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What Plants are more Fire Resilient?

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

Bonica shrub roses.jpeg

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

Flammable grass on hillside..jpeg

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

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

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

GARDEN ZONES

ZONE 1: DEFENSIBLE ZONE

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

Groundcovers for this area include:

Lawn grasses

Ajuga

Isotoma

Gazania

Alyssum

Moss

Nasturtium

Vinca

Dwarf Plumbago

Chamomile

Zone 1 Perennials include:

Acanthus

Agapanthus

Artemisia

Bergenia

Canna

Dusty Miller

Shasta Daisy

Chrysanthemum

Coreopsis

Foxglove

Ferns

Geranium

Daylilies

Impatiens

Hosta

Heuchera

Penstemon

Pelargonium

New Zealand Flax

Lamb’s Ear

Calla lilies

Bird of Paradise

Zone 1 Shrubs include:

Rose

Privet

Boxwood

Camellia

Photinia

Mock Orange

Gardenia

Hibiscus

Pittosporum

Azalea

Rhododendron

Lilac

Viburnum

Oleander

Zone 1 Vines include:

Clematis

Trumpet Vine

Grape

Jasmine

Bower Vine

Wisteria

wisteria arbor, roses, trumpet vine.jpeg

Zone 1 Trees include:

Fruit trees

Magnolia

Maple

Redbud

Birch

Pineapple Guava

Dogwood

Crape Myrtle

Liquid Amber

Ornamental Pear

Pepper Tree

sprinklers on lawn.jpeg

ZONE 2: FUEL BREAK

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

mustard (1).jpeg

Zone 2 Groundcovers include:

Succulents

Ice plant

Yarrow

Artemisia

Morning glory

Coreopsis

Santa Barbara Daisy

Asiastic Lilies and santa barbara daisies.jpeg

Wild strawberry

Gazania

Primrose

Osteospermum

hillside in bloom after weeding-mulch.jpeg

Clover

Verbena

Zone 2 Perennials include:

Yarrow

Dusty Miller

California Poppy

Iris

Gaura

Euphorbia

Chrysanthemum

Coreopsis

Statice

Candytuft

Lupine

Red-Hot Poker

Sage

Yucca

Zone 2 Shrubs include:

Succulents

agave.jpeg

Cactus

Oleander

Pomegranate

Rockrose

Zone 2 Vines include:

Virginia Creeper

Lady Banks Rose

Honeysuckle

Nightshade

Senecio Confusus

Zone 2 Trees include:

Carob

Strawberry Tree

Redbud

Honey Locust

Chinese Pistache

California Black Oak

Sumac

Yucca

Joshua Tree

GENERAL FIRE-RESISTANT PLANTS

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

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

California redbud

Sage

Penstemon

Heather

Fuchsia

Columbine

Thyme

Poppy

Wild strawberry

Common yarrow

French lavender

Lantana

Lilac

Coreopsis

Ajuga

California lilac

Society garlic

Jasmine

Periwinkle

Alliums

Dianthus

Yellow or Purple Ice Plant

Creeping Phlox

Lamium

Sedum

Succulents

Veronica

Armeria

Agapanthus

Trumpet Vine

Daylily

Heuchera

Hosta

Red-Hot Poker

Lupine

Delphinium

Echinacea

Lamb’s ear

Yucca

Rose

Salvia

Evening primrose

Daphne

Boxwood

Rhododendron

Spirea

Dogwood

Mock orange

Azalea

Currant

Viburnum

Aloe

Primrose

Candytuft

African Daisy

Calendula

TREES:

Horse Chestnut

Liquid Amber

Honey Locust

Crabapple

Purple Robe Locust

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

Black Oak

Hawthorne

Birch

Aspen

Poplar

Maple

Manzanita (prune without deadwood)

Walnut 

California Bay Laurel

California Pepper

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

Prune trees.jpeg

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

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

roses, love in the mist nigella, grapes.jpeg

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

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

Photos and more:

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

mr lincoln roses (1).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.

cyn-exhausting garden day.jpeg

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

cynthia brian's books.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Landscaping for Fire Prevention

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Landscaping for Fire Prevention

agave.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian

“Fire is never a gentle master.” Proverb

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

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

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

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

sprinklers on lawn.jpeg

No plant is fireproof. 

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

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

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

Characteristics of highly flammable flora

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

Characteristics of reasonably fire-resistant plants?

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

Prone to Ignite Plants

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

Acacia

Arborvitae or Thuya

Bamboo

Greasewood or Chamise

French, Spanish, and Scotch Broom

Ivy

Cypress

Eucalyptus

Juniper

Burning Bush or Gas plant

Pampas Grass

Palm

Pine

Rosemary

Cedar

Douglas Fir

Coyote Bush

Pride of Madeira 

General Rules of Fire Safety

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

  • o Prevent embers from igniting your home by clearing leaves, needles, and debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks.
  • o Mow grasses and weeds.
  • o Keep your garden watered.
  • o Prune tree limbs to keep the lowest branches 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • o Reduce “fire fuel laddering” by not allowing bushes or trees to touch one another.
  • o Keep combustible materials 15-30 feet away from structures.
  • o Maintain your property and be alert for any fire danger.
  • river rock canal (1).jpeg

Weed abatement must be completed by June 1st. Get out there and get your landscape more fire-resistant. We all have a responsibility to one another to help keep our community from experiencing a wildfire. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Be fire safe.

Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1507/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Wildfire-protection-through-landscaping.html

cyn-flowering cherry.jpeg

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

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

cyntha brian with books.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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

FireScaping for Survival

Posted by presspass on
0
Empowerment
FireScaping for Survival

pile of pine trees in yard.jpg

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.html

“Some say the world will end in fire.” Robert Frost

A running crown fire came rolling down the hillside toward our Lake County mountain cabin, moving faster than any human could run. All exits were blocked. Trees vaporized.  Sixteen civilians trapped in the valley were being gathered in the meadow around our house. This acre of lush green grass would be the safety zone, everyone’s last hope of survival. Ninety firefighters had been spread out along the roads, trails, and hillsides in the fire’s path. Their orders were to stay put until the fire was upon them, then to light a backfire and escape to our meadow.

The energy released was a hundred times that of a normal forest fire, with an explosive force nearing the intensity of a small atomic bomb. Everyone prayed. My sister and her husband said their goodbyes. Death seemed seconds away. Besides being a farmer, our Dad had been Captain of our volunteer fire department for forty-six years. Dad built the safety zone.  “Daddy,” my sister prayed, “please don’t let us die like this.”

Then, almost imperceptibly, the roar began to diminish. The fire continued to rage for fourteen days in nearby canyons, ultimately burning over eighty-two thousand acres. At the time, it was the second-worst firestorm in United States history, the subject of national training videos for firefighters and showcased on an episode of the TV series, 20/20. 

fires-helicoter.jpg - 3.jpg

I chronicled this epic true story in my book, Be the Star You Are!® 99 Gifts for Living, Loving, Laughing, and Learning to Make a Difference. The chapter is appropriately titled The Gift of Survival. (First Editions available from http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store). 

When a town called Paradise is transformed into burning hell incinerating everything in its path within twenty-four hours and becoming the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California and United States history, it is prudent for Lamorindans to make fire safety a priority.

A few months ago readers reached out to me asking if I would write an article on how to landscape with fire prevention in mind. They had contacted  their local Fire Chief to find out how to become a Fire Wise neighborhood. Being fire wise is dependent on everyone in a neighborhood being diligent about keeping their property fire safe because fires do not honor property lines. If one home’s landscape is pristine and the neighbor next door has overgrown bushes, brush, or low hanging trees, all of the properties become indefensible.

Firewsie-Orinda After-Beofre photo.jpeg

The area where I live is rural, wooded, and has minimal escape routes. Many of the plants and trees growing throughout our area are highly flammable including pines, cypress, cedar, fir, bamboo, acacia, juniper, Pampas grass, rosemary, ivy, arborvitae, miscanthus, and eucalyptus. Heat moves up and many homes are on hills. Fire speed and severity is stronger on slopes where vegetation management is crucial.

Just as there is no such thing as a deer-proof plant, a fire-proof plant is a myth. Under the right conditions, every plant will burn. Referring to a plant as “fire safe” means that it tends not to be a significant fuel source by itself. Some plants chemical compositions resist heat and combustion. It is critical to keep plants around our homes well maintained and pruned as a fire protection tool. The closer plants are to the house, the more care is needed. 

Firewise -Orinda After photo.jpeg

Firescaping is simply a landscape design that reduces house and property vulnerability to wildfire. While enhancing the beauty of the property, we surround the house with plants that are less likely to ignite and create a defensible space. 

Characteristics of Highly Flammable Flora

  • ϖ Dry and dead leaves, twigs, branches
  • ϖ Abundant, dense foliage
  • ϖ Needles
  • ϖ Low moisture foliage
  • ϖ Peeling, loose bark
  • ϖ Gummy sap
  • ϖ Leathery or aromatic leaves
  • ϖ High resin, terpene, or oil content
  • ϖ High, uncut or dry grasses

Characteristics of Fire-Resistant Flora

  • ϖ Hardy, slow growing plants that don’t produce litter or thatch
  • ϖ Native plants that are drought tolerant with internal high water content. Generally, California natives are more tolerant of deer and fire. 

(see Nature’s Natives: April 17, 2019, https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1304/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-April-Natures-Natives.html)

  • ϖ Trees with thick bark that restrict the growth of invasive shrub species and hardwood trees such as walnut, cherry, maple, and poplar are less flammable. Deciduous trees and shrubs are generally more fire resistant because they have a higher moisture content when in leaf, lower fuel volume when dormant, and usually do not contain flammable oils.
  • ϖ Supple, moist leaves with little to no sap or resin residue.
  • ϖ Low growing ground covers.
  • ϖ Bulbs.bright pink tulips.jpg

How to Create a Fire-Resistant Landscape:

  • ϖ Include fire-resistant features such as pavers, bricks, pavement, gravel, rocks, mulch, dry creek beds, fountains, ponds, pools, and lawns. Water features including ponds, streams, and pools can be helpful fuel breaks.
  • dry creek rierbed.jpg
  • ϖ Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground with a low sap and resin content. (See an included list of plants, shrubs, and trees)
  • ϖ Maintain all plants and lawns. Clover, groundcovers, and grasses that are kept low and green through irrigation are excellent alternatives. Mow, prune, water, and space appropriately.
  • ϖ Leave space between plants.
  • ϖ Minimize the inclusion of evergreen trees within thirty feet of structures. Clear debris and understory. Have clearance of all trees within twenty feet of chimneys. 
  • ϖ Remove invasive species or swaths of flammable plants including ivy, rosemary, broom, and juniper.
  • ϖ Moist mulch, rocks, or gravel can be used for firescaping. (Bark and leaf mulch can ignite unless sufficiently wet. Usage not recommended near structures.)
  • ϖ When planting trees, identify the tree size at maturity. 
  • ϖ Prune trees carefully to remove the possibility of fire laddering.
  • ϖ Arrange plantings in clusters and islands, with those near structure being smaller. 
  • ϖ Consider the combustibility of decorative features such as gazebos, fences, sheds, porches, and junk areas.  Keep appropriate clearance to reduce the threat of burning embers.
  • ϖ Bare ground is not recommended due to soil erosion.
  • Lawn .jpg

General Rules of Fire Safety

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

  • ϖ Prevent embers from igniting your home by clearing leaves, needles, and debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks.
  • ϖ Mow grasses and weeds.
  • ϖ Keep your garden watered.
  • ϖ Prune tree limbs to keep the lowest branches 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • ϖ Reduce “fire fuel laddering” by not allowing bushes or trees to touch one another.
  • ϖ Keep combustible materials 15-30 feet away from structures.
  • ϖ Maintain your property and be alert for any fire danger.

Through proper plant selection, placement, and maintenance, we are able to diminish the possibility of ignition, lower fire intensity, and reduce the spread, helping our homes to survive the blaze.  A fire-resistant landscape reduces the risk to our homes while enabling firefighters a place to defend our structures.

Helpful Websites:

National Fire Protection Association: https://www.nfpa.org

Fire Safe Marin (We are not in Marin, but this is a great resource): http://www.firesafemarin.org

Pacific Northwest Fire Resistant Plants: http://www.firefree.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Fire-Resistant-Plants.pdf

University of California Cooperative Extension: https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/Prepare/Landscaping/Plant_choice/

Las Pilitas Nursery (although this nursery is in Santa Margarita it has the best website that gives burn times for various plants. Plus it also has deer resistant information as well.)https://www.laspilitas.com/easy/deerfire.htm

Sign Up for Alerts:

Alerts for Your Specific Area: http://www.nixle.com

 

Sample Listing of Plants that are Fire-Resistant

(I reiterate, NO PLANT is fire-proof. Maintenance, pruning, watering, spacing, location are all extremely important elements for fire safety.)

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

California redbud

Sage

Penstemon

Heather

Fuchsia

Columbine

Columbine-cinereria.jpg

Thyme

Poppy

bearded iris and california poppies.jpg

Wild strawberry

Common yarrow

French lavender

Lilac

lilac begins to bloom.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.html

Coreopsis

Ajuga

California lilac

Society garlic

Alliums

Wild allium in bloom.jpg

Dianthus

Yellow or Purple ice plant

Creeping phlox

Lamium

Sedum

Succulents

succulent shelves.jpg

Veronica

Armeria

Agapanthus

Trumpet Vine

Daylily

yellow daylily.jpg

Heuchera

Hosta

Red hot poker

Lupine

geysr lupins.jpg

Delphinium

Echinacea

Lamb’s ear

Yucca

Roses

closeup pink rose.jpg

Salvia

Evening primrose

Daphne

Boxwood

Rhododendron

Spirea

Dogwood

pink dogwood in bloom.jpg

Mock orange

mock orange.jpg

Azalea

Current

Viburnum

Horse chestnut

Liquid Amber

Honey locust

Crabapple

pink crabapple.jpg

Purple robe locust

Fruit trees (varieties of cherry, plum, pear, peach, apricot)

pear orchard i bloom.jpg

Black oak

Hawthorne

Birch

Aspen

Poplar

Maple

Manzanita (prune without dead wood)

manzanita in bloom - 1 (1).jpg

Walnut 

Harry Houdini wrote, “Fire has always been and seemingly, will always remain, the most terrible of the elements.”  Use your common sense. If you need additional help, consult a professional. Contact your fire department for a Fire Wise walk.

Fires are in our future. Hopefully, we won’t require a green meadow safety zone for survival, yet we need to be prepared. Make firescaping an ongoing conversation. 

In the meantime, get out to weed, water, prune, and maintain. Do what you can to be fire safe.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

See photos and read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. 

Cynthia Brian-Fire Garden Hat.jpg

Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Donate to Fire Disaster Relief via Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 at www.BethestarYouAre.org

fire.jpg

Garden Holly Jolly

Posted by Editor on
0
Empowerment
Garden Holly Jolly

“As the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust, do not burden your heart with judgments but rain your kindness equally on all.” Gautama Buddha

The month of December ushers in a time of joyfulness and giving with gardeners being the most generous givers of all! Harvests of persimmons, walnuts, and pomegranates make for baskets of nutritious and delicious gifts. Root cuttings, potted plants, and arrangements made from bark, branches, and pinecones are natural reminders of the wonders of a pre-winter season. The final flush of rose blooms mixed with orchids create a lush yet simple table display when a few glittering candles are added. With the colder weather, trees are ablaze with their final cloak of autumn hues as an array of colorful leaves litters the ground.
Chrysanthemums are thick with blossoms adding a brightness and lightness to the darkening sky.

We encourage the rain and the intermittent sunshine.

Soon our landscapes will boast sparkling lights and festive decorations to welcome family and friends to enjoy holiday treats. Children of all ages are excited for the surprises that await them for Hanukkah and Christmas.

I’m excited to announce that my much anticipated garden book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Book I in the Garden Shorts series is now available in both color and black and white. Buy directly from www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store for the best price and autographed copies. 25% of your purchase is a donation to Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity (www.BetheStarYouAre.org). With every order placed directly at our store, you’ll receive seeds and extra goodies. This book is a great gift for all the gardeners and nature lovers on your holiday list.

Have a holly jolly December and remember to give yourself the gift of rest and relaxation as there are only minimal garden gardening tasks while Nature takes her annual nap.

Cynthia Brian’s December Gardening Guide

DISCOVER a living conifer at your favorite nursery that can remain in a container for a few years of Christmas decorating.

RAKE fallen leaves to add to the compost pile. Leave a layer of leaves on the ground, however, too many leaves remaining in the garden encourage disease and block the sunshine.

APPLY dormant spray to deciduous fruit trees and roses to smother insects and eggs.

REMOVE dead or dying branches from trees, bushes, and shrubs.

APPLY a layer of mulch (about three inches) to your landscape to keep the heat in and prevent soil erosion.

CONTROL peach blight and peach curl by spraying trees on a windless day with sulfur mixed with dormant oil. Two other applications will be necessary in January and February.

WRAP frost tender plants such as bougainvillea, banana, and bird of paradise in burlap to prevent damage.

GATHER an array of fresh vegetables as you design your holiday menus.

GIVE the gift of my new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, twelve months of inspiration and gardening tips to sustain your inner gardener with a full year of kindness and happiness in nature. Buy directly from www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store and 25% is a donation to Be the Star You Are!® charity PLUS you’ll receive extra goodies and an autographed copy.

CONTINUE planting spring blooming bulbs through the end of January. You’ll enjoy a long lasting parade of flowers throughout the spring.

HANG a spray of magnolia leaves sprayed gold and silver on your front door or mailbox.

ADD merry pink berries to garlands of redwood branches to decorate a mantel or staircase.

FILL a bowl with grapes for nibbling.

SLICE orange Fuyu persimmons or seeds of bright red pomegranates into a salad for a delicious and nutritious treat drizzled with olive oil and homemade vinaigrette.

TIE a gossamer ribbon around a cyclamen, geranium, orchid, or rose to give as a festive hostess gift.

USE the bark of eucalyptus or a lichen covered branch in your holiday décor.

RAIN kindness and gentleness on everyone you encounter.

VISIT with Santa at 5A Rent-A-Space on Saturday, December 2nd from 11-4pm. Be the Star You Are!® volunteers will be present to help kids write letters to Santa. Free event with refreshments and a photo with Santa. 455 Moraga Rd. #F, Moraga. www.bethestaryouare.org/events

REST, relax, and enjoy this season of holly jolly!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

READ MORE AT: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1120/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-December-A-holly-jolly-garden.html

Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. Please make a donation to help with hurricane & fire disaster relief at www.BetheStarYouAre.org.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com.
My new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, is available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.
Available for hire for any gardening project.
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com

For the Birds!

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Empowerment
For the Birds!

Australian kookaburra bird

“I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.” Joseph Addison, essayist and poet (1672-1719)
birdhouses - 6
Are you attracting birds to your backyard? In the past few months, I have received numerous emails and calls from readers literally around the world asking questions about our flying friends. Many people have indicated that the bird population has increased in their landscaping, with some gardeners enjoying first time visitors.
Robins, sparrows, hummingbirds, crows, red tailed hawks, quail, mourning doves, jays, owls, chickadees, wrens, bushtits, mockingbirds, thrashers, robins, yellow warblers, finches, larks, wrens, orioles, blackbirds, tanagers, and many other species are calling Lamorinda home.
cyn-parrot-florida.jpg – Version 2
This past week I adopted a one winged cockatiel named Spunky. He and I immediately bonded as he spawned the impetus to write about the benefits of birds.  Although I’m a novice at identifying many of these wonderful creatures, birds have always fascinated and entertained me as I’ve watched quail with their newly hatched covey convening on my lawn, or the robins annually lay eggs in the wreath on my back door. This year the airspace around my home is particularly jammed with crows cawing. I thought I was experiencing a remake of “The Birds” recently when a convention of turkey vultures and crows assembled on my rooftop. I snapped a photo of two before jumping into my car for safety as twenty other buzzards landed.
buzzards on rooftop - birds-vultures
How long have birds been on the planet? In 1859 Bavaria fossils were found dating to 140 million years ago that suggested that modern birds evolved from a feathered ancestor, Archaeopteryx, similar to a dinosaur. The size of a crow, Archaeopteryx is the probable ancestor of over 9,000 species of birds.
Bartlett Mountains-Nov. - 09
The appeal of birds in our backyards is numerous. While watching their antics and enjoying their beautiful plumage as well as their melodious song is intriguing, the grand dividend for gardeners is their free assistance as garden helpers. Birds are constantly turning over leaves, scratching in mulch, or flitting from bush to tree finding their meal of insects we never see. Birds such as flycatchers and swallows decimate flying pests. Seed-eating birds will glean 95% of the weed seed that grows every season.  When we welcome birds to our backyards, we are creating a home landscape that will naturally ward off diseases and pests. Bacteria and spores struggle to survive as our gardens become more organic creating a natural balance between pests and plants.
birdhouses - 5
Here are ways to maintain flocks flying as your personal aerial garden rescue crew.
1. WATER: A water feature is a magnet for birds, especially in the hot summer months when water is scarce. Add birdbaths, ponds, and fountains for them to bathe, drink, and even forage. Birds can hear the sound of running water from great distances.
2. SHELTER: Birds need to be protected from the whims of Mother Nature. Many birds love brush piles that offer cover. They search for nest building areas and will find your birdhouses, especially those placed in sites that mimic natural surroundings. Some birds, like wrens, will reside nightly in a birdhouse to keep warm and safe. Install roosting boxes and shelves.  If you already have birdhouse, keep them clean. As Miguel de Cervantes wrote “Never look for this year’s birds in last year’s nests.”
3. FOOD: Birdfeeders offer a birds-eye view of their acrobatic displays. Plus, supplementing their meals could be the difference between life and death. Include seed, suet, fruit, nuts, and nectar for the hummingbirds. In the winter, make sure to continue feeding. If you plan to stop feeding your birds, slowly wean them so as not to cut off their food supply.
4. PLANTS: Plant evergreens, vines, shrubs, annuals, and perennials. Birds especially enjoy fruit bearing trees like peach, plum, apricot, and elderberry as well as seed bearing plants like Blackeyed Susan, cosmos, and sunflowers. Hummingbirds are attracted to red, deep-throated flowers with nectar. Include scarlet trumpet vine in your yard. Native species including mustard, wild pea, poppy, shooting star, milkweed, larkspur, lupine, columbine, anemone, bleeding heart, and verbena will draw hummingbirds, butterflies, and seed and insect eating birds to your backyard.
Birdbath-zinnias
Take care of your birds and they will take care of your garden. Life is for the birds!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Garden Tips
birdhouses - 4
GRILL your fresh-picked eggplant, corn, watermelon, and peppers on the barbecue. Brush with olive oil and garlic, sprinkle with salt and sage or cilantro.
PICK pears and Asian pears. Slice up into salads or eat then fresh off the tree.
DIVIDE bearded iris. When iris rhizomes are crowded, they will not bloom. Use a sharp shovel to slice through the rhizomes, then re-plant in other areas or share with friends. Even small pieces will grow into plants.
SUCCESSION plant arugula, lettuce, carrots, beans, and beets for crops that will continue to feed you through fall.
ENJOY the birds. They are favorite friends of our landscapes providing entertainment, pest control, and nature nurture.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
marigolds
• Read more with photos
• Read August Garden Guide

©2015
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
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.

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