“The law of living is giving
The nature of nature is giving
The clouds are giving rain
Trees are giving fruit
Earth is giving grain
Moon and stars are giving light
With gifts of nature’s giving, we are living to complete the cycle of living, and giving
Let us give from our mind, hands, and heart to the world.” Chitrabhanu
Like a middle child, July emerges with a bang, fireworks, parades, and the celebration of our American independence. Sandwiched between the end of school, graduation, and Father’s Day month of June and the vacation, travel, back-to-school month of August, July must grab our attention swiftly, less it be lost between it’s frenzied siblings. And capture our interest it does with an abundance of luscious fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs to nurture our bellies, and a profusion of sizzling hot hued plants to seduce our spirits.
Summer is in full swing in the garden.  This is the season of plenty.  For a gardener, the shed becomes a playhouse, and shears the tool of choice as we trim, cut, prune, and fill our baskets with food and flowers to share. Containers are overflowing with pretty petunias and spilling lobelia as we welcome our visitors to a party on the patio.
We witness the bud burst of agapanthus into brilliant blue blooms within days. Gladioli spires shoot for the stars, their cherry throats contrasting spectacularly with the grays of the dusty miller.  Honeybees dance on the magnolias, hollyhocks, penstemons, and flowering succulents, sucking the nectar and pollinating surrounding specimens. Fences of scarlet trumpet vine herald the arrival of butterflies and hummingbirds. Asiatic lilies in colors of the rainbow poke their heads above the crowd making sure they are recognized. Hydrangea blooms are as big as beachballs, mandevilla and pink bower vine enliven arbors and pergolas. The garden is alive, vibrant, and waiting to be enjoyed.
Like all celebrations, there are always a few inconveniences that need to be addressed.  Here are my favorite ways of eliminating the pests.
Yellow Jackets:  If you have yellow jackets plaguing your summer barbecues, you need to follow the yellow flyers back to their nest. Yellow jackets live and hatch in holes in the ground. While it is advised to hang a trap only on the day of your event, contrary to popular belief, the more yellow jacket traps you set, the more yellow jackets you’ll have to contend with because when a soldier dies, the Queen doubles her duty to produce more warriors for the colony. The hard part is finding the nest. Once you’ve located it, instead of buying a spray, call Vector Control.  A professional will come free of charge, dress in a bee keepers suit, and go to work spraying the nest with long hoses to kill the queen. The problem with commercial repellents is that they can’t get far enough into the tunnels. When my yellow jacket issue arose, Vector informed me that the underground nest was probably at least thirty feet of winding chambers filled with thousands of yellow jackets. 
Mosquitoes: Plant lemongrass, the main repellent ingredient in citronella candles. Crush or dry the leaves, mix with alcohol or oil and apply to your body, clothing, or make a spray for outdoor areas as a deterrent. Set out citronella candles and torches. Buy Dunks for your fountains, which don’t hurt wildlife but kill the mosquito larvae, and call Vector Control again to get mosquito fish if you have a pond.  The ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent Patio Lantern sold at hardware  and home stores is another great resource. 
Snails and Slugs: If snails and slugs are munching your seedlings, handpick at night when they are feeding, wrap copper strips around perimeters of the problem area, or trap in pans of beer. Coffee grinds and wood ash are also deterrents.  Make sure to remove garden debris and look under rocks and flowerpots.  Since they are hermaphroditic, they will fertilize themselves producing thirty to 120 offspring that begin eating the moment they hatch.
With the irritants under control, focus your attention on pleasant summer guests. Quail, robins, finches, and orioles brighten the landscape with their song and their antics. Provide birdbaths, fountains, and feeders to keep them frolicking in your yard.  Fill a clay saucer with water for the butterflies and if you have a swimming pool, rescue the bees that attempt a drink but are doomed to drown.  Don’t confuse bees with yellow jackets. Bees don’t hover around food, only yellow jackets do.
The feast begins in the orchards, potagers, vegetable, and herb gardens. Plums, apricots, peaches, apples, nectarines, and cumquats are at their peak.  Berries of many varieties ripen this month including blackberries, elderberries, blueberries, raspberries, fuchsia berries, and strawberries.  With the exception of the elderberry, pick and eat straight from the vine or tree or make heavenly pies, smoothies, jams, jellies, and sorbets.  Bulb fennel boasts sprays of yellow flowers, tomatoes, peppers zucchini, and cucumbers are sweet and prolific.  Home gardener’s are privy to their own customized produce aisle.
The season of plenty is upon us. Stand, salute, and raise the flag. The greatest reward is sharing the treasures from our own soil. A garden is to give. A garden is to grow. 
Happy gardening and happy growing to you!
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany are excited to announce that their long running radio show, StarStyle®Be the Star You Are!® is moving to the Voice America Network. Live broadcasts begin Wednesday, July 3 from 4-5pm Pt/7-8pm ET at http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are.  You will still be able to access all our previous shows through June 2013 at our World Talk Radio site as well here http://www.voiceamerica.com/worldtalkradio/vshow.aspx?sid=764.  All shows are archived with photos, descriptions, links and more at http://www.StarStyleRadio.com. Come join our power party on Voice America.