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Water-Wise Landscaping

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
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Empowerment
Water-Wise Landscaping

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

Growing Water-Wise

By Cynthia Brian

 

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

 

Welcome to Summer! It’s going to be a hot one. 

If the newest studies reviewing tree rings are correct, we are currently in the worst drought since 800 A.D. The first three months of this year registered the least rain and snow on record. While we plunge into pools to cool off, our gardens will struggle to survive. Conserving water is top of mind as our climate becomes warmer. It’s time for all of us to plan to grow water-wise.

I recently attended a seminar sponsored by Monrovia and came away with increased awareness of how to maintain healthy landscapes during the dry seasons. There are numerous plants besides cacti and succulents that have low water requirements. When we re-think drought-tolerant landscapes, we may continue to enjoy our gardens with colorful and interesting trees, grasses, shrubs, and flowers. 

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Drought-tolerant perennial contenders include:

Salvia

Blanket flower,

Catmint

Agastache

Guara

Milkweed

Penstemon

Verbena

Mallow

Coreopsis

Red hot poker

Kangaroo paw

Geranium

Spanish lavender

African daisy

Lantana

Yarrow

Statice

Everlasting sweet pea

Echinacea

Sage

Sea holly

Rose

Feverfew

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Shrubs with minimal water needs are: 

Ceanothus,

Bottlebrush

Pride of Madeira

Heavenly bamboo

Pittosporum

Smoke tree

Cotoneaster

Butterfly bush

Hydrangeas that are three to four years old will do fine. Younger specimens will require more water.

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Vines that I recommend are:

Bougainvillea

Honeysuckle

Jasmine

Climbing and rambling roses. 

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Annuals don’t have roots that go as deep as perennials. They focus energy on flowering which requires increased moisture. 

These annuals usually require only weekly watering to one inch as opposed to daily drinks:

Zinnia

Marigold

Cleome

Portulaca

California poppy

Globe amaranth

Vinca

Chamomile

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Cosmos

Sunflower

Wax begonia

To minimize water waste, prioritize planting drought-tolerant perennials, shrubs, and trees and augment with color spots of annuals. Established plants do better in a drought than in a newly planted landscape. A plant is considered established when its roots have taken hold and spread in the soil. Perennials take a year to be established plants. A shrub could take two to three years, and most trees need three or more years. For this reason, it is always recommended to plant a garden in spring and fall when the weather is milder. 

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In a drought, paying attention to our trees is critical.  Give established trees a deep soak every three to four weeks to keep roots from rising to the surface. Trees will experience leaf drop in the heat, but the tree will survive. If your trees are two years old or younger, an easy way to give them a good drink is to drill holes in a five-gallon bucket to allow water to slowly trickle to the roots. When you use a soaker wand, make sure to position it six feet or more from the trunk of the tree or at the end of the canopy as that is where the roots are. Roots are not at the base.

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A sampling of California native trees that will be beautiful and survive in a drought include:

Olive

Pomegranate

Fig

Marina strawberry

Desert willow

Pistache

Mimosa

Manzanita

Crape myrtle

Redbud

Keep an eye on your oak trees. They tend to topple over without any wind when they either have too much moisture or not enough. 

As much as we love our vegetable gardens, this season only grow what you will eat or share with family and friends. Because of the lack of water, it is not prudent to overplant. Herbs are mostly drought-tolerant, especially rosemary. 

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To grow in water-wise knowledge, we need to embrace varied techniques for watering.

1.     Water early in the day before the temperature warms.

2.     Test your soil to determine its dryness. Only water when the soil is dry two to four inches down.

3.     Even on the hottest days, don’t be tempted to give your plants an extra drink.

4.     Group plants with similar watering needs in one area.

5.     Check irrigation systems for leaks.

6.     Inspect drip systems to make sure the hoses are not strangling plants.

7.     Watering deeply twice a week will keep your plants alive.

8.     Mulch, mulch, mulch with layers of at least three inches. 

9.     When adding to your garden in the summer, do so on a cool or cloudy day.

10.  Include water-conserving measures indoors by taking shorter showers. Keep a bucket in your showers and sinks to use for containers or outside. 

In the water restriction days during the extreme drought of the 1970s, the slogan was “If its brown flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” as each flush wasted seven gallons. 

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June 20- 26 is designated as pollinator week. Bees, butterflies, birds, bats, beetles, wasps, and moths as well as smaller mammals transport pollen to various species to make our gardens grow. Without our pollinators, we would have no food. Honor these hard-working garden helpers by making your garden pollinator friendly. 

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Take the plunge and grow water-wise this summer. Have a safe and healthy Independence Day!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

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Photos and More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1609/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Growing-water-wise.html

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

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

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

cyntha brian with books.jpg

Summer of Succulents!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Summer of Succulents!

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By Cynthia Brian

 

We Californians are constantly accused of not having seasons, but we do. We have fire, flood, mud, and drought.”  Phyllis Diller

It’s that time of the year again. School is out. The weather is warming. The drought continues. We fear fires. Flood and mud are distant memories. Because of water restrictions, many homeowners are seeking alternatives to thirsty vegetation that demand a constant drink. Enter succulents. 

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Succulents have fleshy, thick leaves that store water and thrive in warm, dry conditions. They are very low maintenance, prefer dry conditions, and enjoy copious amounts of sunshine. Cactus are succulents, although most gardeners prefer succulents that do not have spines, stickers, or prickly pokes. Succulents are beautiful and come in a range of colors including green, silver, orange, yellow, purple, lavender, pink, red, bronze, and mixtures. The more sunlight they receive, the more colorful they become. Many of the fleshy leaves are arranged in rosettes. Succulents are easy to propagate through cuttings. Sometimes planting a single leaf will result in a new succulent. They have shallow roots and can be packed together for instant impact. Arranging succulents in swaths shows off the varying colors, textures, and forms resulting in a tapestry of interest. Replacing a lawn with an artful array of various succulent species, sizes and shapes is an attractive and waterwise investment. Succulents may be mixed in a garden with other drought-resistant floras such as lavender, lambs’ ear, verbena, sage, or lantana. 

Aeonium, Sedum, Echeveria, Sempervivum, Agave, and Aloe are just a few of the over five thousand species of succulents that will thrive in our landscapes.

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Aeonium

Native to the Canary Islands, the thirty-five species of aeoniums tolerate a bit of shade with rosettes that grow taller  (some to five feet or more) than ground-hugging succulents. Cascading over containers, they add drama to a patio setting, especially with their conical clusters of flowers that bloom on eight-inch stems.

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Sedum

Mostly concentrated in Mexico and Europe, sedums are extremely hardy and useful in dry gardening. They are terrific in containers and often spill over. As ground covers, many are low growing, making them perfect for rock gardens.

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Echeveria

Always formed in rosettes and mostly derived from Mexico, these colorful succulents can be frilly, rounded, or fuzzy, boasting an arching stalk of a bell-shaped flower. 

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Sempervivum

Native to Southern and Central Europe, sempervivum is a succulent rosette. The plants flower only once before dying making this genus monocarpic. Before dying, they produce a pup or chick around their mother plant.

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Agave

Tequila is made from the agave plant, although the sap from the agave is toxic to both humans and pets. Hailing from North America, these rosette-shaped succulents have long, spiny tips with specimens that grow to ten feet in height and diameter as well as dish-size varieties. They produce a tall flower stalk from their center at maturity, which could be decades, then die. 

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Aloe

There are hundreds of species of aloes originating from Africa or Central America. Some are prickly, others thick and fleshy. The Aloe Vera is used for medical applications and is a “must-have” plant for households, especially useful by squeezing the juice from a leaf on a cut or burn. 

To get ideas on creating a garden using succulents and other drought-tolerant plants, an enlightening excursion to the natural setting of the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek is encouraged. www.RuthBancroftGarden.org. Specimens may be purchased at their nursery and gift cards are available through their online store.

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Goddess Gardener’s Guide

ü  Besides boasting about succulents, I am excited that I have been harvesting cauliflower. If you haven’t tried growing cole crops, I highly suggest doing so. I grow cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, and cauliflower. All parts of the plants are edible, and they are superfoods.

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ü  In full bloom now, peonies and gardenias are a couple of my all-time favorite flowers to add to bridal bouquets as well as flower arrangements. Peonies only last a few days in a vase; however, their impact is dramatic. A single gardenia fills a room with glorious fragrance. 

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ü  June officially begins the fire season. Make sure to remove debris from around structures and cut wild grasses to the ground. Most importantly, get your Go Bag ready and prepare for an evacuation, if necessary.

ü  We are in a serious drought with mandatory water restrictions. Maintain your landscape by watering deeply but infrequently in the morning and evening. 

ü  Perhaps a pot of peonies or a few containers of succulents would be an attractive gift for a garden-loving, water-saving dad for Father’s Day?

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Relish a succulent summer and stay safe.

Photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1608/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Succulent-summer.html

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

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

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

Roses for All

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Roses for All

Pink bonica roses.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian

“Won’t you come into my garden? I would like my roses to see you.” Richard Sheridan 

Ask any gardener who grows a multitude of roses what they think of the species, and you’ll probably get an answer that sounds seriously star-struck. I am a dedicated devotee of roses. They consistently amaze me with their resilience, beauty, and bountiful blooms. It wasn’t until the end of February that I completed my heavy pruning, and by the end of April, the roses had sprouted new shoots and were already in full bloom. This month, the flowers are even larger and more plentiful. Depending on the variety, each flush lasts approximately three to four weeks from bud to deadheading. Over the years I have created multiple rose rooms that continue to delight me throughout the year. If you have not added roses to your landscape, please put them on your bucket list to plant next year.  Once established, they don’t require much water, and with a bit of TLC, you, too, will enjoy seasons of splendor. To keep your roses bug-free, add a few cloves of garlic around the base of each trunk. Mix a cup of alfalfa pellets into the soil in March to increase the nitrogen for greener leaves. 

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Entertaining in the summer garden is my favorite manner to gather friends and family for al fresco dining, conversation, and laughter. There is always so much to celebrate in June–the end of school, graduations, Father’s Day, birthdays, showers, and weddings. This is the time to spruce up the yard in anticipation of the summer to come. Because of the pandemic, for the past two-plus years, I have spent countless hours working in the garden yet have not entertained friends or family. The garden is thriving with my diligence, and I have been reaping the health benefits of my efforts in my body, mind, and spirit.

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The leaves of the spring bulbs as well as the naked lady bulbs that will bloom later in the season have all dried like hay, making the garden appear messy. I’ve pulled multiple garbage bins of them for the compost pile along with so many buckets of weeds that I’ve lost count. 

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Butterflies are plentiful in my garden as they flutter from flower to flower. Swallowtails are in abundance as are several different white and yellow flyers that I haven’t identified. After I rescued a bee from a swimming pool, it returned to sting me on my back. No good deed goes unpunished! If you get stung by a bee, remove the stinger immediately, make a paste of baking soda mixed with water, add vinegar, and apply to the sting to ease the pain and swelling. If you are allergic to bees or are stung by a swarm, call 911. With all the lizards, frogs, birds, bees, and butterflies, my garden is vigorously growing and feeding the beneficials.

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Enjoy your green lawns now because as the temperatures heat up, brown spots will appear. Since the water district has mandated a 10% water use reduction District-wide, expect that lawns will not look as lush and lovely as they do now. Make sure to water deeply early in the morning or early evening only once a week to keep the roots alive. Mow the grass to three inches and if possible, do not use a bag when mowing. The cut grasses re-nourish the lawn and will help it stay greener longer.

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From what I’ve gathered from numerous scientific data, the pandemic is not over and in fact, new variants may make life more challenging by the fall. In the meantime, I’ll be diligent and careful while I continue cutting my roses for glorious indoor bouquets to boost my spirits. As an eternal optimist, I always see the world through rose-colored glasses. 

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Congratulations to all the graduates everywhere. Go into the garden and introduce yourself to the roses. Life is coming up roses!

Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for June

ü  LEARN to identify insects and diseases to better detect problems early.

ü  ENCOURAGE natural enemies such as toads, lizards, snakes, birds, ladybugs, and praying mantis.

ü  ROTATE crops to avoid depleting the soil and building up pests.

ü  MAKE your own potting mix by combining equal parts of compost

ü  BEWARE of the deadly plant, poison hemlock. Identify it by its red spots. Wear gloves and a mask when weeding.

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ü  WATER lawns and flowerbeds deeply to encourage strong root growth.

ü  HARVEST seeds of perennials like penstemon, calendula, and poppies to spread in other areas where color is needed.

ü  SUCCESSION planting is the key to a plentiful supply of summer greens including lettuces, arugula, beets, carrots, and radishes. Sow your favorite seeds every three weeks as you consume.

ü  PREVENT fires by removing debris, dead branches, and refuse from around your home and yard. 

ü  WEED a final time before the hot weather arrives. Weeds suck the moisture and nutrients from nearby plants.

ü  PLANT bottlebrush as a large privacy screen and bee magnet.

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ü  CLEAN patio furniture. Freshen your outdoor look with paint, new cushions, or throw pillows.

ü  CUT bouquets of roses to enhance your indoor rooms. 

ü  WANT a perennial that blooms year-round? The delicate Santa Barbara daisy is easy to grow and lives in unison with roses. 

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ü  DETER  raccoons from rolling back your lawn searching for grubs by putting down fruit tree netting which they dislike on their feet.

ü  MAKE your voice heard. VOTE in the elections.

Photos at: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1607/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Coming-up-roses.html

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

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

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