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Summer of Succulents!

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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.

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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

Home Security, Forever Young, Plant it Now! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Home Security, Forever Young, Plant it Now! By Cynthia Brian

wheel of fortune- cyn, nonie, heather – Version 3

According to a recent FBI study, daytime crimes accounted for 66% of all burglaries nationally. Do you know how to keep your home and property safe while you are present as well as on vacations? In T42, Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany offer concrete tips based on research that will help you be secure.
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We live in a youth oriented society. Once over thirty, everyone yearns to be younger.  How can we stay young as we age? Surround yourself with love and joy and find out how to be forever young.
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With the West Coast drought still on high alert, Cynthia Brian visits the Ruth Bancroft Garden for lesson in bold dry gardening. Find out what succulents are easy to grow for the present and for posterity.

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The award winning positive talk radio program, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasts on the Voice America Empowerment Channel LIVE every Wednesday from 4-5pm Pt/7-8pm ET..  Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany are the Mother/Daughter dynamic duo who have been co-hosting this program live weekly since 1998 bringing upbeat, life enhancing conversation to the world. With Cynthia’s expertise in interviewing the trailblazers, authors, and experts and Heather’s healthy living segments, these Goddess Gals are your personal growth coaches helping you to jumpstart your life while igniting your flame of greatness. Brought to the airwaves under the auspices of the literacy and positive media charity, Be the Star You Are!®, (http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org) each program will pump your energy to help you live, love, laugh, learn, and lead.
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Romp in Ruth Bancroft Gardens By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Romp in Ruth Bancroft Gardens By Cynthia Brian

 

ruth bancroft 108 years, cynthia brian

“Who cares if I’m not around? If I don’t plant it, then nobody will get to see it!” Ruth Bancroft

Since as long as I can remember I have always said that I wanted to live to be 108 years old. Why I chose that number I have no idea as I had never met anyone who lived to be 108…until this week when I met Ruth Bancroft, creator of the Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek. Ruth turned 108 years young on September 2nd and I was privileged enough to celebrate her birthday with bubbly and her favorite chocolate cake in her masterpiece dry gardens that she began planting in the 1970’s.

Ruth’s gardening passion began as a child in Berkeley. When she moved through the tunnel to Walnut Creek she became a collector. Her efforts, trials, tribulations, and experiences along the way are chronicled in the new Timber Press book, The Bold Dry Garden, penned by Johanna Silver, the garden editor of Sunset Magazine, and photographed by Marion Brenner. With the entire West coast on drought alert, the Ruth Bancroft Gardens are a model for low-water plantscaping. If you have ever been curious about succulents, cacti, yuccas, and other desert plants that will flourish in the East Bay, this beautiful book will become an essential reference guide.
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Our local water company states that water use was 24% less in 2015 than it was in 2014, saving enough water to fill the Oakland Coliseum seventy one times! As homeowners rip out lawns in favor of xeriscaping, we’ll focus on the benefits of adding low maintenance, low water use plants, and planting them NOW to your garden.
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Although I have a lifetime of gardening experience, I’m not sure that I will ever become an expert in any one area of horticulture, as gardens are living, breathing, evolving, growing entities that are constantly changing.  What I adore about Ruth’s garden is this consistent evolution. Each time I visit a new vista or display greets me, even from the same specimens as the first visit. The colors, textures, and sizes are in perpetual motion from California natives to the canopy of trees, the rosettes of terrestrial bromeliads to the swords of the yuccas.
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Here are a few of Ruth’s prized collection that you can grow in your garden for your benefit and that of your great grandchildren’s children .

Aeoniums: One of the most popular plants of all of the succulents, aeoniums have lovely fleshy rosettes that will reach towards the heavens, mound in purgatory, or cascade towards hell. They prefer a bit of shade and are easy to cultivate and grow in the ground and in containers.

Yuccas: These sword shaped plants are native to the Americas and the Caribbean and like hot, dry regions. In their natural habitat they are pollinated by the yucca moth.  Although yuccas are grown mostly for ornamental use, many species use the seeds, flowers, stems, and sometimes the roots for food and medicine.

Echeveria: Many of the most beautiful small succulents are echeveria, often confused with aeoniums because of their rosettes. Their leaf colors are brilliantly hued and they boast flowers in red, orange, white, yellow, purple, and pink.  They grow well between rocks and are a terrific ground cover or garden filler.
Most echeveria species hail from Mexico.

Sedums: A hardy perennial with thick, fleshy leaves and stems and clusters of pretty flowers, sedums are most popular for ground covers, borders, and rock gardens.  They require minimal to no care at all, are easy to propagate from cuttings, and are drought resistant.

Aloe: The best friend plant for anyone with a sunburn, cut, or bite, aloe is known as nature’s soothing succulent. Aloes relieve itching and irritation on the skin, reduce redness and swelling by inhibiting the body’s release of histamine. In a garden, aloes bloom in bright colors of red, orange, and yellow with over 500 species ranging from tiny to tree height. These unfussy favorites are a “must have” in any garden or container.

Agave: With over 200 species native to the Americas, agaves are diverse in colors, shapes, sizes, and spines.  Agaves are sculptural. They can be a focal point in a landscape or can mix well with other plantings. Before planting an agave, make sure to read the label to determine the final size of the plant. Some agaves have a full- grown diameter of 13 to 14 feet while others remain small and compact.  
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Barrel Cactus: Always armed with heavy spines and prominent ribs, barrel cacti are known as the “fierce or wild cactus”.  Flowers always grow at the top without spines. Native Americans boiled the flowers to eat like cabbage. The fruits are considered inedible. Barrel cacti add a fascinating form to any landscape when planted in circles or artistic ways.
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Prickly Pear Cactus: Optunias, commonly called prickly pear cactus have yellow, red, purple, or orange fruit that is delicious and sold in stores as tuna. The paddles are called Nopales and used in many ethnic recipes.  The soluble fibers of both the fruit and the paddles are considered to stabilize blood sugar. These cacti make a great fence to keep out human and animal invaders as the spines are tiny and very sharp. My sister surrounded her property with optunias which bear enough fruit for a weekly farmer’s market booth.

Although I’ve concentrated on the desert plants, the Ruth Bancroft Garden reveals a softer side with riffs of bulbs, wildflowers, grasses, and California natives. A visit to the Ruth Bancroft Garden is a must-do for anyone interested in learning more about dry and drought tolerant gardening. We are fortunate to have one of the nation’s most renowned public gardens literally in our back yard with a collection of rare specimens available for sale that will enhance your landscape while saving precious water. www.RuthBancroftGarden.org.

Embrace your sense of curiosity. Employ a few of Ruth Bancroft’s dry gardening specimens. Gardens are a legacy to our future and the time to plant is today.  In 108 years, who will be enjoying your garden?

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Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
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©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

Hang Time! by Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Hang Time! by Cynthia Brian

“Flowers and fruit are only the beginning. In the seed lies the life and the future.”
  — Marion Zimmer Bradley,
greens of hostas
Fruit, luscious, juicy, tantalizing ripe fruit! There is no better nor satisfying delicacy than the fruit you grow in your own backyard. Whether it’s a pot or a plot, growing your own is the way the rock it! With our long warm summer days at their height, fruit and vegetables are ripening quickly awaiting plucking for our feasts. Apricots, plums, prunes, mulberries, loquats, tangelos, and tangerines are just a few of the gems hanging from my trees right now. Soon there will be mouth-watering peaches, pears, apples, guavas, nectarines, and figs. Tomatoes have taken up the space left by harvested greens, while beans, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and tomatillos are racing to the finish line. It’s a virtual Farmer’s Market in my garden and this is exactly the way I like to eat. Every day I walk into my potager to fill baskets with crunchy deliciousness for our supper. I never know what I’ll be creating in the kitchen until I see what’s ready to harvest.

I continue to sprinkle lettuce and arugula seeds in the empty spaces to extend my summer, fall and winter crops. My recommendation is to sow rows of bush beans, carrots, and radishes or any other vegetable every three weeks to satisfy your cravings for freshness. Remember to continue to replenish the soil with nutrient rich compost to keep productivity high.
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Did you know that that average home gardener only spends $359 per year on gardening supplies and plants as reported in a study conducted by Money.com? That seems ridiculously low when you consider that growing your own tomatoes will save you an average $9.50, cucumbers $8.00, peppers $3.60, green beans $2.50, and carrots $3.50.  And that doesn’t include the spectacular taste, increased vitamins, and the fact that you actually know what you put into your soil!  When it comes to homegrown fruits and vegetables, I am a garden to table snob. The finest, healthiest, most cost efficient source of nutrients is waiting for you in the garden. Dig in!

With the barbeque season in full swing, delight guests with grilled stone fruit. Cut peaches, nectarines, or apricots in half, remove the pit, brush with olive oil and drizzle a bit of honey. Grill for a minute or two on each side. Serve with goat cheese, arugula, or as a side dish. Fresh, surprising, and oh, so delicious…a burst of sweetness with your 4th of July fare. About those pits…if you want another fruit tree, plant in potting soil in a container and watch the new life grow. It’s hang time.

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Cynthia Brian’s Fresh Ideas for July

MULCH before the heat of summer begins. If you can use an entire truck-load of wood chips, tree service companies are happy to give you free chips. Mulching keeps the soil cooler while decreasing the weed population.

COMBINE arugula, mint, and sage in a food processor with a splash of olive oil and pepper for a mouth-watering variation on traditional pesto. Add the grated cheese of your choice to use over pastas, in soups, or whirled in an omelet.

HYDRATE yourself with fruits from the garden including watermelon, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries, and corn. A slice of watermelon provides you with at least ten ounces of water while a medium peach will give you five ounces of H20.

RELIEVE anxiety and stress by cutting a bouquet of lavender, then crushing the flowers in your palms. Inhale the healing fragrance before bed for a restful slumber.
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WATCH for snakes! Gopher snakes and King snakes have been slithering through my grass. Don’t be alarmed, snakes eradicate rodents including gophers, moles, rats, and mice.

SHOWCASE your horticultural talents by mixing textures, colors, and sizes in your garden, always being away of water, sunlight, and soil PH needs. A lemon-lime nandina paired with a black adder phormium and a purple salvia are spectacular bedmates.

PEPPER your garden by throwing seeds of Love in a Mist and California poppies. The colors look smashing together and both re-seed. Plus Love in a Mist seedpods make fantastic dried flowers.

WANT a lush landscape? Embrace the beauty of leaves. Foliage plants have dramatic impact, especially when grouped together. Hosta, heuchera, coleus, and variegated plants are showstoppers, specifically in shaded areas.

PLANT gladioli bulbs for summer drama with long stalks of trumpet shaped florets that are considered hummingbird heaven.
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COVER an unsightly fence with clematis. Read the tags to learn the correct sun exposure, then let the explosion of blooms blow your mind. Clematis make great cut flowers too.

TUCK succulents in between other plantings. Most succulents shoot up spires of blooms as an added bonus. Of course, succulents are very drought tolerant and an excellent choice for our gardens. To get a better idea of the variety of succulents that fare well in our area, visit The Ruth Bancroft Gardens in Walnut Creek.

GRILL vegetables (as well as stone fruit) on the barbecue. A variety of zucchini, peppers, and corn are always excellent choices. Don’t shuck the husks on the corn to keep the nutrients and flavor inside. Slip basil or cilantro inside for added flavor.

THINK about what bulbs and rhizomes you will want to buy to plant in the fall. Do you want more daffodils, tulips, Dutch iris, anemones, or something more exotic? Catalogues are a great way to get your lists started.

THANKS to everyone who has emailed me with positive notes about these columsn. I do appreciate all of my readers and want you to be the best gardeners ever!

CELEBRATE the Fourth of July by dressing up in your sparkly red, white, and blue to HANG out in your personal paradise.

Let the fireworks fly! Happy 240th Independence Day.
purple clematis
Happy gardening. Happy growing!

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©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Garden and plant consultations by appointment.

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