Cynthia Brian

Water-Wise Landscaping

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
Water-Wise Landscaping

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

Growing Water-Wise

By Cynthia Brian


“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo Da Vinci


Welcome to Summer! It’s going to be a hot one. 

If the newest studies reviewing tree rings are correct, we are currently in the worst drought since 800 A.D. The first three months of this year registered the least rain and snow on record. While we plunge into pools to cool off, our gardens will struggle to survive. Conserving water is top of mind as our climate becomes warmer. It’s time for all of us to plan to grow water-wise.

I recently attended a seminar sponsored by Monrovia and came away with increased awareness of how to maintain healthy landscapes during the dry seasons. There are numerous plants besides cacti and succulents that have low water requirements. When we re-think drought-tolerant landscapes, we may continue to enjoy our gardens with colorful and interesting trees, grasses, shrubs, and flowers. 

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Drought-tolerant perennial contenders include:


Blanket flower,









Red hot poker

Kangaroo paw


Spanish lavender

African daisy




Everlasting sweet pea



Sea holly



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Shrubs with minimal water needs are: 



Pride of Madeira

Heavenly bamboo


Smoke tree


Butterfly bush

Hydrangeas that are three to four years old will do fine. Younger specimens will require more water.

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Vines that I recommend are:




Climbing and rambling roses. 


Annuals don’t have roots that go as deep as perennials. They focus energy on flowering which requires increased moisture. 

These annuals usually require only weekly watering to one inch as opposed to daily drinks:





California poppy

Globe amaranth



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Wax begonia

To minimize water waste, prioritize planting drought-tolerant perennials, shrubs, and trees and augment with color spots of annuals. Established plants do better in a drought than in a newly planted landscape. A plant is considered established when its roots have taken hold and spread in the soil. Perennials take a year to be established plants. A shrub could take two to three years, and most trees need three or more years. For this reason, it is always recommended to plant a garden in spring and fall when the weather is milder. 


In a drought, paying attention to our trees is critical.  Give established trees a deep soak every three to four weeks to keep roots from rising to the surface. Trees will experience leaf drop in the heat, but the tree will survive. If your trees are two years old or younger, an easy way to give them a good drink is to drill holes in a five-gallon bucket to allow water to slowly trickle to the roots. When you use a soaker wand, make sure to position it six feet or more from the trunk of the tree or at the end of the canopy as that is where the roots are. Roots are not at the base.

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A sampling of California native trees that will be beautiful and survive in a drought include:




Marina strawberry

Desert willow




Crape myrtle


Keep an eye on your oak trees. They tend to topple over without any wind when they either have too much moisture or not enough. 

As much as we love our vegetable gardens, this season only grow what you will eat or share with family and friends. Because of the lack of water, it is not prudent to overplant. Herbs are mostly drought-tolerant, especially rosemary. 

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To grow in water-wise knowledge, we need to embrace varied techniques for watering.

1.     Water early in the day before the temperature warms.

2.     Test your soil to determine its dryness. Only water when the soil is dry two to four inches down.

3.     Even on the hottest days, don’t be tempted to give your plants an extra drink.

4.     Group plants with similar watering needs in one area.

5.     Check irrigation systems for leaks.

6.     Inspect drip systems to make sure the hoses are not strangling plants.

7.     Watering deeply twice a week will keep your plants alive.

8.     Mulch, mulch, mulch with layers of at least three inches. 

9.     When adding to your garden in the summer, do so on a cool or cloudy day.

10.  Include water-conserving measures indoors by taking shorter showers. Keep a bucket in your showers and sinks to use for containers or outside. 

In the water restriction days during the extreme drought of the 1970s, the slogan was “If its brown flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow,” as each flush wasted seven gallons. 

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June 20- 26 is designated as pollinator week. Bees, butterflies, birds, bats, beetles, wasps, and moths as well as smaller mammals transport pollen to various species to make our gardens grow. Without our pollinators, we would have no food. Honor these hard-working garden helpers by making your garden pollinator friendly. 

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Take the plunge and grow water-wise this summer. Have a safe and healthy Independence Day!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

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Photos and More:

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at

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Buy copies of her books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD and special savings.

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.

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Honoring Grads and Dads!

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
Honoring Grads and Dads!

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“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society.”  Billy Graham 


The day I graduated from CAL Berkeley was a momentous occasion. As I walked across the stage in my cap and gown to receive my diploma, the realization that I was the very first person in my family to go to college was history-making. Being farmers, my parents did not have the money to send any child to college.  But I was determined and they encouraged me to find a way to finance the dream. From the time I was eight years old, I raised chickens and sold the eggs, carefully saving every penny to achieve my goal of a university education. Throughout my college years, I worked full time at a variety of jobs to pay for food, books, rent, tuition, and everything necessary to survive. Going to college was the best investment of my life. 

When it came to parents, I hit the golden jackpot. Living on a farm, we didn’t have many material possessions but my parents bestowed so much love and confidence on their five children that we always felt like the richest people in the world. It was my Dad that build the chicken coop so that I could venture on my higher educational ambition. It was my Dad that shined his bald head so that i could confidently look out at the audience as i strolled across that stage and, seeing his bald head know how much I was loved.  It was my Dad that cried when he walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. It was my Dad that upon his deathbed comforted me by saying “My end is your beginning.” My Dad always was and will always be my hero.

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June is the month to celebrate educational milestones from pre-school to graduate schools. It takes work, perseverance, and support to graduate. 

June is also the month to honor the magnificent men in our lives that have nurtured us to be the people we are today.

Congratulations to graduates everywhere and thank you to the fathers who have made so much possible. 

We honor you.

 And remember, every day is a new beginning. Never give up on your dreams!

With gratitude,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556


Two Teen Poets Honor Dads

Ruhani Chhabra headshot stars orangeRuhani Chhabra and Sharanya Roy are two young volunteers with Be the Star You Are!® that we lovingly call “our resident poets!” They both created a short film with original poetry for the Earth Gratitude Festival and today, share their insights on fatherhood.

Read their complete poems at

A Father’s Love

by Ruhani Chhabra

a father’s love is subtle yet strong,

captured in the nighttime shadows

as he waits for his little girl to come home,

the kitchen clock ticking with the reminder time has passed

since those early days soaked with white sunlight,

when she’d giggle deliriously on his secure shoulders.

he’d take her to soccer practice and sleepovers,

attend recitals that he found less enjoyable than his wife did.

he wiped blood from her knee

when she first learned to ride a bike,

and the wound hurt him more than her.

he was greeted with gleeful cries with his presence,

in the evening when he came home exhausted

but he was never too tired to gather her in his arms.

she didn’t realize it then,

but he was never to remain so strong and unbeatable,

her father was really just a man,

a man in the nighttime shadows,

whose lower back ached from age

and eyes drooped from sleep he didn’t allow;

only the confirmation that his daughter

was safe could propel him into

a relaxed rest.

her father was only a man,

built from his childhood dreams

and shaped by how the world treated him

just like everyone else.

(continued at

BTSYA volunteer, Ruhani Chhabra is passionate about creative writing and has been exploring her craft since she was very young. At the age of ten, she published her first book, The Karris Family. Since then, she’s been nationally and globally recognized for her short stories, poems, personal essays, and dramatic scripts. Through being a reporter and host at Express Yourself! Teen Radio,  she hopes to become more interactive with people. Her focus is on teen leadership and her segment is titled, Teenship.

My Favorite Superhero

Sharanya-STARSuperheroes are everywhere,

In TV shows, movies, books,

But the world can’t see the superhero who can’t fly,

Jump over buildings,

And read everybody’s mind.

This superhero has a fascination for groceries,

And would buy a house inside of Safeway,

This superhero would sleep and procrastinate,

This superhero only reads weird non-fiction or self-help books,

Which have SAT level vocabulary.

He doesn’t wear capes,

Or a Spandex Suit,

With cool graphics displayed everywhere,

In fact all he wears are jeans and T-shirts,

With a pair of thin-wired glasses set on his face.

His name isn’t a household name which is mentioned all the time,

Nobody knows him with a cool and unique name,

Like “Iron Man” or “Spiderman”,

His real name is quite simple and is often mispronounced,

And his superhero alias is one word with two repeating syllables,


Words uttered from a baby’s mouth.


He is my favorite superhero because he is always there to save the day,

Whether it is with his very passionately cooked dishes,

Or instant math help,

He is always there to cheer me on,

And even if he physically doesn’t save the nation from doom,

His soul lights up the earth’s very core.

BTSYA volunteer, Sharanya Roy enjoys writing and to her, each sentence has a life of its own. She loves the sound of the keyboard clacking, as well as the scrick of a pencil. In her Express Yourself™ teen radio segment, “The Scribble” Sharanya strives to change how teens look at writing, as writing isn’t just essays, but a vast ocean of new techniques and ideas. She wants to unwrap more methods of writing with other teens, and help writing to be an enjoyable experience for all.



karen kitchell with graduation 2022 - 2 (2)by Karen Kitchel

Graduating from Kindergarten can be one of the first steps to a long journey down the road of kindness.  This was the fifth year as a volunteer at Partnership Academy where I was thrilled to see the expressions of pure joy on these amazing kids and their families.  I’m convinced they will be our future heroes.

Congratulations to all graduates!

Karen Kitchel who penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor.

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Keerthi Eranivan headshot (1)Keerthi Eraniyan, a budding philosopher who embodies the quintessence of everything and anything. She is a 7th grader from San Ramon, California, whose pastimes include debate, math, writing, and singing. Her ruminations involve the gradual extinction of humans, and she can be seen engulfed in an existential crisis. She relishes debate, the fickle thing that blitzes her fingers and propels her through life at the speed of light. In her segment, Nerd Extraordinaire, Keerthi strives to promulgate and publicize the extravagance of forensic debate and fiction writing and exhibit the world beyond plug and chug speech. She desires to introduce the debate world to listeners in a fascinating, magnificent, new way that manifests the air of debate, thick with spontaneous comebacks and the pure thrill of it.

·      Listen to her first broadcast at Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel:


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Both Radio showsBe empowered, motivated, energized, informed and amused.

Truthful, heartfelt, and engaging topics and guests!
LIVE on Wednesdays from 4-5pm PT, be entertained, informed, amused, and educated on StarStyle-Be the Star You Are!. Then be inspired and motivated on

Sundays from 3-4pm PT, it’s Express Yourself! Teen Radio with our Be the Star You Are! star teen hosts and reporters.
VISIT for our line-up of topics and guests.


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Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3

PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556


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