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I’m a Flower Child! By Cynthia Brian

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I’m a Flower Child! By Cynthia Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1109/July-Gardening-Guide-Be-a-Flower-Child.html Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener will be available soon! Hire Cynthia for your next project.   Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com 925-377-STAR

Uprooting and Transplanted By Cynthia Brian

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Uprooting and Transplanted By Cynthia Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1108/Digging-Deep-11-Tips-for-uprooting-and-transplanting-gardens.html Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener will be available soon! Hire Cynthia for your next project.   Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com www.GoddessGardener.com 925-377-STAR

Rooms of His Own By Cynthia Brian

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Rooms of His Own By Cynthia Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Available for hire for any project.

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