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Creating a Sustainable Summer Garden in Sonoma County: Eco-Friendly Tips


We had the most perfectly beautiful and joyful Spring almost all the way through June with cool temperatures, some drizzle from lovely coastal cloud cover and even rain. Plants and trees are thriving. I’ve even noticed some tall yellow wildflowers that look like wild achillea I’ve never seen before alongside the Sonoma Regional Park on Highway 12.

We made it through one of the longest, coldest, rainiest winter seasons ever or at least for as long as I can remember here. And so quickly! Mid-May to late June it felt like we went from Winter to Spring to Summer during which the deciduous oaks went from bare twigs to full leaf in one week. Grapevines, too. Amazing! Who says natives don’t like water? Not true! They are of course more resilient to drought but they LOVE water and have responded in kind along with a continuing dazzling display of wildflowers everywhere.


Yellow flowers and rolling hills Northern Califrnia

It is July 3rd as I write. After a couple of days of temperatures soaring close to 100 again, we have been reminded that Summer is definitely here now. Green fields have turned to gold. The weed whackers are in full operation as long as this is done very early in the morning to minimize a risk of sparking fire. So are we busy in gardens with everyone’s need to fine-tune their irrigation systems! It sure was nice not to need those for a good, long while!


For those of us who want vegetable and flower gardens, it is the very last chance to get them going. For those of us who were courageous enough to get them going in May and June, bravo and everything should be growing well as long as you are watering regularly and feeding as needed. Dead-heading and weeding is all there is to do while everything grows. Erecting a frame for shade cloth is a good idea for any tender starts and when the temperatures soar with scorching sun. Incorporate herbs too and edible flowers such as borage and nasturtium.


It is so easy now to research plants on line and get all the information you need as to what, when and how. Plants have different sun or shade exposure and watering needs which is why it is best to group the same for an irrigation system station.


Herb Seedlings for Summer Planting

Now all the great summer flowers are still mostly available as starts in your local nurseries: cosmos, salvias, sunflowers including the Mexican ones, yarrows, lavenders, zinnias, gardenias, butterfly bushes, lion’s ears, poppies, daisies and annuals of all kinds and too many more to list are still there.


Cosmos Flowers

TIPS: Get stakes and ties as needed. Get Bloom liquid fertilizer, feed all your plants and get a good compost such as Soil Booster as mulch. For roses feed with specialized rose food, and keep them dead headed. Secret to that is to cut right above 5 leaves. Feed citrus its specialized food. Water regularly, twice a day in the heat of summer for 10 minutes on drip say at 6 am and 7 pm. Do not overhead water in the heat of the day or it will scorch leaves and flowers. A good rinse off in the evening after sunset is fine and an occasional deep watering of fruit and other shrubs and trees is welcome. Keep vines and ivy under control. Prune dead flowers or as it is called dead-head.


Time to hang out in the garden comfortably under umbrellas or arbors, in hammocks or lounge chairs. Time to have some outside lighting for pathways and to showcase big trees. Time for barbecues and games. It’s time to have potted flowers blooming, dining tables and chairs and the expansion of our homes to the outdoors. It’s why we live here!


Water Feature Mayacamas Mountains Sonoma Valley, California Design by Deva Gardening

It is also a good time to consider incorporating a water feature into your garden.


If not only for the soothing oasis sound of running water, but also for the birds and bees!


Simple Water Feature using Wine Barrels Deva Gardening Sonoma Valley


It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.


It can be as simple as a couple of half whiskey barrels, one on top of the other, with plastic liners you can buy ready-made, a pump and voila!


“Summer time and the living is easy” is the old song. Our reservoirs are full and so we hope the “fish are jumping”, too.

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