Digging Deep With Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Bryan

Posted on June 8, 2022
Digging Deep With Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Bryan
Small succulents in pots result in minimal maintenance display Photos Cynthia Brian

“We Californians are constantly accused of not having seasons, but we’re faced with it. We have fires and floods and mud and droughts.” ~ Phyllis Diller

At that time of year again. School is over. The weather is warming. The drought continues. We fear fires. The flood and the mud are distant memories. Because of water restrictions, many homeowners are looking for alternatives for thirsty plants that require a steady drink. Enter the succulent.

Succulents have thick, thick leaves that store water and thrive in warm, dry conditions. They are very low maintenance, prefer dry conditions, and enjoy copious amounts of sun. Aloe vera is a succulent plant, although most gardeners prefer succulents that don’t have thorns, sticks, or prickly pricks. Succulents are beautiful and come in a range of colors including green, silver, orange, yellow, purple, lavender, pink, red, bronze, and mixtures. The more sunlight they receive, the hotter they become. Numerous thick leaves are arranged in rosettes. It is easy to propagate succulents through cuttings. Sometimes, transplanting a single leaf results in a new succulent. They have shallow roots and can be packed together for instant effect. Arranging succulents in vast expanses shows changing colours, textures and shapes resulting in an interesting texture. Replacing a lawn with an impressive array of succulent types, sizes, and shapes is an attractive and relaxing investment. Garden succulents can be mixed with other drought-resistant plants such as lavender, lamb’s ear, verbena, sage, or lantana.

Aeonium, Sedum, Echeveria, Sempervivum, Agave, and Aloe are just a few of the more than 5,000 species of succulents that will thrive in our landscapes.


Native to the Canary Islands, the 35 species of aeoniums tolerate little shade with rosettes that grow taller (about five feet or more) than ground-hugging succulents. Straddling over containers, they add drama to a patio environment, especially with their conical clusters of flowers that bloom on eight-inch stems.

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Mostly concentrated in Mexico and Europe, it is very hardy and useful in dry gardening. They are great in containers and often leak. As ground covers, many are low-growing, making them ideal for rock gardens.


Consisting of rosettes and mostly derived from Mexico, this colorful succulent can be ruffled, round or fuzzy, and features the arching stem of a bell-shaped flower.


Native to southern and central Europe, sempervivum is a succulent rose. The plants flower only once before they die making this genus a monocarp. Before they die, they produce a puppy or chick around their mother plant.


Tequila is made from the agave plant, although agave sap is toxic to both humans and pets. This rose-shaped succulent comes from North America, and has long spiny tips with specimens growing to 10 feet in height and diameter as well as plate-sized varieties. They produce a long flower stalk from their center at maturity, which may span decades, and then die.


There are hundreds of species of aloe vera coming from Africa or Central America. Some are prickly, others are thick and fleshy. Aloe vera is used for medicinal applications and is a “must-have” plant for households, especially useful by squeezing the juice from a leaf onto a wound or burn.

For ideas on creating a garden using succulents and other drought tolerant plants, an informative excursion into the natural environment of Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek is encouraged. www.RuthBancroftGarden.org. Samples can be purchased from their nursery and gift cards are available through their online store.

Goddess Gardener’s Guide

Besides flaunting the succulents, I’m excited that I was picking broccoli. If you haven’t tried growing cole crops, I highly suggest doing so. I grow cabbage, brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower. All parts of plants are edible and are superfoods.

In full bloom now, peonies and gardenias are my all-time favorite flowers to add to wedding bouquets as well as flower arrangements. Peonies last only a few days in a vase; However, its impact is significant. A single gardenia fills the room with a wonderful scent.

June officially begins fire season. Make sure to remove debris from around the structures and cut wild weeds on the ground. Most importantly, have your emergency bag ready and prepare for evacuation, if necessary.

We are in a serious drought with mandatory water restrictions. Maintain your landscape by watering deeply but rarely in the morning and evening.

Perhaps a pot of peonies or a few containers of succulents would be an attractive gift for a garden-loving, water-saving dad on Father’s Day?

Enjoy a succulent summer and stay safe.

Happy gardening. Happy growing. happy Father’s Day!

Leather petals, Graptopetalum rusbyi, another multi-colored rose. Cynthia Bryan pictures
A kaleidoscope of succulents provides texture and shape in the garden. Cynthia Bryan pictures
Aeoniums come together to form a stunning canvas. Cynthia Bryan pictures
Sweet-smelling gardenias are fun bloomers in June. Cynthia Bryan pictures
Beautiful peonies only last a few days in a vase.
Cynthia Bryan in the summer garden.

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available to rent to help you prepare for your summer garden. Growing up in Napa County vineyards, Cynthia is an author, actress, radio personality, speaker, speaker, media and writing coach for The New York Times, and is the founder and CEO of Be the Star You Are! r 501 c3. Listen to Cynthia’s StarStyler radio broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Buy copies of her books, including Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with Gardener Gods, and Be the Star You! www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Get a free inspirational music DVD and special savings. Hire Cynthia to write projects, garden consults, and inspiring lectures. [email protected] www.GoddessGardener.com

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