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10 Summer Blooming Perennials

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
10 Summer Blooming Perennials

daylilies close-up.jpeg

“When the sun rises, I go to work.  When the sun goes down, I take my rest. I dig the well from which I drink, I farm the soil which yields my food, I share creation. Kings can do no more.” Chinese proverb

In the sizzling heat of summer, many annuals go to seed and flowers fade. Thankfully there are plants besides cacti and succulents that enjoy the higher temperatures. Most of my favorite summer bloomers are perennials that once established require minimal irrigation. 

My top ten summer flowering favorites include acanthus, agapanthus, bougainvillea, bower vine, crape myrtle, crocosmia, daylily, hollyhock, hydrangea, and rose. I also am a huge fan of the Naked Lady, but it sprouts its neck later in August, lasting through the fall months.

Acanthus:
 

Also known as Bear’s breeches, Acanthus can be deciduous or evergreen growing from rhizomes. It is drought tolerant with shiny oval leaves lobed with spines and spires of flowers that are purple, white, pink, cream, or green. It doesn’t like full sun when it is hot, so it may be best to grow Acanthus in partial shade. The flower spikes can grow to five feet. I like it as a back border plant or to line a path. The good news: butterflies flock to it. The bad news: deer devour it. Cut it to the ground in the fall and it will re-emerge in the spring. Greek Corinthian column capitals were and are modeled after the Acanthus plant.

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Agapanthus: 

Another rhizome spreader that is hardy in drought times, yet pretty in bloom is the Lily of the Nile or African Lily that we know as Agapanthus. The rhizomes retain water and divide easily to plant in other locations. They prefer a sunny location, although I’ve seen many beautiful specimens growing in the shade. The sky blue, midnight blue, or white trumpet-shaped flowers bloom June through the end of August with stalks that reach four feet high. The elegant strap-like leaves are evergreen. When planting work compost and organic matter into the soil and continue to fertilize during the growing season. Deadhead when the flowers fade and toss them on the compost pile. Wear gloves when working with this plant as it is poisonous and could cause an allergic reaction in those who are prone to plant allergies.

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Bougainvillea:

A gorgeous tropical vining shrub, bougainvillea flowers are modified leaves called bracts blooming in colors of yellow, orange, white, and my personal favorite, fluorescent pink. Native to arid climates, bougainvillea thrives in hot weather and needs full sun while requiring a minimum of H20. On our ranch, bougainvillea covered one full side of our two-story farmhouse delighting our family year after year with a spectacular showcase of hues. Plant bougainvillea on a strong structure or well-made fence. It can be pruned when it starts to rain or after flowering. Since it is susceptible to frost, cover with burlap in the winter to protect it if your plant is small enough.

bougainvillea.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1511/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Perennial-favorites.html

Bower Vine:

This is the most perfect flowering evergreen vine for pergolas, arbors, and trellises. Grow bower vine over awnings, around windows and doors, or as a gate climber. It is easy to care for, doesn’t invade a roof or siding, and is a swift grower.  Blooming throughout spring, summer, and fall, flowers are pink and white with deep-throated trumpets attractive to hummingbirds. I grow bower vines in full sun and partial shade. Once established they don’t require much water while providing year-round beauty with their shiny green leaves. Prune whenever the vine needs a bit of TLC as this vine is not fussy. Cut stems to add to indoor arrangements.

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Crape Myrtle:

The crape myrtle is hands-down one of my very favorite specimens because of its beauty and interest in every season. In summer the bush or tree is covered in showy flowers, in fall the leaves change to gorgeous red, umber, and gold, in winter the leaves fall off showcasing beautiful bark, and in spring the shiny green leaves sprout. All crape myrtles bloom on new wood and come in colors that include watermelon, red, white, pink, lavender, and purple. I prune my purple shrubs in early winter to twelve inches from the ground and by summer they have grown to three feet high. Prune trees periodically to keep them shaped. Although crape myrtles prefer acidic soil, they will grow in sand, clay, or loam. The Chinese Lagerstroemia indica crape myrtle is prone to powdery mildew so look for a cross with the Japanese L. fauriei to enjoy glorious blooms, attractive bark, and leaves without any issues. They are drought resistant, too!

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Crocosmia:

This firecracker plant boasts a tropical origin with bright blazing orange, yellow, red flowers that light up the summer garden. In our region, they start blooming right in time for the fireworks of Independence Day and continue until autumn. Their sword-like foliage offers spikey interest to the landscape. Hummingbirds and butterflies are especially attracted to the trumpet-shaped blooms while deer and rabbits stay away. The corms naturalize and the stalks make excellent floral displays. After the flowers are spent, the seedpods provide additional appeal. 

crocosmia firecracker.jpeg

Daylily:

Sometimes called “ditch weed”, daylilies will grow anywhere! Their botanical name is Hemerocallis from the Greek word hemera meaning day and kallos meaning beauty. They tolerate every kind of soil, are extremely low-maintenance, and require minimal irrigation once established. They are not a true lily as they have fleshy roots as opposed to bulbs. The leaves grow from a crown and the flowers form on a leafless stem called a “scape”. Most do not self-sow. Divide the roots every three to five years to create more plants. Each flower blooms for only a day, but each scape will have a dozen or more buds that will continue to open. A variety of colors and shades are available with butter yellow being the most ubiquitous. Every part of the daylily is edible. Sauté the buds in butter, garlic, and a little white wine for a delicious veggie treat that tastes like asparagus mixed with peas.

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Hollyhock:

Happy memories surround the legacy of my hollyhocks. I can’t remember a time when hollyhocks were not growing in my mother’s or grandmother’s gardens. My seeds are heirlooms from several generations of family gardeners with a history that goes back over a hundred years. Hollyhocks are the classic cottage garden staple that every gardener should include for spikey tall stalks of pink, white, magenta, and red blooms that will continue until winter. A member of the hibiscus family, this self-seeding China native grows best in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Because they grow to fifteen feet or more, plant towards the back of the garden or near a fence. By deadheading when the flowers fade, you will encourage continuous bloom production. Prune to the ground by winter and save the seedpods to share.

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Hydrangea:

Another favorite plant for generations of gardeners, hydrangeas produce abundant blooms in partial sun. They are thirsty plants and need mulch around them to improve the soil texture and maintain moisture. Pruning hydrangeas is tricky because it is necessary to know what type you have as different hydrangeas require different pruning times and methods. The most common hydrangeas are Bigleaf, Oakleaf, Mountain, and Climbing which are pruned after summer blooming. They rebloom on “old wood” which are the stems from the previous season. Panicle and Smooth hydrangeas bloom on new wood (the stems from this season) and must be pruned before the buds form. I’m looking forward to trialing new Panicles from Proven Winners which will include Limelight Prime and a space-saving Fire Light Tidbit that will have cream-colored flowers covering the plant in summer, then turning to pink and lasting through frost.

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Rose:

No introduction is necessary for the fabulousness of the rose. Roses are the most versatile, beautiful, and coveted plant in every garden. When gardeners proclaim roses to be the bedrock of their landscape, they are not exaggerating. Roses come in every color, shade, petal, and size to suit every desire. Roses are a diverse group of plants that include shrub roses, carpet roses, floribundas, hybrid teas, climbing, old roses, rambling roses, and tree roses. Their shapes and structures differ. Some look like peonies, others have a single floral pattern. There are rosettes, cups, doubles, pompons, button-eyed, incurved, recurved, and quartered.  My favorites are David Austin roses with intoxicating fragrance, fine foliage, disease resistance, and stunning flowers.  Over a hundred roses grace my landscape and I am constantly adding more. As Emma Goldman stated, “I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”

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When the sun rises, I go to work, spending as much time in nature as feasible. Consider planting some of my perennial favorites to enjoy elegance and exquisite allure throughout the summer months. 

Stay cool, hydrated, and share creation.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Cynthia-Summer picnic.jpeg

Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1511/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Perennial-favorites.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.

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

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Bee Diligent

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Bee Diligent

bees on clover.jpeg

“The keeping of bees is like the direction of sunbeams. Henry David Thoreau

Barefoot and wearing our bathing suits, my daughter was teaching me Bar Method exercises out on our lawn on a beautiful summer afternoon. Partway through the practice I was stung on my foot by a honeybee dining on the clover. Clover is a wonderful addition to lawns as it adds natural nitrogen to the soil, however, when playing on the grass we must remember to be cautious as both red and white clover provide favorite nectar to our honey friends. 

We all want to attract pollinators to our gardens. The more flowers you grow equals the more food for the habitat of the pollinators. Bees, butterflies, beetles, hummingbirds, bats, and bids are responsible for 35% of our food crop and 75% of the world’s flowering plants. Every three bites of food eaten can be directly thanks to the pollination from these garden friends. By helping plants reproduce, pollinators sustain our ecosystem and produce our natural resources. Sadly, the pollinator population is in jeopardy on a global level.

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In 2006, the honeybee population substantially declined in a phenomenon that became known as Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD. When the worker bees disappeared, they would leave behind a queen and a few nurse bees to care for the queen and the remaining immature bees. There were rarely dead bees around the hives. Hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees which resulted in the loss of the colony. There were many theories advanced on why the problem arose including new diseases, parasites, mites, pesticide poisoning, habitat changes, poor nutrition, and stress. Although an actual cause has never been determined, most scientists believe that CCD is related to this combination of causes. 

Honey bees reflect the health of the environment. Our agriculture depends on the pollination of honey bees. If bees continue to die, consumers can expect increased food prices and more scarcity. As gardeners, we can do our part to provide habitat and food for all pollinators and beneficial insects, including bees. 

Here are some ways individual gardeners can make a difference while creating harmony in the landscape:

  •  Support the pollinator population all season by including plants that bloom spring until the beginning of winter. Bumblebees need early-season nectar and pollen while bees need late-season blooms for winter hibernation.
  • bumblebee on bottlebrush.jpeg
  •  Add easy-to-grow natives and native hybrids to your garden.
  •  Replace barren areas with wildflowers and perennials.
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  •  Include clover in your lawn.
  •  Avoid using any pesticides or herbicides.
  •  Provide a source of water by including a fountain or even a shallow birdbath with a landing pad of stones or pebbles.
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  •  Pollinators need a sheltered habitat of rocks, trees, shrubs, and ornamental grasses.
  • Bumble Bee on Greanium.jpeg

In general, bees tend to enjoy plants that have flat flower clusters, short tubular shapes, and single flowers which allow them to access the nectar and pollen easily. 

Attract and Feed Pollinators, especially bees and Bumblebees by planting a selection of these specimens:

Anise

Aster

Bachelor Button

Bee Balm

Black-Eyed Susan

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Blazing Star

Bottlebrush

Calendula

Chamomile

Clover

Cleome

Cosmos

Daisy

Delphinium

Echinacea

Fennel

Four O’Clock

Foxglove

Gladiola

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Hollyhock

Iris

Lupine

Lavender

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Magnolia

Marigold

Milkweed

Morning glory

Nasturtium

Nigella

Oregano

Poppy

Rosemary

Salvia

Sedum

Sunflower

Sweet Pea

Yarrow

Zinnia

Another great addition to any pollinator garden is the bearded iris. Irises spread as they mature, with old rhizomes producing new ones to form rhizome clumps. These clumps need to be divided every 3–5 years to avoid overcrowding and reduce the likelihood of soft rot. You may want to designate an area specifically for an iris plot. Divide and replant the rhizomes to grow your garden. To divide irises do the following:

ruffled bearded iris-peach.jpeg
https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1510/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian.html

  1. 1. About four weeks after the flowers fade, cut down the foliage by about two-thirds.
  2. 2. Carefully dig up the clumps and gently separate individual rhizomes by hand or with garden shears.
  3. 3. Discard damaged or discolored rhizomes. Also, toss out any with soft spots.
  4. 4. Freshen soil with compost and replant the newly separated rhizomes 15–24″ apart.
  5. 5. If you have too many, share with friends and family. 

Bees are critical to the well-being of the planet. My daughter and her husband have become home beekeepers and are enjoying the delicious honey that their bees create from the many flowers growing in their garden. The bees are sunbeams of beauty and productivity.  It’s up to humans to “bee” careful with how we manage our biologicals to promote the health and longevity of all pollinators.

Just don’t exercise barefoot on the clover!

Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1510/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian.html

Happy Gardening. happy growing!

BEST cynthi-BEESUIT.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 best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Waste Not by Growing Your Groceries!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Waste Not by Growing Your Groceries!

artichoke close-up.jpeg

“I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs. -Joseph Addison, essayist and poet (1672-1719)”

After months of intently watching my two cherry trees blossom and form fruit, I was aghast as flocks of birds began to daily swarm the branches and fly away with unripe cherries in their beaks. Joseph Addison’s quote eased my anxiety a bit as the happy trills of full bird bellies filled the air with soulful melodies. From my bench perch, I witnessed Stellar jays, blackbirds, sparrows, finches, warblers, orioles, robins, doves, and other unknown feathered friends dining on my crop. Although I kept instructing my flying diners to eat at the buffet at the top of the trees, since I don’t speak avian, they ate wherever they landed.  My reward was the entertainment of witnessing so many species mingling and singing.

In general, cherries don’t ripen once they are picked. It took patience for me to wait until the Bings turned purple and the Queen Anne’s had a blush rose on their yellow skins before I grabbed a basket to harvest what was still available.

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Netting a tree is the way to protect your investment when you have a small tree, but when your trees are 20 feet or larger, netting is more rigorous, although not impossible. My daughter-in-law was able to gather enough cherries from her family plot to make my favorite cherry pies. Her family uses extra-long bamboo poles wrapped with netting to cover their tall trees to protect them from the marauders. It takes several family members to accomplish the task. 

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The mulberries and loquats are also ripe with birds, squirrels, deer, and me all fighting for the feast. The plums will be next on the agenda within a week. The marvelous part of the sparring and squabbling is nothing goes to waste. Even the fruit that falls is gulped up by rabbits, quail, or other critters. (While weeding around the tree, I disturbed a momma quail sitting on her eggs. When foraging, quail eggs are also a delicacy. I didn’t touch them!)

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These exhibitions made me think about how much humans waste. One-third of all the food produced in the world never gets eaten. 63 million tons of food was sent to landfills by Americans in 2018, producing methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. It amounted to more than 408 billion dollars of uneaten goods. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the cost of food waste to the average person is at least $1600 annually. By 2050 it is estimated that there will be over 9 billion people on our planet and that food insecurity will be a major threat to living healthy lives.

What can individuals do to help change this habit of unused consumption? 

  1. 1. Grow your own groceries: Plant fruits, herbs, and vegetables that you want to eat. Plant only enough for your family and friends. If you have extras, try canning, freezing, or donating them to a food pantry. Easy and nutritious summer crops include tomatoes, beans, carrots, squash, eggplant, peppers, and cucumbers. Lettuce and greens can be grown all year utilizing succession planting. Harvest your artichokes, cabbages, Brussel Sprouts, Swiss Chard, and kale now.Brussel Sprouts.jpeg
  2. Save the dried seeds from arugula to plant in the fall. Dried arugula seed pods.jpeg
  3. Embrace the ugly, deformed, blemished, and bruised fruit and veggies as they still will pack a punch. ugly fruit-veggies.jpeg
  4. 2. Use all parts of an edible plant. Stems of parsley, cilantro, oregano, broccoli, and more are often discarded. Chop them up and use them in stir-fries, salads, soups, and sauces. They are full of flavor and vitamins. Get creative with your recipes.oregano.jpeg
  5. 3. Compost, compost, compost. You don’t need to have a green thumb to create healthier soil by recycling nutrient-rich eggshells, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grinds, tea leaves, brown paper bags, bread, grains, citrus rinds, and noodles. Keep a small, covered bin under your sink. When it is full,  transfer the contents to a compost pile or bin outdoors to age. Upgrade your garden with leftovers and watch your vegetables grow strong.cabbage.jpeg
  6. 4. Shop smartly. Before going to the grocery store or Farmer’s Market, make a list of what you will consume until your next shopping foray. Don’t buy items you won’t need because they are on sale or you are hungry.
  7. 5. Expiration dates are not death dates. Food packages exhibit dates when the product is at its best. The “sell by” or “use by” date is not a “throw this away” date. The over-cautiousness leads to excess waste. The USDA recommends looking for changes in color, flavor, consistency, and smell before tossing. If spoiled, compost it.

We all have the ability and the responsibility to eliminate food waste which will also help towards reducing climate change. It’s time we start acting like the birds and animals, eating what’s fresh and only what we need. Perhaps when we start doing that, there will be enough for everyone, everywhere. zucchini blossoms.jpeg

I’m enjoying my basket of sweet cherries while listening to the chorus of chirping fowls. A slice of my daughter-in-law’s cherry pie will be my Independence Day treat. The birds may know best. Time to sing.

Home grown-cherry pie.jpeg

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Have a safe and fun 4th of July!

Read :

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1509/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-The-birds-know-best.html

Cynthia-red, white, blue.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.

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpgBuy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

What Plants are more Fire Resilient?

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
What Plants are more Fire Resilient?

Bonica shrub roses.jpeg

Normally the sound of weed-whackers disrupts the tranquility of living the soulful country life, but this year, I am grateful to hear their constant buzzing. With a summer of historical dryness in front of us bringing a looming fire danger, cutting the grasses on hillsides, paths, and in backyards is imperative. I’ve been working on my property since early February weeding, cutting, pruning, mulching, repairing, and planting in preparation for a hot, dangerous year. You are encouraged to walk through your landscape and make sure you are also ready for whatever may transpire. We want to keep our community picturesque as well as safe. We all play a part in protecting our precious land and lives.

Flammable grass on hillside..jpeg

My articles on creating an Emergency Go-Bag (https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1507/Packing-an-emergency-Go-Bag.html) and Wildfire Protection through Landscaping

(https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1507/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Wildfire-protection-through-landscaping.html) elicited numerous emails and comments. The number one request was to supply a list of plants that would be fire-retardant and fire-resistant.

When planning a new garden or adding plants to an existing landscape, it is essential to be reminded that no plant is fire-proof. Everything can and will burn if the temperature is hot enough. Also, even if a plant tag indicates that it is fire-resistant, it must be properly maintained, pruned, irrigated, spaced, and positioned in the correct locations to thrive. Plants that have been infested with pests, are too old, or are stressed will be more flammable. Plants that are not nurtured could create a problem for other vegetation. Inspect your botanicals carefully. 

GARDEN ZONES

ZONE 1: DEFENSIBLE ZONE

Plants within 30 feet of a structure need to be considered for fire-retardance. This is Zone 1, the defensible space of your garden which will be able to withstand extreme heat and flying embers. Plants need to be watered thoroughly, trees are preferably deciduous, and the leaves of plants will be moist, fleshy, and broad.

Groundcovers for this area include:

Lawn grasses

Ajuga

Isotoma

Gazania

Alyssum

Moss

Nasturtium

Vinca

Dwarf Plumbago

Chamomile

Zone 1 Perennials include:

Acanthus

Agapanthus

Artemisia

Bergenia

Canna

Dusty Miller

Shasta Daisy

Chrysanthemum

Coreopsis

Foxglove

Ferns

Geranium

Daylilies

Impatiens

Hosta

Heuchera

Penstemon

Pelargonium

New Zealand Flax

Lamb’s Ear

Calla lilies

Bird of Paradise

Zone 1 Shrubs include:

Rose

Privet

Boxwood

Camellia

Photinia

Mock Orange

Gardenia

Hibiscus

Pittosporum

Azalea

Rhododendron

Lilac

Viburnum

Oleander

Zone 1 Vines include:

Clematis

Trumpet Vine

Grape

Jasmine

Bower Vine

Wisteria

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Zone 1 Trees include:

Fruit trees

Magnolia

Maple

Redbud

Birch

Pineapple Guava

Dogwood

Crape Myrtle

Liquid Amber

Ornamental Pear

Pepper Tree

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ZONE 2: FUEL BREAK

From 31 feet to 70 feet from a structure, and even further up on slopes, is the greenbelt area which is designed to halt the fire. Plants in this area are the most fire-retardant with low fuels and high moisture content. These plantings can withstand neglect, freezes, droughts, and even insect infestations and still be fire-retardant. Ground covers don’t grow over 18 inches. Trees and shrubs have space between them. In general, although succulents and cactus may not survive a fire, they are the best at retarding one.

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Zone 2 Groundcovers include:

Succulents

Ice plant

Yarrow

Artemisia

Morning glory

Coreopsis

Santa Barbara Daisy

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Wild strawberry

Gazania

Primrose

Osteospermum

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Clover

Verbena

Zone 2 Perennials include:

Yarrow

Dusty Miller

California Poppy

Iris

Gaura

Euphorbia

Chrysanthemum

Coreopsis

Statice

Candytuft

Lupine

Red-Hot Poker

Sage

Yucca

Zone 2 Shrubs include:

Succulents

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Cactus

Oleander

Pomegranate

Rockrose

Zone 2 Vines include:

Virginia Creeper

Lady Banks Rose

Honeysuckle

Nightshade

Senecio Confusus

Zone 2 Trees include:

Carob

Strawberry Tree

Redbud

Honey Locust

Chinese Pistache

California Black Oak

Sumac

Yucca

Joshua Tree

GENERAL FIRE-RESISTANT PLANTS

Although no plant is 100% fire-proof, these plants are less likely to burn. Several are already listed for Zones 1 and 2.  

Bulbs (tulips, daffodils, iris, hyacinth, freesia, etc. Cut stalks to the ground when leaves are dry)

California redbud

Sage

Penstemon

Heather

Fuchsia

Columbine

Thyme

Poppy

Wild strawberry

Common yarrow

French lavender

Lantana

Lilac

Coreopsis

Ajuga

California lilac

Society garlic

Jasmine

Periwinkle

Alliums

Dianthus

Yellow or Purple Ice Plant

Creeping Phlox

Lamium

Sedum

Succulents

Veronica

Armeria

Agapanthus

Trumpet Vine

Daylily

Heuchera

Hosta

Red-Hot Poker

Lupine

Delphinium

Echinacea

Lamb’s ear

Yucca

Rose

Salvia

Evening primrose

Daphne

Boxwood

Rhododendron

Spirea

Dogwood

Mock orange

Azalea

Currant

Viburnum

Aloe

Primrose

Candytuft

African Daisy

Calendula

TREES:

Horse Chestnut

Liquid Amber

Honey Locust

Crabapple

Purple Robe Locust

Fruit Trees (varieties of cherry, plum, pear, peach, apricot, pomegranate, fig)

Black Oak

Hawthorne

Birch

Aspen

Poplar

Maple

Manzanita (prune without deadwood)

Walnut 

California Bay Laurel

California Pepper

Remember that deciduous plants are less flammable than evergreen. Gray and silver plants have a high mineral and ash content which makes them more fire-resistant. Vegetation with needles or fine, thin leaves is flammable. The more stored moisture a plant has, the more it can withstand a fire. Use less-flammable types of mulch, such as gravel or decorative rock, or a combination of wood bark mulch and decorative rock to dress your garden, retain moisture, and deter weed growth.

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To burn, fires need fuel. By removing debris, planting and maintaining a fire-retardant and fire-resistant landscape, cutting down dead trees, thinning dried branches, spacing, pruning, watering, and keeping trees away from roofs, you will dimmish the chance of ignition, lower fire intensity, and reduce the spread of a blaze. Your home will have a better chance of surviving a wildfire. 

Best of all, you can still create a gorgeous oasis where you can entertain, relax, and socialize.

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You don’t want fires to crawl fueled by unkempt low-lying vegetation, high grasses, or mounds of leaves.  Get out the weed whackers and go to work.  Be fire safe and enjoy a wonderful summer. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Congratulations to the graduates and Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads.

Photos and more:

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1508/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fire-retardant-and-fire-resistant-plantings.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.

cyn-exhausting garden day.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.

cynthia brian's books.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Landscaping for Fire Prevention

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Empowerment
Landscaping for Fire Prevention

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By Cynthia Brian

“Fire is never a gentle master.” Proverb

This past year most of our conversations have revolved around the pandemic, masking wearing, and questions about recovery and normalcy. With the impending drought, an urgent topic that is on the minds of Californians is the potential for wildfires. With increasing climate changes and the trend of global warming, it is not a matter of if we’ll be faced with fires, it is when. 

We can do our part to protect our property as best as possible through firescaping, a landscape design that reduces house and property vulnerability to wildfire. While enhancing the beauty of the property and creating a defensible space, we surround the house with plants that are less likely to ignite. Fires respect no boundaries and fires don’t honor property lines. With enough heat, almost everything burns.

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

A defensible space is an area around a structure that has been cleared of ignitable debris and botanicals that may cause a public safety hazard. A watered, green lawn can be considered a defensible space. A large brick, stone, or gravel area could be part of a defensible space.

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No plant is fireproof. 

Under the right conditions, every plant will burn, especially those that are drought-stressed or not maintained. Pruning of all plants makes them less flammable. A “fire-safe” plant means that it tends not to be a significant fuel source with a chemical composition that resists heat and combustion. It is critical to keep plants around our homes well-tended and pruned as a fire protection tool. The closer plants are to the house, the more care is needed. 

Every homeowner is responsible for managing their vegetation to meet Fire District requirements. For MOFD requirements, combustible materials must be two feet away from a structure and plantings no taller than two feet high. Low-growing ground coverings and green grass are suitable as well as river rock, gravel, or crushed granite. Trees that are within six feet of the structure need to be removed, specifically eucalyptus, pine, bamboo, and junipers.

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

Characteristics of highly flammable flora

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

Characteristics of reasonably fire-resistant plants?

  • o Hardy, slow-growing plants that don’t produce litter or thatch.
  • o Drought tolerant natives with internal high-water content. Generally, but not always, California natives are more tolerant of fire and deer.
  • o Trees with thick bark that restrict the growth of invasive shrub species and hardwood trees such as walnut, cherry, maple, and poplar are less flammable. Deciduous trees and shrubs are more fire-resistant because they have higher moisture content when in leaf, lower fuel volume when dormant, and usually do not contain flammable oils.
  • o Supple, moist leaves with little to no sap or resin residue.
  • o Low growing ground covers.
  • o Bulbs with dried leaves cut to the ground.
  • o What can you do now to create a more fire-resistant landscape?
  • o Include pavers, bricks, pavement, gravel, rocks, dry creek beds, fountains, ponds, pools, and lawns. 
  • o Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground with a low sap and resin content
  • o Plant the right plant in the correct location. Leave space between plants.
  • o Minimize the inclusion of evergreen trees within thirty feet of structures. Clear the understory. Keep trees twenty feet away from chimneys. 
  • o Remove invasive species or swaths of flammable plants including ivy, rosemary, broom, coyote brush, chamise, and juniper.
  • o Keep mulch moist. Create zones of rock, brick, or gravel. Bark and leaves are not mulches recommended near structures.
  • o Prune trees 6-10 feet above the ground to hinder fire laddering.
  • o Keep appropriate clearance to reduce the threat of burning embers from decorative features such as gazebos, fences, sheds, porches, and junk areas.  
  • o Irrigate and maintain all flora, lawns, and hillsides. Clover, groundcovers, and grasses that are kept low and green are excellent alternatives. 
  • o Due to soil erosion, bare ground is not recommended.
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Prone to Ignite Plants

If you have these specimens in your garden, prune and maintain appropriately or eliminate them.

Acacia

Arborvitae or Thuya

Bamboo

Greasewood or Chamise

French, Spanish, and Scotch Broom

Ivy

Cypress

Eucalyptus

Juniper

Burning Bush or Gas plant

Pampas Grass

Palm

Pine

Rosemary

Cedar

Douglas Fir

Coyote Bush

Pride of Madeira 

General Rules of Fire Safety

HEED the checklist from our local fire departments to create a defensible space around your home.  Follow fire district recommendations:

  • o Prevent embers from igniting your home by clearing leaves, needles, and debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks.
  • o Mow grasses and weeds.
  • o Keep your garden watered.
  • o Prune tree limbs to keep the lowest branches 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • o Reduce “fire fuel laddering” by not allowing bushes or trees to touch one another.
  • o Keep combustible materials 15-30 feet away from structures.
  • o Maintain your property and be alert for any fire danger.
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Weed abatement must be completed by June 1st. Get out there and get your landscape more fire-resistant. We all have a responsibility to one another to help keep our community from experiencing a wildfire. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Be fire safe.

Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1507/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Wildfire-protection-through-landscaping.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 best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

cyntha brian with books.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Listen to StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are! on the Voice America Radio Network Wednesdays 4-5pm PT LIVE or in the archives at https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are

GARDEN PARTY PREP WITH the Goddess Gardener, cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
GARDEN PARTY PREP WITH the Goddess Gardener, cynthia Brian

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian
Azaleas do well in shady areas and will bloom profusely. Photos Cynthia Brian

“I was reared in the garden, you know.” ~ Emily Dickenson
If you are like most people who have been hibernating and following CDC social distancing protocols during the pandemic, you are probably itching for a gathering of friends and family. If you have been vaccinated (and, I hope you have), small outdoor get-togethers without masks are considered relatively safe.
Is your garden and patio area ready for a party? While many people have baked bread, learned to crochet, or tackled puzzles, I have been busy helping clients prepare their landscapes for small garden shindigs as well as creating quiet spaces as a peaceful, restorative sanctuary.
You don’t have to do an entire expensive makeover to make your place look pretty and presentable. There are several ways to get a streamlined look on a budget that you can afford.
I call these “garden hacks” and I’ll share suggestions with you.
Walk around your exterior perimeter and take notes. What areas need more TLC? Do you have debris anywhere or everywhere? What about weeds, broken or dead branches, or an overabundance of fallen leaves? The first thing you want to do is clean. Remove whatever is broken and not fixable, recycle or re-purpose other items. Rake the leaves and put them in the compost pile or green bin. With pruning shears, cut any dead branches on shrubs or trees and remove dead or dry foliage.
Next, tackle the weeds. If weeds are growing in beds, it is best to pull them by hand. If they are on a hillside or area without many other plants, you might be able to use a weed-eater. My preference is always hand-pulling to get the roots. Pulling out the roots ensures that they won’t sprout again this season.
Once your garden is free of weeds, check the soil. If it is hard and compacted, it behooves you to bring in bags of enriched compost before planting. Soil is the foundation of verdant growth. With our glorious spring weather, blooming flowers, trees, and shrubs are in abundance at nurseries and garden centers. Before it gets too hot, you’ll want to add any shrubs or color spots. Until plantings are established, you will need to water deeply and often. I prefer to plant colorful perennials, biennials, and bulbs that will return in future seasons. Some of my favorites are azaleas, foxgloves, delphinium, lavender, roses, and calla lily, all available in several colors. To soften a fence or arbor, I recommend clematis, honeysuckle, or jasmine. Wisteria is a strong, spreading vine that requires heavy-duty support systems. Also, seek drought-tolerant species and succulents. In my garden, I like to create a painter’s palette of color with minimal spacing between plants, however, strategically placing just a few select plants is impressively impactful.
Ornamental grasses are easy to care for and add a natural stream-like flow to a garden. Clumping bamboo is excellent as a rustling screen that blows in the breeze. Both offer a feeling of serenity and calmness to any space.
After you have planted, you’ll want to top-dress with mulch to enhance the aesthetics, increase moisture retention, and minimize weed growth. You can buy wood chips in at least three different colors: red, black, and forest brown by the bag or you can order other varieties in bulk. Any flammable mulches such as chips, bark, straw, or pine needles must be distanced two feet from structures as per the fire ordinance. Gravel or rocks can be placed around the structure as a preventive measure.
Add steppingstones surrounded by small pebbles or pea gravel to enhance a dirt path. Gravel and rocks add texture, and the crunching sound is soothing. If your porch or deck needs refinishing and that project is not in your current plan or budget, buy inexpensive indoor/outdoor carpeting or rugs in natural tones to temporally cover the flaws and make walking comfortable and splinter-free.
When it comes to patio furniture, take an inventory of the condition of what you have. Can it last another summer with a bit of cleaning and updating? Do you need new pillows and pads, or can you just wash and refresh the ones you own? I recently worked on a project where the homeowners were going to discard their table and chairs because they were rusting. Their dilemma was that they didn’t have the time nor the money to invest in new patio furniture before a scheduled garden get-together for a few vaccinated friends. My suggestion was to use a little elbow grease: scrub, sand, and spray-paint. It took only a couple of hours, and the result was that the set looked brand new. Painting is one of the greatest hacks offering immediate, inexpensive results.
Another hack that I employ regularly is adding cut seafoam statice to area pots or beds where a little pizzaz is needed. Bunches of straw-like statice will hold their purple color for weeks without additional water. Shaded areas with comfortable seating invite a cooling, quieting, and relaxing experience. Umbrellas add sophistication to a patio and two or three strips of vintage- looking LED Edison-bulb lighting to provide a warm inviting glow in the evening. Lay a row of tube lights on the ground behind hedges for ethereal illumination.
The smart choice when planning the party bites is to offer individually cupped appetizers to eliminate people double-dipping. Home-grown (or farmers’ market) carrots, celery, and peppers cut into long slices standing on top of hummus in tiny tableware mount a pretty display as well as a nutritious one. Cones with charcuteries adorned with springs of rosemary, orange slices, and berries will entice any carnivore. For drinks, individual bottles or cans of favorite beverages will quench thirsty friends. Glasses can be marked with the names of the guests.
Finally, fresh, free-flowing flower arrangements picked from a profusion of blooms from your garden will be a conversation starter. The ones I created for the event were a mixture of calendula, Jupiter’s beard, Mexican sage, mixed with mock orange which added a heady perfume to the outdoor occasion. After the festivities, the bouquets became fragrant favorites indoors.
I was reared in the garden and am proud of being a nature lady. By using these simple hacks, you are ready to host your outdoor garden party with your vaccinated friends. Give it your best shot!
Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.
REMINDERS
– Compliance deadline for wildfire risk is June 1. Make sure to cut your tall grasses, prune tree limbs to a minimum of six feet from the ground and away from roofs. Keep two feet of combustible ground covers including bark or mulch away from structures. Gravel is a good medium to use in this area. Also, plantings need to have a one-foot clearance above the ground. Clean out gutters and roof area of debris. Trim trees away from chimneys and remove flammable liquids and other matter away from your home.
– Once your daffodils, tulips, woodland hyacinths, and Naked ladies’ foliage have dried, remove them from the plant. By allowing the leaves to yellow, the plant is receiving its nutrition to develop flowers for the next season. The leaves can be added to the compost pile.
– Keep a bucket in your shower and use the water on your indoor plants.
– Empty all outdoor vessels of standing water. Even a teacup saucer will breed mosquitoes.
– Snakes are now out and about. Garter, King, and gopher snakes are great friends to our gardens.
Calla lilies are elegant and flower annually. Photos Cynthia Brian
Purple statice fills the back of a former solar light pelican Photos Cynthia Brian
The former dirt path is improved with black pebbles, steppingstones, and lined with mulch. Photos Cynthia Brian
As a highlight to your vaccinated outdoor gathering, make charcuterie cones with a slice of orange and a sprig of rosemary. Photos Cynthia Brian
Before planting, starting to put mulch, mostly bare ground.
After planting with mulch the appearance is much more appealing.
The repainted table holds a loose arrangement picked from the garden: calendula, Mexican sage, Jupiter’s beard, and mock orange blossoms.
Sliced celery, peppers, and carrots in an individual cup of hummus are a tasty appetizer.
A blue clematis is a great addition to a fence or arbor. .
 Cynthia Brian in the spring garden with purple wisteria

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!r 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyler Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com

No Showers for May Flowers

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
No Showers for May Flowers

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“My garden is my most beautiful work of art” – Claude Monet

We’ve all heard the adage, “April showers bring May flowers!”  We have the flowers this year, but April precipitation did not materialize. 2021 is lining up to be the third driest year in the history of California. And that means that we must be more diligent than ever to prepare our properties for a season of increased wildfires.

I have been weeding my property with every spare minute since February. It is essential to pull out weeds by the roots, else they return promptly. This is round three and the resulting garden is looking beautiful.  I’ve been experimenting with mixing flowers of iridescent pinks with buttery yellows and pumpkin orange accented by sky blue and bold purple. The palette has taken on an Impressionistic essence of which Monet would be proud.

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April and May have always been my favorite months because of the plethora of blooms, birds, and fragrances. The perfume of the jasmine permeates the morning air, the lilac scents the afternoon sunshine, while the wisteria and mock orange infuse the evening with glorious aromas. 

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My two thornless Lady Banksia rose bushes with their profusion of creamy double-petaled flowers have commandeered thirty linear feet of a fence as well as twined to the tops of a plum and chestnut tree.

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The flowering cherry tree showcases puffy blossoms resembling pink snowballs. The mock orange tree’s white blooms are candy for the bees. The cerise flowers of the Western redbud tree offer a gorgeous contrast to the unfurling green leaves of the honey locust trees. Under a canopy of pines and surrounded by white calla lilies and lacy hemlock, a New Zealand hawthorn brightens the verdant scene with clouds of blush blooms.

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Bearded irises in a variety of colors are delicate and fragrant. Azaleas and camellias thrive in the shadow of the redwoods. Freesias, tulips, daffodils, calendulas, anemones continue their carnival of blooms. Despite the lack of rain, the spring display is splendor in the grass.

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In many parts of the country, people wait until after Mother’s Day to start planting their vegetables but because of the warmth of this season, I advise that you get started soon. Getting children involved with planting vegetables and herbs will encourage them to eat what they plant. After researchers spent time with children in Central Texas who had gardens and gardening classes at their schools, they discovered that the nutrition of both parents and children improved. Also, those who participated began enjoying more vegetables. 

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If you are planning a vegetable patch, buy pint or quart size containers of your favorite vegetables. Don’t attempt to plant everything you see at the nursery. Only plant what you and your family love. For example, for my spring veggie garden, I’ve planted nine varieties of tomatoes as I’m a tomato snob. I only eat tomatoes in season and prefer only tomatoes that I, a friend, or a family member grows. Also planted are eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers. Already growing are a plethora of herbs including basil, oregano, fennel, sage, thyme, dill, cilantro as well as leafy greens of arugula, sorrel, lettuce, and sugar snap peas, artichokes, onions, chives, strawberries, and broccoli. 

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Make sure that you rotate your crops from year to year so as not to deplete the soil. Most summer vegetables require a minimum of six hours of sunlight. Read and follow the instructions that come with your plant.

Another beautiful, long-flowering, and excellent fresh-cut for arrangements is the dahlia. Although they are supposed to be deer-resistant, the deer that graze around my property seem to find them delicious.  I don’t advise dahlias to be planted in areas where you have marauders. Dahlias produce large, colorful blooms and are a welcome addition to any garden. Here’s how to get them started in your landscape:

  1. 1. Choose a well-drained area with plenty of sunlight.
  2. 2. Plant the tubers after the danger of frost have passed.
  3. 3. Dig a hole about a foot deep and amend with compost or potting soil.
  4. 4. Place the tuber flat and cover with the amended soil.
  5. 5. Make a patch of dahlias spaced 12-36” apart for maximum impact.
  6. 6. Water immediately.
  7. 7. After sprouting, pinch off the side buds to allow the central blowers to be larger.
  8. 8. Deadhead as flowers fade to maintain blooming. 
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Because of the arid times in which we are living, make sure to cut all tall wild grasses, trim limbs up from the ground six to ten feet to prevent fire laddering, and clear a safety zone around your home. Clean out gutters, remove debris, be cautious when barbecuing and careful around the fire pit. Keep gardens irrigated, watering early in the morning or early in the evening. Be diligent and responsible to help prevent a fire from igniting. Pray for rain yet be prepared for drought. 

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Mother’s Day is approaching and a welcome gift for mom can always be found in the garden. Consider a bubbling fountain, birdhouse, or colorful annuals to plant. Make a simple arrangement using flowers from the garden accompanied by a garden book that will be treasured always.

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Whatever you do, let your Mom know how much she means to you whether it is through a virtual visit or an in-person brunch, picnic, or walk. Moms love the little remembrances and deserve accolades, at least once a year!

Spring is the time to savor the beauty surrounding you. If you’ve ever been to Giverny in France, you will know that Monet was not exaggerating about his garden being his most beautiful work of art. He was inspired by nature and you can be too. Be an artist and create your masterpiece in your garden.

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Mother’s Day!

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1505/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-May-flowers-without-the-showers.html

Cynthia Brian-Spring garden.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 best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Weeds!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Weeds!

Camellias in full .jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1504/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Weeds-weeds-and-more-weeds.html

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian
The hillside is lush with weeds, poppies, calendulas, geraniums, and other plants. Photo Cynthia Brian

“You may know the world is a magical place when Mother Nature creates her own jewelry.” ~ Maya Angelou
 Spring is the most colorful season of the year with a cornucopia of bulbs, flowers, shrubs, and trees in bloom. It is also the time when Mother Nature shares the ornaments that most gardeners loathe . weeds!
 Although I am aware that a weed is just a plant growing where I don’t want it, this year those plants are in profusion everywhere. My garden is bursting with blooms, blossoms and weeds. For the past month, I have spent hours on my knees pulling the roots of numerous unwanted characters to edit my beds to my definition of beauty. Three types of weeds in my landscape are the most egregious: black medic, Carolina geranium, and common grasses that have blown in from the surrounding hills.
 The best method to eradicate and control weeds organically involves several steps. First, it is essential to pull the weeds with the roots attached as they develop. The goal is to get rid of the weeds when they are sprouting and, definitely before they set and scatter seeds. Second, enrich the soil with compost. You will find more weeds will emerge because of the nutrient-rich soil.
 Third, go back to step one and remove the second batch of weeds. Fourth, top-dress with three inches of organic mulch which can be bark, straw, cocoa chips, shredded leaves, or even grass clippings.
 I am always experimenting with how best to accomplish a weed-free garden. Here are some things I discovered this year:
 1. The most densely growing patches of weeds, especially Carolina geranium and hill grasses, were in areas where I had only amended with shredded leaves or had done nothing at all.
 2. Where I added two inches of enriched soil without any top dressing, weeds grew lush and full but were easily pulled by hand.
 3. In beds where I only added wood chips, a smattering of weeds emerged, mostly black medic.
 4. In places where I had brought in new soil and topped it with wood chips, there were fewer weeds easily yanked by hand.
 5. In areas where I did a two-step mulch of shredded newspaper and cardboard topped with bark, there were minimal to no weeds. My observations indicate that a two-step mulching procedure worked the best. It is more labor-intensive yet effective.
 Carolina geranium (Geranium carolinianum), also known as cranesbill because of its profusion of half-inch beaks after flowering, is a very dainty and pretty weed when it is young. The palmate leaves are lacy, fern-like, with hairy petiole stalks and tiny five-petaled pink flowers.
 For the first month, after it sprouts, it resembles a ground cover. As the weather warms, it seeks the sunlight while branching out two feet or more. The seed has a hard core which allows it to withstand a long dormancy in the soil. Carolina geranium is not edible, but its roots, considered anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and astringent, are used as an external medicinal herb to stop bleeding and as a gargle for sore throats. Hand pulling while it is still young is the best control method.
 Black medic (Medicago lupulina), also known as yellow trefoil or hop medic, is a broadleaf plant that looks like clover with yellow flowers. It establishes itself in areas that have endured drought, in disturbed soils, or those in need of increased irrigation. As a legume, it fixes its own nitrogen which helps it to overcome lawn grasses in nutrient-poor soils. When the flowers mature, they form a black seedpod which lends itself to the name. A friend of mine informed me about its nutritional value as an herb. In Mexico, black medic is highly desired as an edible green and is expensive to buy. The leaves are bitter when eaten raw, but when cooked, taste like spinach or collards with a high amount of protein and fiber. It does have antibacterial qualities and is also considered a mild laxative. Bees are attracted to this plant. It makes marvelous green manure. To control black medic, it is critical to hand-weed making sure to pull out the taproot.
 Many of the hillsides are experiencing a super bloom of California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) mixed with purple vetch. Having grown up with these beautiful orange globes and vetch, when I witness them growing as natives, I am overjoyed by nature’s jewelry. California poppies are the state flower of California. Purple vetch, also known as American vetch (Vicia americana) or hairy vetch, is a native nitrogen-fixing cover crop that our family used to feed our cattle on our ranch. It is considered a weed, but I think of it as a valuable wildflower because it is great fodder for wildlife while adding biomass to the soil. The plant attracts beneficial insects to the garden and the flowers entice bees. Growing alongside vegetables, it acts as a living mulch. Vetch is a climber to about two feet and spreads through rhizomes. To control it, cut and leave on the surface of the soil to suppress other weeds. Native Americans consumed vetch as a food and used it for poultices.
 Make sure to consult a medical professional before consuming or externally applying any plant that you are unfamiliar with. Although many plants are herbs and helpful, individuals could have conditions that could make ingesting or topically using the plant reactive and dangerous.
 Once you’ve managed the weeds, you will enjoy the bounty of blooms erupting in our neighborhoods. Lilacs, wisteria, hyacinths, tulips, bluebells, calendulas, freesias, Chinese fringe flowers, Dutch iris, bearded iris, Santa Barbara daisies, osteospermum, azaleas, camellias, jasmine, redbud, and even roses are bursting with color. (Make sure to pick up fallen camellias to maintain the health of your shrub.) Fruit trees continue their parade of blossoms including cherry, apple, pear, crabapple and Asian pear.
 The grass is green, the weather is mild, and our gardens are the place where we can unwind and connect with the magical natural world. Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 and nurture our planet by protecting and appreciating our natural environment. Recycle, reuse, repurpose, reduce. Weed, seed, feed.
 Your home will shine with Mother Nature’s colorful plant jewelry.

 PLANT SALE: The Orinda Garden Club is holding a plant sale on April 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Orinda Library Plaza with members propagated plants plus over 30 varieties of tomato seeds, a Firewise demonstration table, and a garden marketplace. The event will be socially distanced and well-spaced outdoors throughout the Orinda Library Plaza. Look for your special seedlings at this local plant sale. Proceeds will benefit educational projects.
 Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.
A favorite of the April garden, wisteria springs into bloom. Photo Cynthia Brian
After the wind, the camellia blooms carpet the ground and must be removed. Photo Cynthia Brian
The pretty palmate leaves and pink buds of Carolina geranium weed look like a ground cover. Photo Cynthia Brian
The hillside is a bit barren after the weeds have been pulled. Photo Cynthia Brian
The clover-like tendrils of Black medic weed entwine around the Naked Lady fronds.
Without enriched soil, thistles and other weeds thrive.
A hillside of California poppies and purple vetch look like Impressionistic art.
Gorgeous lilacs perfume the garden.
The delicate orange petals of a California poppy are elegant.
Cynthia Brian reminds gardeners to pick up fallen camellia flowers to avoid disease to the mother tree.
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!r 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyler Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com



Easter Parade

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Empowerment
Easter Parade

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian
For a burst of bright color and wildlife resistance, the spring flowering freesia is fantastic. Photos Cynthia Brian

By Cynthia Brian

“It was Easter Sunday. The full-blossomed trees filled all the air with fragrance and with joy.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Spanish Student

Blossoming fruit trees, poppies adorning hillsides, and daffodils illuminating walking paths . the sirens of the start of spring have sprung. As seedlings pop through the soft soil and new green growth emerges on hedges, trees and vines, uninvited wildlife visitors tend to hop, fly, scamper, and trot into our landscapes.
Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail, followed by the families of Bambi, Tom Turkey, and Squiggly Squirrel. A buffet feast awaits their arrival in our rose beds, perennial gardens, and vegetable patches.
What is a human to do to protect our precious landscapes from invaders?
Although repellents promise perimeter patrolling, I have not found any that completely protect my premises. As much as I admire these furry, feathered and fluffy “friends,” I don’t want them munching my flowers, foliage, sprouts and shrubs. How can we find a way for the realms of nature to co-exist?
Here are few suggestions:
1. Fencing is the most effective deterrent for deer and rabbits. Although the bunnies can’t jump over a 6-foot fence, to keep deer out of our gardens, we need to erect 9-foot enclosures. Sadly, squirrels scurry from trees to fence rails. Turkeys fly over fences.
2. Drive around your neighborhood to see what kinds of plants are thriving. Consider using what grows well in your area.
3. During dry months, some sprays may be effective, including Liquid Fence which, according to the company, is natural, biodegradable, non-toxic, and safe for the environment with rotten eggs being the main ingredient. Supposedly wildlife can smell the stink up to two weeks after humans can no longer smell the stench.
4. Sprinkle blood meal on flowers and foliage. The problem I have experienced with this method, however, is that it attracts raccoons and skunks! Not a winning suggestion.
5. Unless you have fencing and/or containment, avoid using plants that are known to be delicacies such as roses, fruit, and leafy greens. If you plant tasty treats, the hungry nomads will find them.
6. Before buying large quantities of a plant, test the nibbling desire by buying a small container and placing it for two weeks in an area where the wildlife wander. Watch and wait.
7. Buy more mature plants in larger containers. Plants that have abundant leaves can tolerate the nipping and gnawing better than smaller specimens. Taller plants are less susceptible to damage when lower leaves are eaten. They recover more swiftly.
8. Don’t over water. The lusher the specimen, the more attractive it is for dinner. Drought-resistant vegetation is less likely to be gobbled.
9. Place pungent plants bordering areas that may be enticing. Mints, lantana, alyssum, marigolds, geraniums, catnip, strawflower, salvia, and scented geraniums may deter the diners.
10. Employ the use of motion detector outdoor lights and motion sensor sprinklers to scare the thieves away.
11. Build raised beds with removable wire tops.
12. Yell and scream and chase the trespassers away to let them know they are not welcome. (But sometimes they are so adorable you’ll want to snap some photos first!)
13. Don’t intentionally feed the nature critters.
14. When all else fails and you need help to trap the marauders, contact trapper Chris Davies of Full Boar Depradation, LLC at 925-698-1845, www.fullboar-llc.com. The insured company is licensed by the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife to hunt and trap offending wildlife.
Stems and leaves that are scratchy, thorny, hairy, fuzzy, bitter, spicy, sappy, stiff, leathery or toxic will keep the predators away as they hunt for their next meal. Most varieties of gray or silver-hued plants are usually not appreciated by the hungry hunters, either.
Although there is no such thing as wildlife-proof plants, here is a list of probable safe bets to introduce into your landscape.
Foxglove
Lavender
Peony
Sage
Society Garlic
Artemis
New Zealand Flax
Portulaca
Boxwood
Forsythia
Begonia
Calla Lily
Four O’Clock
Yarrow
Star Jasmine
Muscari
Ferns
Naked Ladies
Bearded Iris
Birds of Paradise
Hellebore
Columbine
Gazania
Primrose
Chinese Fringe Flower
Honeysuckle
Viburnum
Barberry
Butterfly bush
Silky Dogwood
Elderberry
Weigela
Spirea
Pink Bower Vine
Allium
Privet
Abelia
Cleome
Freesia
Iris
Blue star
Oregano
Fennel
Sunflower
Marigold
Calendula
Gladiola
Ornamental Grasses
Remember that no plants or trees are 100% animal-proof, but many are resistant. Do your homework to find the right plants for the correct place. Be diligent. Be watchful. Experiment.
The fragrance of spring fills the air and egg-citing Easter is nigh. I’m hoping that Peter Cottontail comes hopping down the bunny trail bringing baskets full of joy to every girl and boy. And mostly chocolate bunnies!
Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.
Happy Easter and Passover.

Save the Date The Orinda Garden Club is holding a plant sale on April 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Orinda Library Plaza with members propagated plants plus over 30+ varieties of tomato seeds, a Firewise demonstration table, and a garden marketplace. The event will be socially distanced and well-spaced outdoors throughout the Orinda Library Plaza. Look for your special seedlings at this local plant sale. Proceeds will benefit educational projects.
Blue star grass and mint are not appetizing to bunnies. Photos Cynthia Brian
Viburnum is tolerant, tough, and boast fragrant flowers. Photos Cynthia Brian
The fragrant flowers of the crabapple tree. Photos Cynthia Brian
Deer-resistant calendula surrounds the flowering arugula. Flowers are edible. Photos Cynthia Brian
Bunnies are adorable and for Easter; we prefer the chocolate ones.
Cynthia Brian sits in a garden of Muscari,, cyclamen, and lavender freesia.
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!r 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyler Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com

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Erin go Bragh!

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Empowerment
Erin go Bragh!

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Top of the morning to you!

“May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks

May your heart be as light as a song.

May each day bring you bright

Happy hours that stay with you all the year long.”  Irish blessing.

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My first introduction to the Emerald Isles arrived when I was seven. First grade was the beginning of my education since pre-school and kindergarten did not exist in our neck of the woods. A new school had been constructed with young teachers dressed from head to toe in black with white collars who arrived from a faraway land called Ireland. These exotic nuns told the most marvelous tales of a land where mischievous little people known as leprechauns lived in tiny houses, worked as shoemakers, and hid their gold in pots at the end of the rainbow.

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Magical green shamrocks blanketed the fields and dales that were used by the legendary St. Patrick in the 4th century to explain the Holy Trinity to those he wanted to convert to Christianity. Best of all, we learned he had driven out the snakes.

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Rattlesnakes were everywhere on our ranch so the thought of being able to run barefoot through a field of clover sounded spectacular. By the age of nine, letters were flying across the pond to my pen pal in Dublin and, finally when I was eighteen, I visited her in this mythical landscape to become an adopted Irishwoman. Since then, I’ve spent many days traversing the island, soaking up the hospitality of the people and the beauty of the stones, seascapes, landscapes, cottages, and shamrocks. Most charming are the tiny doors built at the base of trees where the leprechauns live.

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Shamrocks grow in my garden in the colors of pink and yellow. There are over five hundred species of Oxalis, known as sorrel or shamrock. Many people consider them a weed because they do multiply. Because I love the Irish lore, I love my spreading shamrocks. They grow from a small bulb and in March sprout mounds of beautiful green clover-shaped leaves with flowers that open at the top of the morning and close at the end of the day. I started my collection by growing shamrocks indoors in a pot and eventually moved the plants outdoors. When the foliage turns yellow and begins to die, cut the leaves to let the plant sleep. Next season, the shamrocks will burst forth again. The tiny bulbs or tubers can easily be moved or transplanted elsewhere. Be aware that shamrocks can become invasive. If you have a small yard, it may be best to keep them in a container. Or designate one area of your garden for the shamrocks and don’t allow them to escape.

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Wear green on March 17 and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a pot of shamrocks on your table. They may not bring you a pot of gold, but shamrocks are a reminder that once we can travel again, visiting the land of leprechauns is at the end of the rainbow.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Erin Go Bragh!

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

Since I’ve been writing this column since 2008, I often mistakenly assume that readers understand that I encourage the use of organic and safe garden practices for feeding, fertilizing, spraying, or eliminating pests. There are always ways to create a beautiful garden without the use of toxic chemicals, insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides. Keeping our children, pets, and wildlife safe and healthy is of the utmost importance. Whether I specific an organic method or not, please always use eco-friendly products. By doing so, we’ll also heal our planet.

ELIMINATE SNAILS: Non-toxic to children, chickens, and other pets, Sluggo and Natria are two organic baits containing iron phosphate which naturally occurs in soil. Non-ingested bait degrades and becomes part of the soil. 

Other ways to purge snails and slugs include:

  1. a. Handpicking them. I often go out at night with a flashlight and a bucket. If you have chickens, ducks, or geese, they’ll feast on escargot. Otherwise, at the risk of sounding cruel, you must kill them. We do the snail stomp. Put on boots and dance around. Other ways include drowning them in a bucket of water.
  2. b. Trapping them. Snails like to hide in damp, dark refuges under flowerpots, boards, or plants. Gather them in the morning after their nightly raid.
  3. c. Beer bowls. Snails are attracted to the fermenting yeast of beers. If you put out saucers or shallow bowls of beer, they will fall in. They don’t get drunk. They drown in the beer. 
  4. d. Copper barriers. Copper bands or strips are probably the most effective barrier to keep snails and slugs out of pots and plants. It is work-intensive and more expensive, but especially useful around trees.
  5. e. Decollate snails: These predatory snails have been used in Southern California to control young small brown snails in citrus groves. However, they cannot be used in Northern California as they would endanger other mollusk species. 

Once you have killed your snails, you can add them to your compost pile where their moist bodies will decompose quickly. The shells will take a bit longer but will add nutrients as they compost. 

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UPGRADE your outdoor living to be a place that encourages peacefulness and solitude. Create an area where you can work and listen to the sounds of nature.

SUPPORT National Farmworkers Awareness Week March 25-31 by purchasing produce from socially responsible vendors.

TRY a solar-powered sonic mole deterrent that emits vibrations through the ground to keep these velvety creatures at bay. Moles do produce unsightly molehills and undermine plants with their shallow tunnels which can cause roots to dry out. They also do positive chores by feeding on slugs. 

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STORE garbage cans out of reach of scavengers. Don’t feed wildlife. Skunks, raccoons, and coyotes have become frequent neighborhood visitors and can be dangerous.

FEED your lawns. Healthy soil grows healthy strong grass. Top your lawn with ¼ inch of compost or use a slow-release organic fertilizer that disseminates their nutrients through animal, plant, and mineral matter. It is best to fertilizer before rainfall. 

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TURN on lawn sprinklers to check the heads have not been covered by new growing grass. 

DESTROY weeds and poison oak without toxic chemicals. 

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For weeds in sidewalk cracks, borders, and areas where lawns, flowers, and other plants won’t be affected, mix one tablespoon Dawn dishwashing detergent, a cup of salt, and a gallon of regular white vinegar in a pail. Pour into a spray bottle and spray on the weeds on a sunny day. The sunlight works the magic. Be careful where you spray as this solution is harmful to grass and plants. It will kill your weeds.

For poison oak or super-tough weeds, buy a gallon of 30% white vinegar and put it in a spray tank undiluted. Spray poison oak as it emerges in spring and do it on a warm, sunny day. The 30% white vinegar is very potent and will kill everything it touches. It is the safe and effective alternative to using Round Up for a similar amount of money.  It also is useful for cleaning brick and stone patios, driveways, greenhouses, and hothouses. It will dissolve calcium, mineral, and lime buildup. 

SPRING for spring on March 20th.  Enjoy the rebirth of our gardens and start digging deeper.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Spring!

Photos and mores: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1502/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Top-of-the-Morning.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 best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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