By Cynthia Brian
“To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle.”
~ Walt Whitman
Yeah! It’s summer. Time for vacations, swim meets, barbecues, swinging in hammocks!, and…conserving water resources. Our weather patterns have certainly been weird. My car thermostat registered 107 degrees on a Monday in June and two days later I was gathering buckets to catch the downpour. The thirteen hours of welcome rain was not enough to quench the thirst of our landscapes. Brown may be the new green, but I prefer to call our gardens California gold. My lawn crunches when I walk on it and the only green is the slowly spreading striking clover with its tiny pink flowers. Yet, have hope, because as long as we maintain vigilante, come winter, lawns and gardens will revitalize.
Is your garden sunny or shady? When evaluating what to plant where, remember that an area is considered sunny when it gets at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. When an area receives four to five hours of sunshine, it is considered only partly sunny. A shade garden is an area that receives less than three hours a day of sunshine.
This week I received a few new releases of hibiscus from JBerry Nursery. (www.jberrynursery.com) These stunning specimens are called Patio Party with colors that are bursting with flair and frivolity. Although they are advertised as being deer resistant, as soon as I planted mine, our dear deer devoured the flowers and leaves.
I made wire cages to protect the plants and am now considering installing a deer fence. As much as I enjoy observing these munching marauders, with our severe drought, they are hungrier than usual and are eating plants that they’d normally avoid.
Did you read the recent insert of your East Bay Municipal Utility District water bill? With our busy schedules most people toss the extras but this issue of Pipeline discussed the critical water shortage and the mandatory outdoor watering rules. Because these new regulations affect all landscapes, in BOLD I am posting the rules now in effect with a few of my personal recommendations.
- 1. Strict limits on frequency of watering: no more that two non-consecutive days per week with no runoff. I recommend choosing a Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday or Wednesday and Saturday to water. Sundays are a day to rest.
- 2. Strict limits on times: only before 9 a. m. or after 6 p.m. Depending on how long your watering schedule takes, I recommend watering lawns in the mornings beginning anytime after 6 a.m. By doing this, you give your grass time to absorb the moisture and enjoy the sun. When you water your lawn in the evening, you may be inviting lawn moths as the grass doesn’t have enough time to dry. For your flowerbeds, evening is a better time to water as the moisture has twelve to fifteen hours to saturate and quench the earth.
- 3. No watering allowed within 48 hours of measurable rainfall.
- 4. No watering of ornamental turf on public street medians allowed.
- 5. No washing of driveways and sidewalks, except as needed for health and safety. I recommend that you use a broom to sweep or a blower to keep driveways and sidewalks clean.
- 6. Use only hoses with shutoff nozzles to wash vehicles. If you have an area of grass or lawn that is accessible to your vehicle, drive on the lawn and wash your car, using biodegradable soap. Your car gets clean and your lawn gets a drink.
- 7. Turn off fountains or decorative water features unless the water is re-circulated. Remember if you have uncirculated standing water, you are inviting mosquito larvae to hatch. Buy Dunks or add a bit of bleach to keep the water mosquito free.
Conservation is essential and EBMUD will be adopting excessive use ordinances that will penalize households. We may not be able to keep our landscapes beautiful, but we can keep our gardens alive. Just remember they aren’t brown, they are California golden.
Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July
- ⎫ CUT old or overgrown elderberry trees down to the ground. The stump will re-sprout providing better flower and fruit production.
- ⎫ GROW a pollinator garden in a pot with nectar and pollen rich snapdragons, coneflowers, coreopsis, zinnias, thyme, sage, salvias, and sedums.
- ⎫ PLANT tall perennials together as support beams for one another. Make sure to read the tags for spacing details. Don’t overcrowd.
- ⎫ CELEBRATE the 4th of July with a picnic table set with red, white, and blue flowers from your garden. Red roses, dahlias, or alstroemeria, blue agapantha, white gardenia or begonia will be surefire winners.
- ⎫ CHECK for sources of mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes won’t breed in swimming pools as long as the pool is filtered and chlorinated.
- ⎫ REPEL pests and attract beneficial birds and insects by planting aromatic herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, or sage.
- ⎫ REDUCE weeds by mulching with grass clippings, leaves, and other organics. Sweep or blow all of your leaves onto your lawn before mowing. Use a bag on the mower and pour all of the contents into the compost pile.
- ⎫ WATCH the frolicking of the birds in your garden, specifically the California quail. Both the father and the mother tend to their covey of babies.
- ⎫ BLAST aphids with a strong spray from the hose on any plants that have been invaded. If you see ants on your plants, they are protecting the aphids. Get rid of the ants and you’ll also get rid of the aphids.
- ⎫ SPRAY yourself with a bug repellent containing DEET for outdoor festivities when biting insects are present.
- ⎫ BRING miracles into your life by savoring the long days of summer.
Happy Independence Day. May your month of July be filled with fireworks of fun.
Happy Gardening and happy growing.
Read more at Lamorinda Weekly: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue0909/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-July.html
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.
Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.