Dig deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Bryan

Posted on September 13, 2023
Dig deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Bryan
Cut topiary with blue hydrangea photos by Cynthia Bryan

“The Earth! This is where our roots are. There is the foundation of our physical life.” ~Henry Ford

As a gardener, I spend a lot of time thinking about roots. Healthy roots are important indicators of the overall health and survival of plants and trees.

Why are roots necessary?

Anchoring: One of the primary functions of roots is to anchor the plant firmly to the soil so that it cannot be uprooted by wind, water, or other forces of nature.

Absorption: Roots absorb water and nutrients necessary for growth and development. An extensive network of roots increases the plant’s ability to access these resources.

Storage: The root system also stores energy in the form of starches and sugars that can be utilized during periods of drought or new growth.

Transport: The vascular system extends from the roots to the leaves to the stems, facilitating the movement of water and nutrients.

Stabilization: Roots reduce erosion by binding soil particles together making the plant strong and stable.

Microbial Support: Roots contribute to improving soil structure by enhancing microbial activity and decomposition of organic matter. Mycorrhizal fungi and nitrogen-fixing bacteria promote nutrient uptake and protect plants from pathogens.

Aeration: Roots create small channels in the soil as they grow. These channels allow oxygen to penetrate deeper into the soil, promoting a healthier ecosystem. The roots also prevent soil compaction which helps improve water infiltration and growth.

Drought Resistance: Can survive periods of drought due to its deep root systems and taproots.

Without healthy roots, all plants will struggle to survive.

Human roots are also important.

Friends recently invited my husband and I to a picnic and private wine tasting at Beringer Brothers in St. Helena. “How fun,” I replied. “It will be great to be back on my stomping ground.” Although we had been friends for years, and they knew I grew up in vineyards, they didn’t know the story of my roots. I will share with you a snippet of my heritage.

My paternal grandfather, Fred Abruzzini, was the son of Italian immigrants who immigrated to America via Canada at the turn of the century. As a boy, he started working with my great uncle at Cribari Winery in Madrone where he became the winemaker.

Between Prohibition and the Great Depression, many California wineries closed their doors. Beringer Brothers was faltering. Federal agents suggested to Bertha Berenger that she hire someone of integrity and knowledge, such as Fred Abruzzini. He drove to St. Helena, and when he saw the caves, he thought he could make some good wine. In 1932, at the age of 28, in exchange for his free rein, he was hired to be Beringer’s manager, winemaker and chief promoter. He bet on Franklin Delano Roosevelt being elected president and ending Prohibition, so he began crushing more grapes and making wine and port.

Prohibition ended in 1933, and in 1934 Grandpa had the innovative idea of ​​opening the cellars to the public for tours and, on special occasions, for free tastings. For the 1939 Golden Gate World’s Fair, a world’s fair held on Treasure Island, he created the first color map of “one of the most delightful one-day excursions in California” where all roads lead to Berenger. He, my grandmother, my father and uncles would drive 60 miles every evening to distribute maps. Tourists came. He sent boxes of wine to Hollywood celebrities inviting them to stop by and ensured that local and national newspapers reported these events with photographs in front of the carved barrel. Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Charles Laughton, Tom Mix, Ginger Rogers, Roy Rogers, Abbott and Costello, Max Baer, ​​Rudy Vallee, and a host of other notable figures would visit frequently and become friends. Fred became a legend in Napa Valley thanks to his publicity for the wine industry and putting it on the map.

As kids, we rode horses, barbecued, caved, and played in the winery. For many years, grapes from our vineyards have been crushed and made into Berenger wine. Grandpa was killed in 1988 when a giant elm tree fell on him while he was mowing his garden. He would be proud to know that the roots he planted as the first person to offer tours and tastings to the public have grown into the beautiful and popular Napa Valley wine destination it is today.

The first grape cane cuttings planted by my grandfather are rooted and thriving in my garden. His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have continued his legacy.

the roots. Yes, it is the foundation of our physical life.

The Goddess Gardener’s September Gardening Guide

– Deeply soak the roots of trees in need with a soaker hose during dry periods.

Remove aphids from plants by mixing 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Spray infested plants daily to suffocate aphids.

– Harvest apples, Asian pears, Bartlett pears, grapes, blackberries, tomatoes, prickly pears, and quince.

– Cutting and drying large hydrangea heads for indoor bouquets.

– Plan to plant cover crops to add maximum benefits to your soil during the winter. Autumn mixes can include seeds of legumes, grasses, cereals, brassicas, vetch, rye, clover and radishes. This will suppress weeds, add aeration and increase soil buildup.

– Send a plant to college with your student to keep the indoor air clean while improving memory and focus. Prayer plants, peace lilies, pothos and snake plants are easy-to-grow specimens that adapt well to bedrooms.
– Save seeds from your favorite perennials.

– Deadhead roses for several more waves of bloom before January.

– Trim the shrub and turn it into a creative topiary!

Enjoy the bright colors of impatiens in borders and beds.

– Enjoy your roots!

Happy gardening! Happy growing!

Mark your calendar:

On Saturday, September 30, Be the Star You Are!r will host a booth sponsored by Lamorinda Weekly and MBJessee Painting at the Pear and Wine Festival in Moraga. Stop by to plant seeds and pick up bags of free dried paper. More information at https://www.bethestaryouare.org/events-1/2023-pear-and-wine-festival

Bright impatiens are perfect in fall borders. Photos by Cynthia Bryan
Winemaker Fred Abruzzini with Clark Gable in front of Beringer’s famous carved barrel. Photos by Cynthia Bryan
The map from 1939 includes a pleasant day trip from the Bay Area. Photos by Cynthia Bryan
Ripe Zinfandel grapes. Photos by Cynthia Bryan
Chinese fringe flowers with spiral topiary.
Continue deadheading roses for continued blooms.
Prickly pear fruits are delicious. Wear gloves when exfoliating.
Quinces make excellent jams and jellies.
For more gardening tips for all seasons, check out Growing with the Goddess Gardener at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/books. Raised on the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia Bryan is a New York Times bestselling author, actress, radio personality, speaker, media coach, and writer, as well as the founder and CEO of Be the Star You Are!r 501c3. Listen to Cynthia’s StarStyler radio podcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com. Her newest children’s picture book, Family Forever, from the Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures series is available now at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store. Hire Cynthia for writing projects, gardening consultations, and inspiring lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com http://www.GoddessGardener.com
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