Tag Archives

64 Articles

Pruning Roses

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Pruning Roses

Gertrud Jekyl climbing rose cascading.jpeg

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

 

Time to Prune Roses

By Cynthia Brian

“I love to prune my roses. That’s the one thing I really feel I do pretty well!” Julie Andrews

My roses are still blooming, and the bushes are filled with leaves. Yet, it is February and time to do the heavy pruning. My grapevines are already pruned, but I’ve been waiting for my roses to remember it is winter before I cut them back. Towards the middle to end of January used to be the optimum weeks to prune roses. Last year, I didn’t prune until late February and this year will be the same. Pruning any later in the season will deplete the plant’s energy resulting in spindly shoots. Normally within two months of pruning, the roses are once again touting their fragrant flowers. I gave over a hundred canes of my various roses to my neighbor last season. She rooted three or four canes per container of potting soil and by May those canes were blooming. 

rose from cane cut.jpeg

Ah, roses. They are one of nature’s super spectacular specimens. Fossil evidence in Oregon and Montana indicates that the rose dates back at least 35 million years, long before humans appeared on the landscape. Cultivation probably began in China more than five thousand years ago. In the seventeenth century, roses and rose water were used as payment for goods and barter. Late in the eighteenth century, China introduced cultivated roses to Europe. Throughout history, roses have been used for perfume, medicine, symbolism, and legal tender. 

David austin -The Long Garden_.jpeg

For many years, I’ve had the privilege of chatting with various expert rosarians across the globe. The one piece of advice that is common to all is the recommendation to lose the fear of pruning. Although there are guidelines for proper pruning, if you make a mistake, or don’t follow the directions, most likely the rose bush will survive despite your best efforts to give it a bad cut.

angelface rose.jpeg

The reasons for pruning are numerous. Pruning does the following:

1.     Creates a plant that will flower with high-quality blooms.

2.     Shapes the bush into an attraction that fits with the garden.

3.     Removes deadwood and diseased stems.

4.     Removes canes that are weak or rubbing against one another.

5.     Stimulates new growth.

Arizona rose.jpeg

Pruning is cathartic and good for the soul of humans! It is a garden chore that I always encourage a homeowner to do herself as opposed to hiring someone to do this chore. Tools of the trade include heavy-duty garden gloves, a sharp-edged pruning shear, and long-handled loppers for those thick canes. Sterilize your tools before you begin the task, then get up close and personal. 

rose cutting garden.jpeg

How to Prune:

 

Most roses are not fussy when it comes to how they are pruned. Repeat flowering shrub and bush roses are the most forgiving. English roses, hybrid teas, floribundas, patio, and miniatures can be pruned similarly. Reduce their height by 1/3 to 2/3 depending on how you want your plant to look and how tall you want the plant to grow. Thin stems to aid in disease control. 

arizona roses.jpeg

Since the goal of climbing and rambling roses is to climb and cover a pergola, fence, or other structure, only light pruning is necessary. Flowers are produced on side shoots which can be reduced to three or four buds, depending on the appearance you wish. If you must choose between cutting out an old shoot or a new shoot, always prune the old and save the new.

Lady of Shalott Climbng rose.jpeg

Many of the Old Roses like Gallicas, Damasks, and Albas that only bloom once will only flower on shoots from stems that are at least a year old. If you prune once-flowering roses too heavily, you will have no flowers. When they are five or six years old with tired-looking stems, you can cut them out to encourage new growth and flowering. 

princess of monaco rose.jpeg

After you have pruned, offer the healthy canes of non-trademarked species to friends and neighbors who would like to begin propagating roses. Or cultivate a new rose garden for yourself by dipping the canes in a rooting hormone then planting in a container with good quality potting soil.  Clean up any leftover stems, remove leaves from the bushes, and add to the compost pile.

clematis and yellw rose.jpeg

To add to your collection of roses, purchasing bare root and planting in February is a cost-saving way to go that will yield blooms in late spring. Once you’ve brought your bare roots home, soak them in a bucket of water overnight and then allow them to drain for thirty minutes before planting. Never allow the roots to dry out. Check the roots for any damage and trim as necessary. If the roots look good, do not trim or cut. 

mr lincoln roses.jpeg

Roses thrive in humus-rich, water-retentive soil with a pH of 6.5. Choose a bright, sunny location void of competition for root space, water, and nutrients. Improve the soil with rotted manure and compost and dig a generous size hole. Read directions on the package to determine the optimum hole size. Augment with mycorrhizal fungi to improve water supply and nutrients. Plant the bud union two inches below ground level. Water well. In spring, you’ll want to add a layer of mulch or compost around each plant and fertilize the roses. Companion plant with lavender to encourage beneficial insects to be on pest patrol.

princess of monaco rose.jpeg

Your roses will be lush, blooming, and beautiful just in time for barbecues and patio parties. By Mother’s Day, you’ll be picking bouquets. Instead of buying cut roses for Valentine’s Day, consider giving the gift of a potted rose plant. Miniatures make great gifts.

roses.jpeg

Now, back to pruning my roses because I do it pretty well, too!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Valentine’s. 

tournament of roses.jpeg

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1525/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Time-to-prune-roses.html

Cynthia Brian-office.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.

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Housemates with Houseplants

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Housemates with Houseplants

gree cymbidium orchids.jpeg

“Having plants in your house is a natural way to continuously clear yourself!” Doreen Virtue 

Forty-five! That’s the number of houseplants that filled my tiny dorm room on the 7th floor of Hedrick’s Hall during my freshman year at U.C.L.A. Every shelf, box, windowsill, wall hook, desk, and floor space were filled with a container sprouting something green. I had gone from being surrounded by nature on the farm to living in a high rise in the concrete jungle. My body, mind, and spirit craved a garden. I created an indoor oasis of easy-care houseplants that helped me breathe better in those days when Los Angeles was clogged with smog.

Eighteen! That’s the number of potted plants that currently grace my indoor space. The number doubles if you count containers on my porch and balcony. Most of my family of plants have been with me for decades. I have a fiddleleaf fig that began as a small specimen in a one-gallon pot that now towers to fifteen feet in my hall.

Fiddleleaf fig.jpeg

A precious peace lily that was gifted to me when Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul hit the New York Times bestseller list currently inhabits a nine-square-foot corner of my family room. An original four-inch size variegated bromeliad birthed pups and is a focal flora in my living room.

bromeliad.jpeg

My lucky bamboo growing in water peppered with pebbles soars three feet or more. 

Lucky Bamboo.jpeg

With winter keeping us from digging outside, indoor plants offer a way to garden in inclement weather while adding beauty to your interior décor. Even better than the attractiveness that plants bring to our designs, they are air-filtering workhorses as well. Air quality has become a big buzzword during the covid pandemic. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants convert the carbon dioxide we exhale and also remove gases from the air through a process called absorption. Back in 1989,  a NASA report concluded that “household plants could provide a “promising economical solution to indoor air pollution.” A 2020 study published in the Journal of Environmental Management indicated that it would take a green wall to improve the health index of an interior environment.  No matter which is truer, one thing is certain, being in nature as well as being surrounded by houseplants lowers our blood pressure, reduces stress, and improves mental health. 

snake plant.jpeg

Numerous specimens that make excellent houseplants. A few of my favorites include orchids, bromeliads, aloe, peace lily, snake plant, spider plant, pothos, dracaena, croton, fiddleleaf fig, dieffenbachia, anthurium, parlor palm, arrowhead plant, and lucky bamboo. All of these are very easy-to-maintain, offer gorgeous greenery, and can live for years with minimal proper care.

red anthurium, prayer plant.jpeg

To grow healthy, happy plants that will provide endless enjoyment and attractiveness, these elements are necessary.

1.     Provide the correct amount of light. 

Before you purchase any houseplant, look around your home for your light conditions. Some plants need bright light in a south window, others prefer the low light of a north-facing window.  Some like it hot, some like it cool. Do your homework. 

Croton.jpeg

2.     Water cautiously.

Many houseplants drown from over-watering. The lucky bamboo is one the rare specimen that thrives in water. Make sure that you have adequate drainage in all containers. Put gravel or small pebbles at the bottom of the pot. Poke a chopstick or pencil into the soil. If it comes out soggy, do not water. If it is dry, offer hydration to your plant friend. Plants may dry out more quickly in winter when forced air heaters are operating. Most plants may require water once a week or less. 

pothos houseplant.jpeg

3.     Fertilize according to directions.

Stop feeding plants in the winter. Start again in the spring. Leafy green plants will need nitrogen, plants that flower want phosphorous. 

dracaena compacta.jpeg

4.     Eradicate bugs.

Placing a clove of garlic in the soil is a great way to keep your friend bug-free. To kill bugs, place a clove of garlic in the soil. Mealybugs, aphids, and scale can be removed with a spray solution of water, alcohol, and dish detergent. The solution can also be rubbed on the leaves. Make sure to let the soil dry out if fungus gnats appear.

parlor palm arrowhead plant.jpeg

5.     Maintain humidity.

Cacti enjoy dry conditions; however, most plants prefer 50% humidity. In winter, our homes tend to be drier. If containers can be lifted, add a saucer of pebbles filled with water to increase the humidity, or spray with a fine mist. Another idea is to take your plant into your bathroom or shower. 

purple orchid.jpeg

6.     Trim spent blossoms and dead leaves.

When flowers are finished blooming, or leaves die, remove them as soon as possible to allow for new growth. 

spiderplant (1).jpeg

7.     Other things.

Always read the instructions on care before making a purchase. Turn all houseplants a quarter turn at least once every two weeks to maintain their shape as most will reach for the sunlight.  If you receive plants as gifts, make sure to remove wrapping to allow for good drainage. Living Christmas trees need to be moved outdoors. Depending on the size, you may be able to use the tree for next year’s holidays. Or you may need to transplant your tree into a larger container to keep on your patio.  If you are going to plant it in the ground, determine the placement carefully as these trees will grow into very large evergreens with expansive roots. 

One final interest of mine that is an educational and exciting experiment for children is rooting vegetables in a glass of water on a windowsill. Avocados, fennel, scallion, green onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and leeks grow quickly. Refresh the water daily. I currently am growing leeks and continue to use the green tops in my cooking.

rooting leeks in water.jpeg

With a little effort, your interiors will be healthier and more stunning with the introduction of living greens. Bring nature indoors with you while enjoying cleaner air living happily with your organic artistic housemates.

spiderplant.jpeg

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1524/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Houseplant-housemates.html

Cynthia--Better Lawns and Gardens  copy.jpg

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

A New Garden Year

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
A New Garden Year

Creek rushing.jpeg

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”

– William Blake

The rainy days and nights have been a welcome respite to our dry, drought-driven California. What a delight to witness hills of green and listen to the rushing waters in our creeks. In the past few weeks, seeds and weeds have germinated providing a lush look to every landscape. Green is the color of life, renewal, and most of all, nature. How fortunate we are to behold green spaces and places as the new year kicks off. 

After the recent atmospheric river, I went to check on the Brussel sprouts and sugar snap peas previously planted. To my surprise and delight, the gravel path was covered with sprouted arugula and nasturtium, a most delicious unplanned encounter. The seeds must have blown in from the vegetable garden bestowing a ready-made salad corridor.

path with arugula.jpeg

In another area, chamomile has covered the ground like a lavish lime carpet. Weeds, appearing as ground covers have made their appearance as well.

chamomile carpet.jpeg

The common cutleaf geranium, a wild weed also known as cut-leaved cranesbill, blankets my hillside. It is beautiful at this stage of its prostrate growth; however, it will prevent other plants from developing. By spring, it will sport tiny pink florets. The recommendation is to control its spread early as each plant will produce 150 seeds or more that will remain viable for 5 to 10 years! I have work to do.

Common cutleaf wild geranium.jpeg

In winter, wisteria is a tangle of bare branches. My purple wisteria has twined its way into my flowering pear which makes for an artistic tableau with the pear blossoms peeking out from the brambles.

wisteiar winter- pear blooms.jpeg

Fresh leaves have emerged on the loquat tree and the magnolia leaves are a shining brilliant green.

new growth-loquat tree.jpeg

new leaves on magnolia.jpeg

Society garlic, bergenia, narcissus, and roses offer additional color to the emerald landscape.

society garlic.jpeg

Naked lady bulbs have sprouted their gorgeous green leaves which are commonly mistaken for agapanthus fronds. I write about Naked ladies often as they are a foundation of my late summer garden with their long naked necks and pretty, pink faces. This week I’ve been shooting photos of their green leaves which enhance the beauty of barren earth. 

naked lady leaves.jpeg

My garden has entered the new year in decent enough shape that I will be able to enjoy the winter. If you haven’t gardened before, 2022 will be the time to personalize and customize your outdoor experience to reduce stress, smell the roses, and eat what you grow. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a survey that found 42% of Americans experienced anxiety or depression in 2021 compared to just 11% pre-pandemic. Growing, giving, and receiving flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits trigger the feel-good hormones that heal. Most seeds that are being sold this year will be for edibles as more and more people realize that growing what we want to consume is easy, nutritious, and better for the planet. The Garden Media Group reported that in 2021, 18.3 million people took up gardening, with interest levels equal between men and women. 80% of the younger generation consider gardening a worthwhile and “cool” endeavor as the concern with climate change, plant and wildlife extinction, and food equity escalates. People with children are especially interested in growing organic and natural foods.

narcissus.jpeg

Purchasing grow-your-own kits that include the container, seeds, plants, fertilizer, and supports as well as raised beds are expected to be in high demand. Adding native plants to increase biodiversity and forage for the birds and wildlife will also be a critical ingredient. The National Wildlife Federation launched a Guide for Wildlife collection of keystone native plants that will attract insects that will feed 95% of backyard bird species. Getting to know our neighborhood birds has already become a popular pastime. Make sure to provide forage for them as you enjoy their symphonic tunes. (See my article, A Berry, Merry Christmas…Mostly for the Birds https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1522/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-berry-merry-Christmas-mostly-for-the-birds.html)

 

You don’t need a large landscape to have a garden. You can buy planter boxes or containers that will fit on your porch, balcony, patio, or even a windowsill. Start planning a mixture of flowers, ornamental, and edibles. Many flowers are both beautiful and edible including violets, nasturtium, pansies, tulip petals, day lilies, bee balm, calendula, roses, hostas, and herb flowers. By making 2022 the year to embrace organic methods, adding more plants to our dining menus, and composting the leftovers, we can each do our part to reduce our carbon footprint.

Peace rose indecember.jpeg

As you write your goals and resolutions for 2022, I encourage you to keep a green journal and add gardening to the top of your list. You will be rewarded with a more peaceful mind, a soulful spirit, a kinder heart, and a body that is nourished. Cultivate green and together we will dig deeper to sustain and nurture our environment for ourselves and future generations. 

Photos and more: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1523/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-green-themed-New-Year.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Green New Year!

Cynthia Brian toasts to the new year!.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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

A Berry Merry Bird Christmas

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
A Berry Merry Bird Christmas

heavenly bamboo berries-nandina.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian

*To me, the garden is a doorway to other worlds; one of them, of course, is the world of birds. The garden is their dinner table, bursting with bugs and worms and succulent berries.” Anne Raver

Birdy, it’s cold outside. 

Deciduous trees are barren of leaves, autumn perennials have finished their blooming cycle, and few flowers adorn the landscape. The glistening ornaments that embellish the foliage are a gastro delight for birds.

Winter has arrived and with it the beautiful berries that are a vital source of food for birds as well as a traditional embellishment to Christmas wreaths and garlands. When we think of berries, we normally conjure images of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries, all grown and harvested in the warmer months. Winter berries are different, and although they are a small fleshy fruit, they are mostly enjoyed by wildlife, with a few edible exceptions eaten by humans. 

My garden boasts a plethora of winter berries that encourage my feathered friends to hang around for the holidays. Finches, mockingbirds, robins, sparrows, jays, quail, doves, bluebirds, and orioles are attracted to the many varieties of berries that will provide their nutrition during a cold and stark winter. A few of my favorites include pyracantha, cotoneaster, viburnum, pepper, Chinese pistache, rosehips, holly, yew, and barberry. Of these, only the pepper berries and rosehips are consumed by my family. Although pomegranates are not a berry, their jewel-red seeds called arils remind me of tiny berries and I grow them in my garden. Pomegranates are a staple of the Christmas fruit basket because of their festive holiday colors/ The arils are filled with antioxidants, potassium, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, packing a punch to keep us healthy. Add them to salads, make a chutney, or stir a splash of juice in a glass of sparkling wine for a festive, flavorful indulgence.

The pretty pink peppercorns from a California pepper tree are a gourmet’s desire. Since these trees are grown as ornamentals many people don’t realize that their berries are edible, with a fruity, spice profile that complements numerous recipes. They can be dried or used fresh. I have found the best way to grind them is with my mortar and pestle because their paper-thin husks get caught in my twist grinder. When making stews or soups, I toss the whole berry, called a drupe because it is a single seed, in the pot. If you buy pink peppercorns, be prepared to pay $10-15 per ounce. Consider planting a California pepper tree which will grow to 30 feet tall and wide if you have the room.

peppercorns.jpeg

Although it is mid-December, my roses continue to bloom. This month I am no longer dead-heading my bushes as I want the rosehips to form.

Peace rose indecember.jpeg

Since roses are in the same family as apples and crab apples, the taste of rosehips mimics the tartness of crab apples. The seeds/berries of rosehips have powerful disease-fighting capabilities and are packed with vitamin C.  After washing the hips, use them to make jellies, teas, syrups, soups, and desserts. 

rose hips from pink bonica rose.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1522/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-berry-merry-Christmas-mostly-for-the-birds.html

For the birds…

Peeking through leaves and decorating trees and shrubs, winter berries are nature’s Christmas décor. As beautiful as they are, the most critical element of growing these botanicals in your garden is the nutritional fare they provide for the birds and other wildlife during the coldest season of the year when food sources are limited. There are several other autumn ripened berry-bearing bushes or vines that still have shriveled fruit hanging, such as grape and elderberry, that can be left for the birds. Here’s a sampling of vibrant holiday berry dinners fit for the birds.

Cotoneaster emerged as a volunteer in my garden, most likely from seeds brought in by birds. It is an evergreen shrub that grows into a tree if not properly pruned sporting white flowers in spring that are a magnet for bees and rich red berries in winter that are a delicacy for birds. Deer munch on the branches which doesn’t bother the bush. Cotoneaster is fire-resistant and can be propagated from cuttings, although I have found that once one cotoneaster is in a landscape, others seem to sprout like weeds.

COTONEASTER BERRIES (1).jpeg

Holly has glossy leaves that are either serrated or spiny teeth. Because most hollies are dioecious, you’ll need to plant both a male and female for cross-pollination if you want those glorious red berries to decorate garlands, wreaths, and Christmas trees. English holly and American holly are the two species most used during the holidays. Although holly berries tend to start ripening in fall, most birds, including blackbirds and song thrushes don’t start feeding on them until late winter when other food is scarce.

holly berries.jpeg

Chinese pistache is one of my favorite trees for its exuberant fall color of yellows and oranges with attractive berries that metamorphose from green to aqua, to pink, and finally magenta. Birds, turkeys, quail, and squirrels go crazy for the bunches of berries that hang from the branches. I add a few sprays to my Christmas tree whenever the fowl and squirrels are kind enough to leave me a few bunches. 

Pistache berries.jpeg

Pyracantha may be the preferred winter staple of robins. Birds flock to the orange-red berries called pomes, eating so many that they seem intoxicated. Known as firethorns, pyracantha is a fast-growing plant with sharp thorns. Volunteers sprout in unusual locations thanks to the birds spreading their seeds. Keep pyracantha pruned and use branches with berries in holiday arrangements. 

pyracantha berries.jpeg

Viburnum shrubs and hedges add beauty to any garden. They produce pinkish-white flowers that bloom from spring until late fall, depending on the species. Birds love munching on berries ripening in winter with colors that are black, blue, purple, bright red, neon pink, and even yellow. Some species are edible by humans, but other species can be toxic. Unless you know that the viburnum you planted is edible, leave the berries to the birds.

viburnum berries (1).jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1522/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-berry-merry-Christmas-mostly-for-the-birds.html

Yew berries red flesh called arils are sweet and safe for birds. The arils provide nutrients needed by the flyers. The seed inside is deadly, and birds know to discard it. Often called the Tree of Death, all parts of the yew tree are poisonous except the arils. The highly poisonous taxane alkaloids of the yew have been developed as anti-cancer drugs. 

yew berries.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1522/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-berry-merry-Christmas-mostly-for-the-birds.html

Not for the birds…or any animal

 

Nandina adds multi-season interest to any garden with its nectar-rich white flowers that attract pollinators followed by clusters of green berries that ripen to shiny bright red in late fall. The lacy foliage emerges as purple, then turns green, then changes to red and purple throughout the year. As much as I love this ornamental bush, it is important to know the berries are deadly to birds, wildlife, and domestic animals. Most birds innately avoid this plant, but the voracious eaters, cedar waxwings, are susceptible to imbibing until intoxicated. The berries contain cyanogenic glycosides that convert to hydrogen cyanide when ingested. 

heavenly bamboo berries-nandina.jpeg

WARNING: When planting berry-bearing bushes, please be cognizant that most provide wildlife forage but may be toxic, poisonous, or even deadly when consumed by humans. Never put any plant substance in your mouth unless you are certain that it is edible.

There is still time to give the gifts that keep on giving by purchasing any of my award-winning books from Https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-storecyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg. Proceeds benefit the literacy charity empower women, families, and youth, Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 (www.BetheStarYouAre.org)

You will receive many additional gifts with every purchase. 

Birdscape your garden by growing a bird-friendly sanctuary with berry-producing floras that birds will love. Wander in a winter wonderland of wildlife and have a berry, merry Christmas…with the birds!

cyn-garden santa hat.jpeg

Blessings to all and a ho, ho, ho!

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1522/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-berry-merry-Christmas-mostly-for-the-birds.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Holidays!

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

Final Fall

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Final Fall

pistache leaves on the ground.jpeg

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

 Lengthen night and shorten day!

 Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.” Emily Brontë

autumn forest-impressionsit.jpeg

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

fountain.jpeg

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

lawn-fall trees.jpeg

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

weigela.jpeg

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

parsley from seed in container.jpg.jpeg

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

succulent garden.jpeg

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

redwoods, shrubs .jpeg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

autumn gazebo.jpeg

ü  RAKE debris from gravel paths.

 

gravel paths.jpeg

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

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

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

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

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

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

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

©2021 All Photos Cynthia Brian

Cyn-grey-red Xmas bulb (1).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

Grateful Gardener

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
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. 

abelia.jpeg

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.

autumn forest-impressionsit.jpeg

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. 

fall trees-cumberland river.jpeg

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.

pistache leaves on the ground.jpeg

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. 

amur maple with flowers .jpeg

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.

beech trees in fall.jpeg

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.

mushrooms growig.jpeg

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.

persimmons.jpeg

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. 

pumpkins, gourds.jpeg

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.

turkeys.jpeg

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. 

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

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.

XMAS with Santa 2018.jpeg

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

Thank you 1.jpg

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.

sign-is it Monarch butterfly Garden (3).jpeg

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.

cosmos-zinnias-signs-Moraga Monarch butterfly Garden.jpeg

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.

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

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

pergola-Moraga Monarch butterfly Garden (1).jpeg

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.

Monarch butterfly-chartreuse zinnia butterfly Garden.jpeg

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!

coyote on hill.jpeg

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.

Glitter pumpkin.jpg

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. 

Bind weed (looks like morning glory).jpeg

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. 

garlic, shallots, red peppercorns, sage.jpeg

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.

king snake-veg garden.jpg.jpeg

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. 

skunk eating catfood.jpeg

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.

squirrel eating pistache berries (1).jpeg

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.

deer on hill (1).jpeg

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.

Halloween pumpkin-mums.jpg

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.

cynthia- Halloween garden.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

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Grass Roots

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Grass Roots

redclover lawn.jpeg

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

The earth trembled. The fires raged. The stock market crashed. October has notoriously become a month when disasters great and small occur.

No matter what transpires, life goes on and nature always prevails.

After a summer of extreme heat, cooler weather is a welcome gift. The benefit for gardeners is that the soil is warm making it perfect for rooting, especially when we receive a bit of precipitation.

The next weeks are the optimum time to grow grass. Many lawns died during our heatwave and water shortages. Green areas were replaced with succulents, rocks, and, most sadly, pavement. If you want to seed, re-seed, or install turf, fall is the time to do it. Since I prefer a verdant lawn all year, this season I plan on adding more clover to my grass. 

Throughout the hot weather, I sparingly watered, providing just enough H2O to keep the lawn alive. What I observed during this drought was that the clover interspersed in my grass was always green, even when I didn’t water. Clover is a nitrogen fixer. Like all legumes, it takes nitrogen from the air and through a chemical reaction, deposits it in the ground as an absorbable fertilizer. It is constantly providing fertilizer to itself and the surrounding grass, making the entire lawn healthier. Because my clover is spread throughout my lawn, the entire lawn appears to be greener. 

Besides providing nutrients to the soil, clover is also resistant to pet urine. If you are a pet owner, you probably have brown spots on your lawn from the urine of your dog. If you add clover, you’ll have a more uniform green.

A positive and a negative of planting clover is that the flowers attract honeybees. As a gardener, I welcome honeybees to my landscape, but honeybees on a lawn can result in unwanted stings if you happen to cartwheel on a bee! Be aware that bees are hovering to avoid a confrontation.

If you’ve been to the Oakland or Mumbai airports, you may have witnessed the beautiful walls of plants. Vertical gardening is a mixture of plants that grow up and out as a living wall. As our lawns and lot sizes decrease, many people are discovering that embracing vertical gardens is a way to enjoy nature in a smaller space. Try it out this season.

vertical walls.jpeg

In preparation for Halloween, there are many traditional endeavors to experience. 

ü It is time to harvest the pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash. If you don’t grow your own, you’ll find funky as well as colorful pumpkins at the local Farmer’s Market and grocery stores. 

pumpkins and ghourds.jpeg

ü Apples and Asian pears are still hanging from the trees awaiting their reaper. Did you enjoy candied or caramel apples as a child during October? There are easy and fun recipes online to enjoy an old-fashioned treat. 

ü Cut your corn stalks to use in decorations and buy a hay bale to add to the décor. You can later use the hay to cover your newly planted vegetable patch. The hay mulch will keep most weeds from emerging as the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins begin their rampage.

ü Build a scarecrow to hang in your front yard for the season, then use it in your vegetable garden when the winter vegetable seeds sprout.

cyn-scarecrow.jpeg
Cynthia Brian’s October Gardening Guide 

light pink belladonna lilies.jpeg

The next two months are busy ones in the garden as we prepare our beds for a winter’s sleep. Chrysanthemums, belladonna lilies, and pelargoniums are in full bloom, a certain beacon of the blazing fall colors to follow. 

magenta pelagonium.jpeg

FERTILIZE lawns during the rain for faster absorption. Don’t forget to re-seed during these wet days as well. 

PULL any weeds you find in your garden before they develop seed heads.

CUT cattails for an autumn arrangement. Every part of the cattail is edible, too.

cat tails (1) copy.jpeg

COLLECT abandoned bird nests to add to holiday décor.

birds nest.jpeg

REPAIR birdhouses so that overwintering birds such as bluebirds, chickadees, and nuthatches will have a warm, safe, cozy place to rest during the upcoming cold nights. 

INCREASE bird feeders in your yard as birds consume more food in fall and winter.

TUNE up your garden by pruning back overgrown shrubs.

October Mums on deck.jpg

DIG and divide iris rhizomes now. Make sure to keep a few inches of the leaves on the stems and bury the roots two inches deep, eighteen to twenty inches apart.

FORCE your final produce to ripen by halting watering.

PRUNE berry bushes, including summer raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries by removing dead canes. Thin any new forming canes.

AMEND your hard clay soil with large amounts of compost.

MULCH with wood chips to prevent erosion and maintain temperate soil temperatures.

FREEZE or can your vine tomatoes before the rains rot them.

PROPAGATE perennials through root cuttings.

SAVE seeds from your favorite annuals, herbs, and vegetables by gathering, drying, labeling, and storing. 

HARVEST the remainder of ripe produce before the end of the month-apples, Asian pears, peppers, Swiss chard. 

ROAST seeds from squash and pumpkins by first cleaning, drying, soaking in salted water, then, baking at 375 degrees until golden brown. What a healthy snack!

Fingers crossed that this October will be disaster-free. Whatever transpires, in the freshness of fall, we’ll start anew. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1517/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Grass-roots.html

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

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

Propagating Plants

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Propagating Plants

yam growing in glass jar.jpeg

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

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

hugs.jpeg

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

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

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

lettuce sprouting in bowl.jpeg

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

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

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

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

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

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

magnolias-bees.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1516/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Plant-parenthood.html

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

Sexual Propagation

Seeds: 

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

Asexual Propagation

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

Rose started from cutting.jpeg

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

chardonnay and ribier grapes.jpeg

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

hill of naked ladies.jpeg

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

yam growing in glass jar.jpeg

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

giinger soaking.jpeg

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

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

red potato harvest.jpeg

Happy parenting. Happy gardening. Happy growing!

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

night shot-cynthia brian.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

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

RSS
Follow by Email