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Published May 7th, 2014
Cynthia Brian's Gardening Guide for May
A path lined with larkspur, cineraria, lambs ear, penstemon, and white roses invites a springtime stroll. Photos Cynthia Brian

"Now every field is clothed with grass, and every tree with leaves; now the woods put forth their blossoms, and the year assumes its gay attire." - Virgil
May is one of the most beautiful months of the year in our California gardens. The weather is warm, yet mild, as our landscapes burst into bloom. The birds are chirping while building nests, the bees are buzzing, the frogs are croaking, butterflies and hummingbirds flit through the air. A renaissance of nature is in full swing and we are the delighted recipients of the rewards.
This is the month that we really get up, get out, and get going as summer entertaining approaches. The colors, shapes, textures, and fragrance of spring's cool combinations create a tapestry of sensory explosions. It's easy to spend hours, days even, working the earth to design the drama and harness the harmony that we crave and need. Drought tolerant and native plants are our go-to specimens for the season. Add velvety lamb's ears or gray Artemisia, both deer and rabbit resistant, to your beds of warm hued snapdragons for a punch of genius. For a mega health boost, make sure to plant a variety of carrots in red, orange, yellow, and purple. They are not only great for our eyes, but are loaded with Vitamin A and C, rich in antioxidants, including beta-carotene, high in fiber and cancer fighting nutrients, and low in calories. Welcome to your garden!
 CONSERVE water by sweeping patios and driveways.
 PROVIDE pollen and nectar sources for bees by growing a variety of trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials with many shapes, textures, sizes, and colors. Echium, Goldenrod, Lemon Balm, Sweet Clover, and Borage are all easy to establish and are favorites of our pollinators.
 PLANT summer bulbs of dahlias, gladiolas, cannas, and callas. Once in the soil, forget about them until they sprout and bloom.
 THIN the fruit on your apricot, peaches, pears, plums, and other trees so that your harvest will produce larger fruit.
 SOW seeds for succession plantings of radishes, beets, lettuces, carrots, and beans.
 CONTINUE handpicking snails and slugs or set out bowls of beer to help with the eradication.
 LEAVE the foliage of daffodils, tulips, Dutch Iris, and hyacinth in your garden until the leaves are very dry and crispy. Don't tie them back with rubber bands and don't prune if you want to have flowers next spring.
 SET a packet of seeds on each place setting for your Mother's Day celebration.
 INCLUDE children in the gardening process by allowing them to tend to a special section of the garden. The responsibility and patience learned will last a lifetime plus the pride of growing something instills confidence and grows self-esteem. Suggestions for magical sowing include sunflowers, beans, and carrots.
 CUT stalks of the vibrant Bird of Paradise for a flower arrangement. Whether grouped with bearded iris or arranged as a solitary statement, Bird of Paradise provides a long lasting cut flower that is elegant and different.
 SOAK the seeds of Echinacea for 24 hours before planting. The National Garden Bureau has designated 2014 as the year of Echinacea, one of the top five perennials in the United States. Easy to grow, Echinacea is a magnet for hummingbirds and bumblebees with medicinal benefits as an anti-depressant and immune system booster as extra bonuses.
 TRANSFER pots of tuberous begonias to a shady area where they will bloom for months.
 CLEAN patio furniture. Freshen your outdoor look with paint, new cushions, or throw pillows.
 PHOTOGRAPH your landscape and study the photos to reveal spots that may need added attention.
 DRAPE vigorous climbing clematis on arbors, walls, fences, and trellises for beautiful blooms spring through fall.
 FRESHEN the air in your interiors with a potted anthurium. Besides sucking up harmful VOCs, houseplants have been proven to increase concentration, productivity, and boost well-being.
 BANISH insecticides from your garden to protect our pollinators and birds. The calamity of the bee colony collapse is still puzzling scientists but while researches investigate the cause of this jeopardy, we can do our part to help honeybees survive.
 RAISE the mowing height of your lawn mower and remove the bag at least twice a month allowing the cut grass to feed the roots.
 RAKE your soil to remove debris and lift the matted leaves.
 WEED, weed, weed! Any and all weeds are sapping the moisture and nutrients from your other plants. Get rid of them swiftly.
 WATCH for baby squirrels scampering on fences and trees. Their playful antics are entertaining. (As long as they aren't munching on your veggies!)
 GATHER nasturtium blossoms along with mustard greens and kale to spice up your salads for peppery flavors and bright colors.


 PARTY at the Mother's Day Soiree on May 10 and 11 at Annie's Garden in Richmond with over 2.5 acres of rare native varieties found nowhere else. http://www.anniesannuals.com.
 PICK up your free bag of potpourri at the Be the Star You Are!(r) 501 c3 charity booth at the Moraga Faire in Rheem from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 10. Meet a few of Lamorinda Weekly's Teen Scene writers.
 THANKS to all the Lamorinda Weekly readers who came to meet and chat with me at the Earth Day and Wildlife Festival. Keep on growing!

Celebrate the givers of life this May. Hurray for moms and Mother Nature.
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
StarStyle(r) Productions, LLC
Cynthia is available as a speaker and consultant.

Meyer lemon blossoms fill the air with the fragrance of spring.
Easy to care for with colorful blooms year round, anthuriums, also known as flamingo flowers, scrub the air of common VOCs.
Snapdragons dazzle with color amidst the gray leaves of Artemisia, also known as Dusty Miller.
A baby squirrel climbs the magnolia tree with calla lilies underneath.
Romantic Clematis surprises perennially with its rich, luscious dinner plate size flowers.
Bird of Paradise adds flair to the landscape and to floral arrangements
Cynthia Brian

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