“If you're going to San Francisco…Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair” written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, sung by Scott McKenzie In the summer of 1967 over one hundred thousand young people descended upon San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, and the Haight-Ashbury area to experience a season of love, peace, sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. The Summer of Love, as this counterculture revolution was called, celebrated with free concerts, performances, protests, and flowers. I was never a hippie, but I’ve always been a flower child.
This month as we reminisce about fifty years of the “make love not war” movement, I put on my beads, headband, rose-colored granny glasses, and wore flowers in my hair as I planned the July Gardening Guide. No drugs are necessary to enjoy a euphoric trip down memory lane when the garden is brimming with colorful and edible specimens…magic mushrooms excluded. A romp on the wild side was a fun diversion as I plucked my first juicy tomatoes while watching the iridescent wings of the yellow swallowtails flutter between the violet blossoms of thyme and the budding tomatillos. Bees are swarming the lavender and rosemary gathering nectar for their honeycombs. Because of the heat, I continue to rescue bees and ladybugs that have landed in my fountains. My clematis is chock full of large deep amethyst hued blooms glittering in the sunlight. Pink and white striped morning glory zigs and zags through the golden euphorbia, opening with the sunrise and closing at sunset. Not to be outdone, deep pink sword lilies, commonly known as gladioli, have unfurled their ruffled one-sided spikes amidst the blush Bonica and Dolly Parton roses. The kaleidoscope combination of forms, textures, shades, and scents throughout the landscape add a mesmerizing jolt of joy to each moment.
When I’m ready to relax, I only have to venture into my orchard where the daisy-like florets of the chamomile make for a calming tea, especially enhanced with a squirt of juice from my tangelos. Another excellent medicinal tea is made from foraging for red clover, a wild perennial rich in magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. The red or pink flowers have a mildly sweet flavor and are often used to ease stomach discomfort or menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. The leaves taste like alfalfa sprouts and can be tossed into salads along with dandelions, sautéed, or added to soups. If I’m in the mood for something a bit stronger, it’s always fun to muddle the mint into a mojito or mint julep!
Soon the fireworks of the Fourth of July will be flaring filling the night sky with the exploding whirls and swirls circa a 1960’s acid-dropping experience. Go into your garden, pick a few blooms, and wear flowers in your hair. If you are a gardener, you are a flower child. Welcome to s beautiful summer of love!
Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for July
⎫ MINIMIZE back strain by keeping your back straight not hunched while planting or weeding. Avoid twisting and reaching overhead.
⎫ CREATE walking paths with gravel, stepping stones, or bricks throughout your landscape so that you never compress the soil of your planted beds by walking in them.
⎫ SUPPRESS weeds, retain moisture, and keep a consistent temperature in your soil by adding four inches of compost or mulch around your plants. No need to turn under the compost or mulch.
⎫ PICK tomatoes just as they form a hint of color allowing them to ripen on your countertops. This prevents them from being eaten by birds and insects. Never refrigerate tomatoes as they lose their flavor.
⎫ GET FREE recycled water, up to 300 gallons per trip, from Central San. Visit www.CentralSan.org. You’ll need to fill out an application and bring your own containers. Central San notes that water is very heavy at eight pounds per gallon and is not to be consumed or allowed into storm drains.
⎫ CLEAR away weeds, grasses, dead vegetation, limbs, pine needles, leaves, and debris from all areas around your house to safeguard your home from embers. It’s fire season and we need to be vigilant to reduce fire fuel laddering.
⎫ CUT a bouquet of roses for a punch of stimulation. Sunset colors are perfect for summer.
⎫ DECORATE your dinner parties with edible flowers including pansy, elderberry, calendula, chamomile, clover, daisy, nasturtium, rose, snapdragon, and violets. Most herb and fruit tree blossoms are also edible including apple, banana, basil, chives, citrus, peach, pea, pear, pineapple guava, pumpkin, radish, rosemary, sage, squash, sunflower, and thyme.
⎫ IRRIGATE early in the morning or late evening. Remember to water deeply and less frequently.
⎫ DEEP soak redwoods and magnolias before signs of stress appear or their roots will surface.
⎫ EMPLOY successive planting techniques to continue your crops of lettuce, radish, carrots, and greens. Every three weeks, plant more seeds as you clip and harvest for continual fresh eating through autumn.
⎫ REPEL pests and predators while attracting beneficial pollinators by planting aromatic herbs including rosemary, basil, cilantro, sage, fennel, and thyme.
⎫ ORGANIZE a flower power photo scavenger hunt. Provide a list of ten unusual specimens growing in your garden. Invite friends to find and photograph them for a special prize, perhaps a pot of petunias or a basket filled with gardening tools.
⎫ CONGRATULATE yourself on being a gardener. You are an authentic flower child.
Enjoy a safe and electrifying Independence Day! Embrace your free spirit, dance under the stars, and salute the sunshine as you relish a stellar summer of love.
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener will be available soon!
Hire Cynthia for your next project.