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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July

Posted by Editor on
Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July

“To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.”
~ Walt Whitman

cyn in hydrangeas

Yeah! It’s summer. Time for vacations, swim meets, barbecues, swinging in hammocks!, and…conserving water resources. Our weather patterns have certainly been weird.  My car thermostat registered 107 degrees on a Monday in June and two days later I was gathering buckets to catch the downpour. The thirteen hours of welcome rain was not enough to quench the thirst of our landscapes. Brown may be the new green, but I prefer to call our gardens California gold. My lawn crunches when I walk on it and the only green is the slowly spreading striking clover with its tiny pink flowers. Yet, have hope, because as long as we maintain vigilante, come winter, lawns and gardens will revitalize.

pond with poppies

Is your garden sunny or shady? When evaluating what to plant where, remember that an area is considered sunny when it gets at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. When an area receives four to five hours of sunshine, it is considered only partly sunny. A shade garden is an area that receives less than three hours a day of sunshine.

This week I received a few new releases of hibiscus from JBerry Nursery. These stunning specimens are called Patio Party with colors that are bursting with flair and frivolity. Although they are advertised as being deer resistant, as soon as I planted mine, our dear deer devoured the flowers and leaves.
I made wire cages to protect the plants and am now considering installing a deer fence. As much as I enjoy observing these munching marauders, with our severe drought, they are hungrier than usual and are eating plants that they’d normally avoid.
fireworks dahlia
Did you read the recent insert of your East Bay Municipal Utility District water bill? With our busy schedules most people toss the extras but this issue of Pipeline discussed the critical water shortage and the mandatory outdoor watering rules. Because these new regulations affect all landscapes, in BOLD I am posting the rules now in effect with a few of my personal recommendations.
1. Strict limits on frequency of watering: no more that two non-consecutive days per week with no runoff.  I recommend choosing a Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday or Wednesday and Saturday to water. Sundays are a day to rest.
2. Strict limits on times: only before 9 a. m. or after 6 p.m. Depending on how long your watering schedule takes, I recommend watering lawns in the mornings beginning anytime after 6 a.m. By doing this, you give your grass time to absorb the moisture and enjoy the sun. When you water your lawn in the evening, you may be inviting lawn moths as the grass doesn’t have enough time to dry. For your flowerbeds, evening is a better time to water as the moisture has twelve to fifteen hours to saturate and quench the earth.
3. No watering allowed within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.
4. No watering of ornamental turf on public street medians allowed.
5. No washing of driveways and sidewalks, except as needed for health and safety.  I recommend that you use a broom to sweep or a blower to keep driveways and sidewalks clean.
6. Use only hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles. If you have an area of grass or lawn that is accessible to your vehicle, drive on the lawn and wash your car, using biodegradable soap. Your car gets clean and your lawn gets a drink.
7. Turn off fountains or decorative water features unless the water is re-circulated.  Remember if you have uncirculated standing water, you are inviting mosquito larvae to hatch. Buy Dunks or add a bit of bleach to keep the water mosquito free.
Conservation is essential and EBMUD will be adopting excessive use ordinances that will penalize households. We may not be able to keep our landscapes beautiful, but we can keep our gardens alive. Just remember they aren’t brown, they are California golden.
Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July

⎫ CUT old or overgrown elderberry trees down to the ground. The stump will re-sprout providing better flower and fruit production.
⎫ GROW a pollinator garden in a pot with nectar and pollen rich snapdragons, coneflowers, coreopsis, zinnias, thyme, sage, salvias, and sedums.
⎫ PLANT tall perennials together as support beams for one another. Make sure to read the tags for spacing details. Don’t overcrowd.
⎫ CELEBRATE the 4th of July with a picnic table set with red, white, and blue flowers from your garden.  Red roses, dahlias, or alstroemeria, blue agapantha, white gardenia or begonia will be surefire winners.
⎫ CHECK for sources of mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes won’t breed in swimming pools as long as the pool is filtered and chlorinated.
⎫ REPEL pests and attract beneficial birds and insects by planting aromatic herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, or sage.
⎫ REDUCE weeds by mulching with grass clippings, leaves, and other organics. Sweep or blow all of your leaves onto your lawn before mowing. Use a bag on the mower and pour all of the contents into the compost pile.
⎫ WATCH the frolicking of the birds in your garden, specifically the California quail. Both the father and the mother tend to their covey of babies.
⎫ BLAST aphids with a strong spray from the hose on any plants that have been invaded. If you see ants on your plants, they are protecting the aphids. Get rid of the ants and you’ll also get rid of the aphids.
⎫ SPRAY yourself with a bug repellent containing DEET for outdoor festivities when biting insects are present.
⎫ BRING miracles into your life by savoring the long days of summer.

Happy Independence Day. May your month of July be filled with fireworks of fun.
Happy Gardening and happy growing.
Read more at Lamorinda Weekly

Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July

Posted by Editor on
Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July

cynhtia-roses by beach

“All good things are wild and free.” Henry David Thoreau

Summer is here in its full glory with the 4th of July promise of parades, pancake breakfasts, barbecues, fireworks, and family fun. Our dry hills glisten golden while water conservation is the talk of the town.  The warm winter allowed fruit trees to burst into bloom only to have the blossoms knocked to the ground by a late rain.  Ripening fruit is sparse, if nonexistent, except for certain varieties. My experiment of early vegetable planting in April resulted in plants that didn’t survive the acute climate changes. Despite this dismal failure, I’m glad I attempted the unexpected. Next spring I’ll wait until the optimum moment to transplant seedlings. On the positive side, plants that froze have recovered and are thriving. Other than straightforward yard maintenance, July is relatively labor-free since we’ve already done all the really hard work in preparation for the season. Sit on the patio, pour yourself a cold one, and enjoy living in the land of the free.


  • ⎫ RETHINK summer beverages by making your own flavored waters with fruits and herbs from your garden. Add mint, cucumbers, tangerines, basil, and berries to your favorite cocktail for a splash of sunshine. 
  • ⎫ REMOVE your lawn and replace it with an EBMUD sustainable landscape option and you’ll qualify for a rebate of $.50 per square foot of grass removed. Call 866-403-2683 to schedule an appointment.
  • ⎫ CONSERVE moisture by adding 2-3 inches of mulch to your landscape if you haven’t already. Visit www.EBMUD.com for discount coupons on purchasing mulch.
  • ⎫ WATER early in the morning or evening to eliminate evaporation and water deeply yet infrequently. It’s hot and deep watering encourages a deeper root system.
  • ⎫ SOAK tree roots with a deep soaker. While lawns will come back if they are not watered, your trees will die without H20. Buy a deep soaker rod and use it.
  • ⎫ LINGER on a bench at the beach, in your garden, or at the park to enjoy the scenery.
  • ⎫ GROW your own vegetables, fruits, and herbs and be water-wise. Home gardeners use ¼ to 1/8 less water than commercial growers for the same produce.
  • ⎫ ADD straw to beds as an excellent covering that provides a habitat for beneficial microbes while keeping the soil moist
  • ⎫ THIN apricots, peaches, pears, apples, and lemons on your trees to allow for a tastier, larger fruit harvest when ripe.
  • ⎫ PROPAGATE herbs such as lovage and lemon grass and edible flowers like nasturtiums and calendula for a perennial party of exotic flavors.
  • ⎫ INCREASE the amount of sunscreen you use while in the garden. Make sure to re-apply often, wear a hat, and sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • ⎫ EAT fresh organic eggs as eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. Testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture contain

1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin, 7 times more beta carotene.

  • ⎫ CLEAR debris, leaves, limbs, dead grass, wood, reeds, and all flammable materials from around the perimeter of your home. Fire danger is high all summer.
  • ⎫ PREPARE to pay more for fresh produce at your local grocer and farmer’s market if you haven’t grown your own.
  • ⎫ SPRINKLE Growstone’s Gnat Nix®, a non-toxic, chemical-free fungus gnat control top dressing made from recycled landfill glass on the surface of your containers and beds to reduce gnats on plants, indoors and out. www.growstone.com.
  • ⎫ VOLUNTEER in a city or community garden even if you are not a gardener. Research indicates that even a little digging in the dirt boosts serotonin levels and decreases depression.
  • ⎫ LEARN from your mistakes. Don’t get frazzled when something you planted doesn’t grow in a particular spot. Plants wither and die. Plant something else.
  • ⎫ CUT back alliums after they are dry to encourage new growth and naturalization.
  • ⎫ CHECK yourself for ticks every time you come in from the outdoors. Ticks will jump on your body during hiking, gardening, or just strolling. (I’ve had four hitchhike so far this season!)
  • ⎫ WALK around your garden daily to observe what is new, what needs attention, and to admire your artistry.
  • ⎫ DECORATE for Independence Day by filling containers with the colors of our flag. Red and white cyclamen, blue lobelia, white perennial alyssum paired with variegated society garlic makes a festive moveable display.
  • ⎫ NAP in the shade. You deserve a break today.

Happy gardening and happy growing!


Cynthia Brian

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