secrets.

Robert Frost said that good fences make good neighbors. That is something we probably all agree on but what happens when you need a fence to protect yourself and your garden from the wildlife? Fence me in and find out.

Listen at Voice America

Listen at StarStyle Radio with photos and descriptions

Check out our brand new radio sites for StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® and Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio. PARTY!
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Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND

Help Be the Star You Are!® without spending a penny. If you’ve ever purchased a TV or computer screen, just 3 minutes of your time is needed to fill out the simple form and click submit. Every unit qualifies for a donation of about $20 to Be the Star You Are!®. You will receive a tax receipt once the donations have been dispersed. PLEASE do this today. Thanks from Be the Star You Are!®

Read about our SUCCESSFUL VOLUNTEERS: READ AT PRESS PASS
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Catch up with all broadcasts on ITunes

Buy books by Cynthia Brian
Amazon
The award winning positive talk radio program, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasts on the Voice America Empowerment Channel LIVE every Wednesday from 4-5pm Pt/7-8pm ET.  Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany are the Mother/Daughter dynamic duo who have been co-hosting this program live weekly since 1998 bringing upbeat, life enhancing conversation to the world. With Cynthia’s expertise in interviewing the trailblazers, authors, and experts and Heather’s healthy living segments, these Goddess Gals are your personal growth coaches helping you to jumpstart your life while igniting your flame of greatness. Brought to the airwaves under the auspices of the literacy and positive media charity, Be the Star You Are!®, each program will pump your energy to help you live, love, laugh, learn, and lead.
For photos, descriptions, links, archives, and more, visit StarStyle Radio.
Get inspired, motivated, and informed with StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!®
Lend us Your Ears!!!
Make a donation today to Be the Star You Are!® charity
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Cynthia Brian talks about the empowering outreach programs offered by Be the Star You Are!® charity.

Fit-i-quette, Pollinator Paradise, The Gift of Attitude

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Empowerment
Fit-i-quette, Pollinator Paradise, The Gift of Attitude

cyn-heather at bar class - 2

with Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® Radio brought to the airwaves under the auspices of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity, LIVE, since 1998.
This hour is fun, informative, and lively. Join us!

What is fitness etiquette for a class or in the gym? Find out in Health Matters with fitness instructor, Heather Brittany.
Heather Brittany, Bar Method
To have a truly healthy garden, create a pollinator paradise. It’s easy to do.
You won’t need any special talents, just lots of curiosity, and these simple tips with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian.

Every day it is important to have positive input. We are creatures of habit and it’s easy to get bogged down with the latest bad news and the financial failures of those around us. Attitude does determine our altitude. Find out how to make yours soar with Cynthia Brian’s book, Be the Star You Are!® 99 Gifts for Living, Loving, Laughing, and Learning to Make a Difference.
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Listen at Voice America

Listen at StarStyle Radio with photos and descriptions

Come visit our Be the Star You Are! booth at the Pear and Wine Festival on Sept. 26th from 10-4pm and pick up a copy of The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob.
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Read about our SUCCESSFUL VOLUNTEERS: READ AT PRESS PASS

Catch up with all broadcasts on ITunes

Buy books by Cynthia Brian
Check out the online fundraiser for BTSYA
Amazon 
The award winning positive talk radio program, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasts on the Voice America Empowerment Channel LIVE every Wednesday from 4-5pm Pt/7-8pm ET.  Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany are the Mother/Daughter dynamic duo who have been co-hosting this program live weekly since 1998 bringing upbeat, life enhancing conversation to the world. With Cynthia’s expertise in interviewing the trailblazers, authors, and experts and Heather’s healthy living segments, these Goddess Gals are your personal growth coaches helping you to jumpstart your life while igniting your flame of greatness.
Brought to the airwaves under the auspices of the literacy and positive media charity, Be the Star You Are!®, each program will pump your energy to help you live, love, laugh, learn, and lead.

Tune in the Power Hour every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT/70-8pmET and join our empowerment party.
For photos, descriptions, links, archives, and more, visit http://www.StarStyleRadio.com.
Get inspired, motivated, and informed with StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!®
Lend us Your Ears!!!
Make a donation today to Be the Star You Are!® charity

Cynthia Brian talks about the empowering outreach programs offered by Be the Star You Are!® charity.

Digging Deep-Gardening with Cynthia Brian

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Digging Deep-Gardening with Cynthia Brian

Winter Wonders

”The best Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature. “ ~Andy Rooney

 A couple of days after Halloween, my niece who is a paramedic posted photos of her Christmas decorations on Facebook. Every inch of her home and garden were already festooned in holiday finery. Her tree was hung with sparkling ornaments, the mantel dressed with swags and candles, the bushes and flowerbeds glittering with lights and accents. She definitely inherited the celebratory spirit from our farm family. Every year since I was born, my parents made sure that at least two acres of our ranch was illuminated like a runway to enable Santa Claus to find his way to our remote locale. Not an inch of the gardens surrounding the house was left without adornment and twinkle lights. This was an outward display of pure inner love and I can’t even imagine what this oasis looked like from the night sky. Even now, with seven great grandchildren to amuse, my gardener mother maintains this enchanted tradition. Magic happens to those who believe.

Every day those who tend gardens work hand in hand with Mother Nature. As the Grand Dame, she is always in charge. Gardeners are her faithful stewards, nurturing the land that feed our bodies while clothing our spirits with beauty, fragrance, and spiritual wellness. As the earth settles down for its winter nap, we also slow our pace in our outdoor spaces to begin preparations for the holiday celebrations and a new year.

In order to sleep peacefully and dream of our gardens, we have to think about safety first. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission over ten thousand people visit emergency rooms during the holidays due to decorating injuries from falls, burns, cuts, and chocks. More than two hundred fires are started each year because of dried out trees. 

Every tree is the perfect tree at Christmas, especially if you have children who choose. To put the magic in your winter wonderland while keeping your family secure and protected, here are a few suggestions.

Find the freshest tree to light up your yuletide.  Whether you cut it yourself, or buy it from your favorite lot, look for a tree with green needles that are difficult to pull from the branch.  The tree’s bottom needs to be sticky with resin and needles should not fall off when the tree is shaken.

Keep all trees, branches, and flammable decorations away from fireplaces, radiators, and high traffic areas.

Hang stockings on chimneys only when there is no fire burning.

Buy new lights that have been tested by the Underwriters Laboratory (UL). Make sure that lights for your garden are labeled as outdoor capable. All lights need good wiring, devoid of any broken or cracked sockets, frayed wires, or loose connections.  Only use extension cords that are designed for the outdoors and beware of the number of light sets that may be attached.

Never add electric lights to metallic ornamentations as you could be exposing yourself to electrocution.

When climbing ladders, use the buddy system.

Besides the conifers that beckon Santa’s visit, fruit bearing trees provide wondrous gifts of nature during December. Persimmons, quince, chestnuts, and pomegranates offer exotic flavors for holiday gastronomy.  The delicious and juicy Hachiya persimmon is the perfect fruit to flavor many holiday dishes, including Christmas puddings and fruitcakes. These beautiful pointed persimmons resemble bright orange ornaments hanging on the bare branches. If they are firm when picked, allow them to sit on a plate on the counter until soft. They can then be enjoyed raw or cooked, but only when they are mushy. On the other hand, the Fuyu persimmon is flat, hard, and delicious eaten like an apple or sliced into salads. Once it gets soft, it can also be used in dishes that suggest Hachiya.  When planting persimmons, keep in mind that it may take up to ten years for a bountiful yield.

Another tree that is offering holiday bounty is the quince. This hard fruit resembling an ugly apple was a sign of love and commitment in ancient Rome.  In Greek mythology, quince was the gift from Aphrodite, the goddess of love. It has been speculated that the forbidden fruit that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden was actually the quince, although quince is inedible raw. When cooked, the aroma smells like rose petals, and the color of the flesh turns amber. The taste is a combination of pear and apple.  Mixed with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, quince is heavenly. The fruit is popular in Middle Eastern meat stews as well as British tarts and preserves.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose” are the popular lyrics from the Christmas song that conjures up images and happy memories of bygone holiday seasons. On the branch, the chestnut is encompassed inside a prickly shell that looks like a small yellow tennis ball with spikes. When the shell opens, out falls a shiny brown nut. For those who grow chestnuts, now is the time to gather the fallen fruit. Slit the skin with a serrated knife (use caution as the shell is tough), blanche, roast, wrap in a cloth for five minutes before eating. BEWARE, the nuts from horse chestnuts and buckeyes are poisonous. They look like chestnuts but are not edible to humans or animals.

Pomegranates have symbolized hope, prosperity, fertility, and eternal life for over 4000 years. Today they are heralded as a superfood, low in calories, high in antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. When planted in a sunny location, the small six to twelve foot tree is easy to grow with green glossy foliage and pretty orange flowers in summer and fall. When the fruit is red it is ripe and ready to be eaten raw. Cut the crown to remove the yellow pith while scoring the skin in quarters. Immerse the scored fruit in a large bowl of cold water. Holding the fruit under the water, break it into sections. The seeds will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Drain, dry, and enjoy. 

Be prepared for sticker shock when you purchase any of these Christmas treats. Persimmons and pomegranates cost $2-4 each in the produce aisle. Perhaps it’s time to write a letter to Ole’ St. Nick to put in a request for these special trees or other garden gadgets. What do you want or need for your garden? A gazing ball,  purple rhododendron, pair of shears, birdbath, a money tree?  He’s making a list and checking it twice. December is the month for dreams to come true. Tie your Christmas to the outdoors.  Let there be light!

Peace on earth. Good will to all. Be a child again on Christmas morning. May your stockings be filled with the seeds of winter wonders, hope, and love.

Read at: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue0720/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Winter-Wonders.html

Get up, get out, and get growing while you celebrate the holly jolly. Give the greatest gift of all-the light of love. Believe in the magic and get glowing!

Happy Gardening to You!

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