cynthia brian-pelagoniaums, dahlias

“Go forth under the open sky, and listen to Nature’s teachings.”
~ William Cullen Bryant
cosmos, bachelor buttons 4'oclocks
Autumn is with us. The sun is still scorching our soils with heat during the days while the nights offer chilly dew. October is the best month of the fall season to take care of garden chores before winter arrives. With the drought a forever threat, we are all seeking ideas for a low-maintenance garden that will thrive with little care and less water. It is clear that we need to stand under the open sky to listen and look at what Mother Nature is telling us about our future in the outdoors.
Visit your favorite nursery or garden center and talk to the professionals. Choose plants appropriate for your soil and sun requirements. Determine whether you have a shade or sun garden, how much moisture your area needs, then pick the plants that will flourish in those conditions. For example sun-loving specimens such as canna, lamb’s ears, sweet alyssum, geraniums, salvia’s, fountain grass, and boxwood planted densely will out-compete weeds while providing you with an elegant, low maintenance area. Plant the clump forming fountain grass and the evergreen shrub, boxwood, towards the back, with the fragrant sweet alyssum as a border in colors of pink, cream, purple, and white in the front. The wooly silver evergreen lambs-ear with its spikes of purple looks great with the salvia and tall spikes of the robust perennial canna in red, yellow, or orange. Geraniums are available in color clusters of red, pink, white, purple offering continuous blooms above bright green leaves spring through mid winter, when it’s time to prune them to the ground.
red bachelor button queen anne's lace
Other low maintenance plants for full sun include Russian sage, rosa rugosa, daylily, and rudbeckia. For a shade garden, consider hosta, Lenten Rose, and ferns. If your soil is extremely dry, succulents including hen-and-chicks, lavender, sedum, and St. John’s Wort are easy choices while astilbe and Japanese iris will prosper in wet soil. A re-circulating water feature, waterfall, or pond will keep the pollinators around while adding a calming resonance in your environment.
purple veined sorrel
Halloween will be upon us soon. Allow your sunflowers, cornstalks, and pumpkins to continue in the garden until it’s time to decorate.
pumpkins on vine
⎫ MOVE baskets and pots to a shady area when Indian summer is hottest.
⎫ PRUNE your berry vines hard after you have harvested the fruit for easier picking next season.
⎫ ORDER spring bulbs from catalogs now for planting in November
⎫ PICK sorrel to add to salad, sauces, and soups.
⎫ DEADHEAD spent annuals.
⎫ PROPAGATE geranium and pelargonium by cutting back no-blooming stems and planting in damp soil.
⎫ DESTROY invasive star thistle that may have taken root in your garden. Animals and birds will not eat it and it must not be added to the compost pile.
⎫ BUY trees boasting autumn colors now.
⎫ VISIT nurseries to check out the fall selection of plants and bulbs. Suggestions in the tulip category include Greigii, single or double early blooming, triumph, Giant Darwin hybrid, lily flowering, parrot, peony, heirloom, viridiflora, fringed, crispa, single or double late blooming. Amazing how many varieties there are.  Make sure to cool them in the refrigerator for six to 10 weeks before planting. Other bulbs to buy include narcissi (and there is an equal amount of varieties, sizes, shapes, and colors), amaryllis, paperwhites, crocus, galanthus, scilla, iris, freesia, hyacinths, muscari, anemone, fritillaria, Dutch iris, allium, peonies, and Asiatic lilies….for starters.
⎫ CHECK around your house for fire hazards and flammable materials. October is the height of fire season.
⎫ FERTILIZE begonias and roses for more blooms.
⎫ GATHER seeds from bachelor buttons, cosmos, 4 o’clocks to dry and save for spring planting.
⎫ FEED your citrus.
⎫ TRANSPLANT calendulas, Iceland poppies, dianthus, forget-me-nots, primroses, Shasta daisies, agapanthus, and daylilies.
⎫ FREEZE or can your extra harvest of fruit and vegetables for winter health.
⎫ EAT the flowers of chives, garlic, basil, mint, dill, and other flowering herbs. Delicious and pretty in salads, sandwiches, and soups.
⎫ HARVEST the last of your grapes. Add the colorful leaves and twine the vines to form a spectacular autumnal arrangement.
⎫ RAKE your leaves into a compost pile. Add lawn clippings, eggshells, food scraps (no meat), and coffee grounds. Stupendous soil will be ready to use before the holidays.
⎫ Re-seed tired lawns using low-water loving clover for less maintenance, and fast, healthy growth.
⎫ DECORATE your front porch with sunflowers and cornstalks from your garden at the end of the month.
⎫ SAVE sunflower seeds to feed the birds as well as to sow for next season.
⎫ PICK your pumpkins at the end of the month and make a family day of carving Jack O’Lanterns.
⎫ SEE you at the Pear and Wine Festival on September 26th at Moraga Commons. Visit the Be the Star You Are!® booth to receive a FREE brand new book as part of the literacy outreach project, “Read, Lead, Succeed!”  Thanks to our sponsors, Children’s Success Unlimited, Michael Verbrugge Constructions, and The Lamorinda Weekly for making this giveaway possible. Pick up FREE seeds, bookmarks, and potpourri for all of our garden readers.
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing.

nook with geraniums
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.
black eyed susan-lilies
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at

star thistle