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Starry, Scary Night

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Empowerment
Starry, Scary Night

burned hills in sanders ranch-houses.jpg

“Starry, starry night

Flaming flowers that brightly blaze

Swirling clouds in violet haze.” Don McLean

In 1889, post-impressionist, Vincent Van Gogh, painted one of his most memorable paintings, The Starry Night, as he looked out of his asylum east window. On October 10, 2019, when I looked out our east window, the starry night was aglow with flames and they were not the brightly blaze of flaming flowers. Normally, I look forward to the month October because of the frivolity of Halloween. Costumes, candy, scarecrows, black cats, ghosts, ghouls, jack o ’lanterns, and trick or treating offer children a scary evening of amusement. It was a scary, scary night, but it was not Halloween.

The power was off and a fire erupted racing down the hill to a neighborhood fast asleep. Firefighters were swift and efficient evacuating the community and containing the inferno. Police officers assisted in maintaining peace and safety. Fortunately, all structures were saved and no injuries were incurred, thanks to the professional first responders. Gardens and landscapes survived the blaze with only a few fences being torched. 

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What homeowners need to know to be more fire-safe:

The area where I live in Northern California is rural, wooded, with minimal escape routes. Many of the plants and trees growing throughout our area are highly flammable including pines, cypress, cedar, fir, bamboo, acacia, juniper, Pampas grass, rosemary, ivy, arborvitae, miscanthus, and eucalyptus. Coyote brush, although moderately fire-resistant when it is young and green, is highly combustible as it grows. It depends on fires to regenerate and grows everywhere in our hills.  All of these plants need to be removed or carefully supervised. Since heat moves up, fire speed and severity is stronger on slopes where vegetation management is crucial.

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Autumn is a prime time to prepare your landscaping for the next season and create a defensible space around your property. A defensible space is an area around a structure that has been cleared of ignitable debris and botanicals that may cause a public safety hazard. No plant is fireproof. Under the right conditions, every plant will burn, especially those that are drought-stressed or not maintained.  A “fire-safe” plant means that it tends not to be a significant fuel source in itself with a chemical composition that resists heat and combustion. It is critical to keep plants around our homes well tended and pruned as a fire protection tool. The closer plants are to the house, the more care is needed. Every homeowner is responsible for managing their vegetation to meet Fire District requirements. 

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Neighborhoods are encouraged to form a committee to receive advice from local fire professionals on how to be Fire Wise. Being Fire Wise is dependent on the diligence of everyone in a neighborhood to keep property fire safe. Fires do not honor property lines. All properties become indefensible when one neighbor has overgrown bushes, brush, or low hanging trees.

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What makes flora highly flammable?

  • ϖ Dry and dead leaves, twigs, branches
  • ϖ Abundant, dense foliage
  • ϖ Needles
  • ϖ Low moisture foliage
  • ϖ Peeling, loose bark
  • ϖ Gummy sap
  • ϖ Leathery or aromatic leaves
  • ϖ Content of terpene, oils, or resin
  • ϖ Dry uncut grasses

What makes flora reasonably fire-resistant?

  • ϖ Hardy, slow-growing plants that don’t produce litter or thatch.
  • ϖ Drought tolerant natives with internal high water content. Generally, but not always, California natives are more tolerant of fire and deer.
  • ϖ Trees with thick bark that restrict the growth of invasive shrub species and hardwood trees such as walnut, cherry, maple, and poplar are less flammable. Deciduous trees and shrubs are more fire resistant because they have higher moisture content when in leaf, lower fuel volume when dormant, and usually do not contain flammable oils.
  • ϖ Supple, moist leaves with little to no sap or resin residue.
  • ϖ Low growing ground covers.
  • ϖ Bulbs with dried leaves cut to the ground.

What can you do now to create a more fire-resistant landscape?

  • ϖ Include pavers, bricks, pavement, gravel, rocks, dry creek beds, fountains, ponds, pools, and lawns. 
  • ϖ Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground with a low sap and resin content
  • ϖ Plant the right plant in the correct location. Leave space between plants.
  • ϖ Minimize the inclusion of evergreen trees within thirty feet of structures. Clear the understory. Keep trees twenty feet away from chimneys. 
  • ϖ Remove invasive species or swaths of flammable plants including ivy, rosemary, broom, coyote brush, chamise, and juniper.
  • ϖ Keep mulch moist. Create zones of rock, brick, or gravel. Bark and leaves are not mulches recommended near structures.
  • ϖ Prune trees 6-10 feet above the ground to hinder fire laddering.
  • ϖ Keep appropriate clearance to reduce the threat of burning embers from decorative features such as gazebos, fences, sheds, porches, and junk areas.  
  • ϖ Irrigate and maintain all flora, lawns, and hillsides. Clover, groundcovers, and grasses that are kept low and green are excellent alternatives. 
  • ϖ Due to soil erosion, bare ground is not recommended.
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Having had warning of the looming PGE blackout, I had deeply irrigated my entire garden and hillside. An alert from EBMUD instructed that in a power outage, water must be used judiciously, so as a pre-emptive measure, I watered my landscape thoroughly, soaking the grass, shrubs, mulch, trees, and fences. Throughout the summer, thrice, I had weed-whacked the tall grass surrounding my property and that of neighbors, pruned low hanging tree branches, and a week before the fire I had, thankfully, cut the dry perennials to the ground. These are steps I encourage all homeowners to undertake. Maintaining our landscaping is a never-ending task mandatory for both our pleasure and protection. 

Let’s participate in keeping the fire-breathing dragon away! Enjoy a safe and scary evening of Trick or Treating under the starry skies!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Halloween!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1318/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Scary-scary-night.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. 

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Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

 

cyntha brian with books.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

A Time and a Season

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Empowerment
A Time and a Season

cabernet franc grapes.jpg

 “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

With the power disruptions and fire fears of October in our rearview mirrors, we welcome November with open arms and grateful hearts. It won’t be long before the rains arrive. Driving or walking throughout the region, we witness a marvelous display of fall foliage as leaves on many deciduous trees turn from green to saffron to tangerine to crimson before dropping to the ground. 

Time to fertilize heavily. In autumn, plants quit sending minerals and water to leaves and blooms. The nutrients are instead directed to increase the roots while storing food for the winter months.  We witness the foliage color change to our great delight .

When you fertilize at this time of year, you’ll be feeding your trees, shrubs, plants, and lawns. This dormant feeding is crucial for the success of your garden for the following seasons.  The roots are busy storing nourishment even though the above-ground growth has halted. It’s best to do this heavy feeding after the first rain to assist the fertilizer to go deeper into the ground. The soil is still warm and will soak up the fertilizer. 

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Time to feed lawns. Lawns especially need fertilizing now. The blade growth has slowed, a signal that roots are digging deeper. Gradually start mowing your lawn shorter and fertilize heavily to prepare the grass for the long cold months ahead. There is still time to aerate if your clay soil is compacted. After the first rain is a good time to re-seed grass or install new sod. Make a personal batch of grass patch by mixing a bag of potting soil in a wheelbarrow with enough lawn seed until you see 20 or more seeds per handful. Scratch or till any bare patches, scatter the seed over the fresh soil, rake lightly, water, and wait for the seedlings to sprout. Keep the area damp until grass is established. Do not let it dry out.

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Time to prune dead branches and rake leaves. No plant or tree is fireproof. 

Dead branches, dry leaves, and grasses are highly flammable. Reduce fuel laddering by pruning trees 6-10 feet from the ground and several feet from roofs. A person should be able to walk under a tree without being hit by a branch. Clean out your gutters, eaves, porches, and decks. 

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Time to watch for rodents and skunks. It’s mating season for rodents and skunks. The recent fires have impacted wildlife movement allowing animals to migrate closer to residential development, including a plethora of rats. Vector Control Inspector, Joe Cleope, alerted me about the new procedures and protocols instigated in the district. Many people don’t know that Vector Control is a free service. If you have a question or concern, please visit the website for assistance. https://www.contracostamosquito.com.

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Time to plant garlic. Vampires may not like garlic, but foodies do! Planting just a dozen cloves will yield you a harvest of more than 120 cloves. A bulb has several cloves to break apart before planting in a sunny location in rich, well-drained soil. Put the pointy side up and the flat side down, cover the cloves with a layer of mulch, and they will multiply forming a new bulb. Harvesting will be late summer when the tops have yellowed. You can then tie or braid the stalks or cut the leaves above the bulb. Always save a large bulb for the next year of planting.

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Time to harvest and eat pineapple guavas. Called feijoa, the fruit is self-harvesting. It falls from the tree when ripe, however, you can also pick the fruit. When cut, a fully ripened feijoa will have clear-colored jellied sections. If not ripe, put in a brown paper bag for a few days with an apple. Scoop out the sweet/tart jelly and eat raw or make jams, sauces, glazes, or add to salads. The perfume from the fruit is as delicious as the fruit!

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Time to cut hydrangea blossoms. If you enjoy drying the flowers of hydrangeas, November is a perfect month to do so. If not, once the flowers fade, cut back the stems to encourage new growth.

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Time to plant succulents. Succulents are drought and fire-resistant. Many boast beautiful flowers, unique shapes, and striped striations. Planting a selection in one designated area presents a bigger impact of form, texture, and color.

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Time for final grape harvesting. The crops of grapes have come to season’s end.  If you still have bunches hanging on the vine, take the opportunity to cut them to refrigerate or dehydrate. Use the red-hued leaves in your autumn decorations and place settings.

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Time to give thanks. We all have so much for which to be grateful. As Thanksgiving nears, take time to express your appreciation for the blessings and gifts you have received. Remember the people in your life that have been there for you on all occasions…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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To everything there is a season and now is the time to turn, turn, turn. 

Happy gardening. Happy growing. 

Photos and More: http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1319/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-November-A-time-to-plant-a-time-to-reap.html

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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 www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.StarStyleStore.net

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

leaves in pansies.jpg

 

 

Back to Garden Work!

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Back to Garden Work!

Dragon pond gift from china.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1317/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Back-to-work.html

by Cynthia Brian

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

P.G.E. has informed the community that the power may be shut off for 48 hours at a time due to high gusty winds and dry conditions. Obviously, this doesn’t make me happy because if there is no electricity, there is no internet connection on my computer. Without an internet connection, I can’t submit my articles and photographs to the newspaper.  I’m not one to use my cell phone for my writing or photography assignments, thus, this announcement means that I have to stop my autumnal garden clean-up to write and publish.

The silver lining is that you, my dear readers, will get a jumpstart on your fall chores. Yes, it is time to get back to work in your yard.

The next 30 days are the optimal time to get your landscape prepared for the winter sleep and the spring awakening. Before the rains come, harvest your grapes, take away the trash, tidy up the vegetable patch, clear away the dead stems.  Over-wintering pests and diseases will take refuge in the hideouts of debris left in the garden. Corn stalks must be cut (use them for Halloween decorations). Pick the ripe apples, figs, and Asian pears. Leaves from deciduous and evergreen trees may be raked into the compost pile. Or, if you have space, stack leaves separately to create a rich leaf mold that can be used next season as a valuable ingredient in your potting soil. 

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Most garden projects are best begun in autumn when the soil is still warm with cooler evenings. Create new paths, add a rock garden, terrace a hillside, plant a fern grotto, sow a new lawn. If you have a greenhouse, start bringing frost tender potted plants into the structure. If you don’t have a greenhouse, identify plants that need protection and if they are in containers, move them closer to the house, preferably under an awning. For plants growing in your garden that will be susceptible to winters chill, wrap them in burlap. I am currently covering my bougainvillea and blue flowering Birds of Paradise. 

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With the change of seasons, our houseplants require a bit of TLC. For all of the smaller, moveable plants, bring them outdoors for a final refreshing shower to remove built-up dust. Give them a deep drink on a warm, but not a hot day, and let them dry in the shade before returning them to the house. For large plants such as fiddle leaf fig or philodendron, take a damp cloth and wipe each leaf, top and bottom, as well as the stems. With shorter days, less intense light, and a different indoor atmosphere, our houseplants may suffer. Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist without being soggy. If you want your Christmas cactus to bloom for the holidays, keep it in a cool room without watering so that it can rest. 

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Red flag days will be more common through November as winds kick up and the heat of fall keeps the thermometers rising. If you pruned your begonias and roses in the last few weeks, you’ll enjoy bountiful flowers until the downpours begin. I am truly enamored with begonias, both the tuberous and the wax leaf or fibrous. In some areas, the wax leaf begonia is an annual but in our warmer Mediterranean climate, they are perennial like their sisters, the tuberous begonias. Don’t make the mistake of pulling them out when they die back. Just cut them to the ground to allow them to overwinter and you’ll be rewarded with even a fuller plant next blooming season.

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Cynthia Brian’s “Back to Work” Gardening Guide for October

The chores already discussed need doing before inclement weather begins.

Once we have a deep soaking of life-giving rain, October is one of the best months for planting, seeding, and digging.

  • CREATE meandering borders filled with perennials and shrubs.
  • PLANT trees and bushes as the temperature cools.
  • SCATTER wildflower seeds, especially California poppies and lupines.
  • START a new lawn or re-seed an existing lawn.
  • DEADHEAD annuals.
  • ROOT out any remaining weeds.
  • DIG a pond and add a water feature.
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  • CHOOSE fall planting bulbs that will have different bloom times from early to late spring. Don’t forget muscari (grape hyacinth). This fragrant bulb will multiply, growing in sun or shade.
  • REFRIGERATE hyacinth, crocus, and tulip for six weeks before planting. 
  • SOW cool-season vegetables including turnips, peas, lettuce, rutabagas, kohlrabi, carrots, kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
  • ADD a tropical ambiance with New Guinea impatiens, red-hot poker, and palms.
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  • PROVIDE long-lasting beauty for sunny areas with ornamental grasses, geraniums, and elephant ear.
  • geranium, feather grass, elephant ear.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1317/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Back-to-work.html
  • FIX nitrogen and increase biomass with a cover crop such as mustard, alfalfa, or crimson clover.
  • ENJOY your begonias. Once they start dying back, do not pull them out. They will return more robust next fall. 
  • TAKE pleasure in photos of beautiful gardens, such as those from Butchart Gardens in Canada. See https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1316/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-October-Benvenuto-to-Butchart-Gardens.html
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Our gardens are winding down and so too will we. Get to work finishing your tasks this autumn in anticipation of a restful winter. Life begins again!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

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Photos and More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1317/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Back-to-work.html

One Minute Evacuation: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1317/One-Minute-to-Evacuate-a-personal-perspective-from-the-Oct-10-fire.html

 

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. 

cyn-vineyard-old chevy truck.jpg

Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Butchart Gardens

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Butchart Gardens

Buchart Sunken Garden.jpg

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

O Canada! 

After a hot summer of weeding, pruning, mowing, cleaning, composting, and tidying my plots, traveling to Victoria in British Columbia was a welcome respite. Despite the cold and inclement weather on Vancouver Island, we set out to explore the extraordinary National Historic Site of Canada in Brentwood Bay known as The Butchart Gardens. 

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In 1904, the Butchart family built their home amongst sheltered Tod Inlet surrounded by forests and fields in an area where there were limestone deposits, the perfect conditions for establishing a cement plant. They named the location, “Benvenuto”, meaning “welcome” in Italian.  Mr. Butchart’s first barge-load of cement sailed from the inlet in 1905 for sale to Canadian cities. As rocks were gathered and piled in select locations and soil was brought in by the wagonloads, the quarry soon metamorphosed into the show-stopping sunken gardens. Every site for planting was meticulously chosen and a lake was created from the deepest part of the quarry, fed by a waterfall and stream. 

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Still owned and maintained by the Butchart family, the 55 acres of gardens continue to evolve, expand, and attract.  Over a million visitors a year flock to this oasis of calm and beauty. Today separate gardens include the Rose, Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, and Sunken Garden. Numerous waterscapes abound. There are boat tours at Butchart Cove, fireworks in the evening, restaurants, tea time, and even a Carousel with thirty hand-carved animals that delight children and kids-at-heart alike.

Although I was enamored by the entire landscape, it was the Sunken Garden that captured my imagination. As an avid and very diligent gardener, I can only imagine the amount of labor that was involved in creating a lush and elegant horticultural masterpiece from a rough, grim, grey quarry of jagged rocks. As I meandered around the paths admiring the handiwork of years of devotion from hundreds of talented plant smiths, I was thrilled to see that the gorgeous flowers blooming in the beds and cascading over the stone banks, were plants that I grow in my California garden. Dahlias, roses, begonias, New Guinea impatiens, cannas, camellias, salvias, rhododendrons, geraniums, petunias, hydrangeas, alliums, acanthus, astilbes, arums, snapdragons, zinnias, euphorbias, fuchsias, heliotropes, hostas, lantanas, marigolds, and even an entire swatch of deep green shamrocks, also known as oxalis, blanketed this serene environment. It was such fun to pass a grouping and be able to answer my husband’s constant question: “What is this called?”  

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But one plant truly stumped me. I had never seen it before and although the entrance ticket includes a small flower and plant guide to the most popular species in the garden, I didn’t know what this plant was. Thankfully, The Butchart Gardens has a Plant Identification Center with knowledgeable plant people. I snapped a photo and showed it to the expert. “This is a tropical plant that we will soon put in the greenhouse to overwinter. It’s called a “Popcorn Plant” because it smells like buttered popcorn.” How marvelous to learn something new every day!

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The camellias and rhododendrons were budding but not in bloom and I can only imagine how sensational the grounds must be when they burst into flower. Every season brings new annuals and bulbs. Spring is filled with tulips, crocus, and daffodils reflecting a love for the Netherlands. There are over 900 bedding plant varieties, 26 greenhouses, and 50 full-time gardeners. 

A forest of trees including maples, madrones, dogwoods, magnolias, flowering cherry, weeping sequoias, poplars, beeches, and Golden chain trees anchor the scene. There were two unusual and unique trees encased in a rock-walled garden, the Monkey Puzzle Tree, definitely a conifer, but not one I’d seen before. 

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Wherever I travel, I seek out gardens that will inspire and instruct me to be a better steward of our earth. Butchart Gardens is exquisitely and elegantly designed. With a plethora of water features including streams, lakes, waterfalls, and fountains, I was transported to a place of sheer joy and tranquility. Totem poles, bronzes, statuary, and whimsical moss-covered wire sculptures offer a nod to the artistic value of landscaping. To walk in the footsteps of those who lived a hundred years ago knowing that they lavished love on this land, preserving it for posterity as well as the enjoyment and education of the general public was simultaneously humbling and enlightening. 

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Life was created in a garden. A garden is life unfolding. I returned to my California countryside as October beckons with the changing of the foliage wardrobe and, motivated by my sojourn, immediately got to work with a spark of a new beginning for digging deeper. Although my property will unlikely ever be a Butchart or Giverny, it is my personalized refuge of sweet repose. 

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https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1316/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-October-Benvenuto-to-Butchart-Gardens.html

O Canada, thank you. Benvenuto October. 

Cynthia Brian’s Garden Guide for October

CONTINUE watering your yard. Your plants need the moisture now more than ever.

VISIT a public garden for inspiration and ideas.

REFRIGERATE your spring bulbs for the next six weeks.

RAKE falling leaves to add to your compost pile.

PRUNE fruit trees after the harvest.

FERTILIZE begonias, dahlias, and roses.

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READ a garden book. May I suggest, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store

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TAKE a break. The tough landscaping projects start in two weeks!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and article: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1316/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-October-Benvenuto-to-Butchart-Gardens.html

cuphea(cigar plant), angelonia (blue), begonia.jpg

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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 Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

BE StarYouAre_Millennials to Boomers Cover.jpeg

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

hanging basket, Buchart gardens.jpg

 

cynthia brian

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
cynthia brian

asian pears.jpg

by Cynthia Brian

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” Oscar Wilde

In the fall of my freshman year at UCLA, I began working at one of the very first health food stores ever created in California. It was called Nature’s Health Cove and all the offerings were organic: pesticide, insecticide, and colorant-free. The fruits and vegetables were pathetic looking. Worms bored into apples, the Swiss chard had holes from munching snails, greens boasted fringed tips, a gift from hungry marauding rabbits, tomatoes were cracked, zucchini was malformed. Yet the produce tasted delicious and even though the prices were at least double of anything one could purchase at a grocery store, the crops sold rapidly. One of my tasks was to cull through any severely damaged items, putting them in a bucket for a compost pick up by an urban farmer. 

Having worked in the fruit drying yards and big barn dehydrators growing up on our farm, it dawned on me that usually, half or more of any fruit or vegetable is salvageable. I suggested to the owner that perhaps we could cut out the decaying parts and create healthy drinks and dried snacks with the ripe remainders. The initiative became an instant success with both students and the general public clamoring for a revolving menu of inexpensive tasty treats.

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As summer collapses into fall, my trees and vines are heavy with fruit. As much as I eat and give away, there is still more for the picking. I detest waste and besides canning and freezing the extras, I wanted to create some of the dried fruits of my youth.

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While cleaning out one of our barns this summer, I came upon a vintage portable dehydrator that my Grandfather used eons ago to dry his autumn bounty of pears, apples, figs, and grapes.  I cleaned the appliance and set to work slicing and dicing. 

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The results are phenomenal.

If you’ve bought any dried fruit lately, you know how expensive it is. But if you are like me and enjoy DIY projects, I have a simple recipe for you to create your own personal organic fruit leathers. You can use trays and dry your produce in the sun the way it has been done for centuries, but it takes longer and critters may creep in to steal your sweets. My suggestion is to purchase a small dehydrator with four or five drawers. My dehydrator has four drawers and only a single heat setting. My thermometer says it’s dehydrating at 125 degrees, which is perfect. Every three hours I move the drawers from the bottom to the top.  From start to finish, it takes 24 hours. If you buy a dehydrator with adjustable temperature settings, you’ll be able to dehydrate more rapidly.

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Here’s what to do:

  1. 1. Wash and pat dry your desired fruit and vegetables.
  2. 2. You can peel if you wish, but I don’t. Cutaway any bruised or damaged parts. Cut into slices about ¼ to ½ inch thick.
  3. 3. Some vegetables including eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and radishes need to be blanched for a few minutes. 
  4. 4. Cut the slices in a bowl and toss with lemon juice or apple vinegar to reduce browning. Although this step is optional, it helps in preservation.
  5. 5. Spray the trays with a light spritz of canola or olive oil to prevent sticking.
  6. 6. Place slices of the same fruit or vegetable on dehydrator racks in a single layer without overlapping. Use different trays for different varieties.
  7. 7. Check on the process until when done. Let the racks cool before removing the fruit.
  8. 8. You can enjoy your items immediately but if you want to store your stash, pack the dried fruit in glass jars or sealable plastic bags. Shake jars or bags once day to make sure there is no condensation. If there is any moisture, return the product to the dehydrator for a bit more drying. 
  9. 9. Store in a pantry or room temperature darkened area.
  10. 10. Voila! Your very own dried fruit and leathers.Finished fruit leather.jpg

You can also put the dried fruit in bags and freezer. I’ve experimented with over-ripe bananas, apples, pears, Asian pears, and I even made raisins with chardonnay grapes, seeds, and all. Crunchy! Everything turns out delicious and I know these dried trials are nutritious because except for the bananas, they originate in my organic orchard. My next testing will be to make sweet potato chips from the sweet potatoes I’m growing. I plan to go exotic by drying mangoes, strawberries, pineapple, and papayas. 

Recently we witnessed a rise of what I call the “ugly fruit”. Stores, farmer’s markets, and on-line sites are popularizing the value of imperfect produce. This is a giant step forward in eliminating waste and re-educating our families to value all products provided by nature.  Farmers using organic methods know that crops are not always pretty, but the nutritional value and health benefits outweigh perfection of form. 

ugly fruit.jpg

As summer slowly fades into fall, I wish you abundance and a garden of eating.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide

PRUNE “widow makers”, dead branches on trees. You can identify the dead branches before the leaves fall from the rest of the tree. 

CHECK the crape myrtles in bloom. If you are considering planting a tree or two later in autumn, this is the perfect time to decide what color will be an advantage to your landscape. Crape myrtles are excellent specimens for year-round attractiveness. The leaves will turn red and golden in late autumn, the bark is bare and beautiful in winter, the leaves are shiny green in spring, and the tree blooms midsummer to late fall.

watermelon crape myrtle tree.jpg

REFRIGERATE crocus, tulips, and hyacinths for six weeks before planting.

ADD aged chicken manure to your soil if you are noticing that it is less fertile.

MARK your calendar for a visit to the Be the Star You Are!® non-profit booth at the Moraga Pear and Wine Festival on Saturday, September 28th.  Thanks to our sponsor, The Lamorinda Weekly. Details at https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org/events.

BTSYA Innovate logo -bookend.jpg

DEADHEAD tuberous begonias to keep them blooming until frost. The flowers are edible with a tangy, citrusy flavor.

yellow begonia.jpg

ENJOY the final days of freshly picked tomatoes tossed with basil or cilantro.

tomatoes and cilantro.jpg

HARVEST tangerines, Asian pears, and grapes as they ripen.

GRAPES.jpg

PHOTOGRAPH your deciduous trees as the changing colors emerge. The contrast of colors will amaze you as you reflect on the time-line.

DEHYDRATE extra fruit and vegetables for tasty snacks. Kids especially love these dried sweets.

CUT and compost the damaged parts from “ugly” produce and cook with the rest. 

WASTE NOT! Be a steward of our planet with simple up-cycling.

WELCOME the cool and crisp days of autumn. Fall forward!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

See photos and read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1315/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fall-forward-and-waste-not.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, 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. 

Cynthai-Pink bower vne.jpg

Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. BE StarYouAre_Millennials to Boomers Cover.jpeg

Cynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpgBack cover-Growiung  6 x 6 – Version 3.jpg

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Growing Gratitude! By Cynthia Brian

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Growing Gratitude! By Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian-Thanksgiving bouquet 

“Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.” Henry Ward Beecher
Are you grateful for the simple things in life? This is the perfect time of the year to reflect upon our blessings and gifts. I am so thankful for all of you who read Digging Deep, Gardening with Cynthia Brian. Your interest and questions are always appreciated. Thank you, also, for so many of you who have hired me to help you with your planting needs or garden desires. It’s magnificent to grow with you.
Every day I am very grateful to be a gardener to witness the beauty, bounty, and endless diversity of Mother Nature. Our landscapes are ever changing. What’s here today may not be here tomorrow, nor, the next year. Seeing the cows grazing in the hills, breathing our clean air, enjoying peace, safety, and serenity that only comes from living in this semi-rural environment makes my heart sing with gratitude.
Wild turkeys have moved into Lamorinda territory, immune to the possibility of becoming a holiday main dish! A big Tom waddled across my driveway as two-dozen of his hens toppled and gobbled the berries from the top of my Chinese pistache. As annoying as they can be, I’m happy to co-exist with the wild things. You may want to collect a few of the beautiful turkey feathers as I do to add to your holiday bouquets!
Persimmon trees are bursting with orange tangy fruit, ready for our holiday puddings. Fall is still showing off its brilliant robes of reds, yellows, and gold, yet there is a nip in the air reminding us that winter in a little over a month. Pumpkins and gourds are still a seasonal favorite. Native to North America, pumpkins are a vegetable, not a fruit, genus Cucubita, species pepo or maxima. They are a type of winter squash and the really weird, ugly ones are the most delicious. The blue-green pumpkins you are growing or have purchased are derived from New Zealand. Cook them as their golden-yellow flesh boasts a sweet, mild aromatic flavor. Were you repelled by the warty pumpkins you saw in markets this year? Don’t be! Those ugly growths are actually sugar secretions. The more warty the pumpkin, the smoother, creamier, and sweeter the flesh inside. Make a pumpkin puree for dinner, or a scrumptious pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and you’ll be hooked!
As we soon bid farewell to fall, let us all keep gratitude in our hearts as we look for the fertile joys that sprout with simplicity. Believe something wonderful is about to transpire.
Grow and glow in gratefulness.
Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Garden Reminders

PLANT Woodland Herbaceous Peonies, a separate species of herbaceous peony that thrive in the shade. Naturalizing in a deciduous woodland area with the early spring sun and summer shade, they will grow to 1.5 feet tall and self-seed as a ground cover. . Woodland peonies provide three-season appeal with delicate white flowers in early spring, lush green foliage throughout the growing seasons, and dramatic indigo and scarlet seed pods in the fall. http://peonysenvy.com

LOOKING for a pre-planned garden selection. High Country Gardens offers deer and drought resident plants that have color, texture, and curb appeal. http://www.highcountrygardens.com

PRUNE those thorny creepers, bougainvillea, now to remove old flowers. Cover with burlap if exposed in an area that gets frost.
Tom turkey & Rhododenron
COLLECT turkey feathers to add to bouquets to wreaths for Thanksgiving.
Hachiya persimmons
PICK persimmons. Fuyu persimmons can be eaten like apples but the hachiyas must be mushy ripe before eating.
gourds-pumpkins
PUREE warty pumpkins for the sweetest, smoothest, most delicious pumpkin dish you’ll ever taste. Obviously, don’t puree the skins!

CUT branches from liquid amber or Japanese maple trees to use indoors for a punch of end of fall color.
Pink-yellow hibiscus
PLANT your spring bulbs now through January to enjoy a meadow of continuous flowers next year.
hyrdrangea in fall
PICK up pansies to plant for winter. 2017 has been named The Year of the Pansy.

ADD a cover crop to your garden to fix the nitrogen and make green manure for spring.
Austrian winter pea has delicious edible pee shoots. Other great mulching cover crops include clover, mustard, and vetch.
j-berry-new-social-butterfly
DISCOVER a tree to climb with your kids. It’s that time of year!

CULTIVATE ornamental grasses for low-maintenance and drought tolerate plantings. Maiden hair grass, blonde ambition grass, feather reed grass, and silky thread grass are a few of the lesser known but easily propagated species.

TRAIN rambling and vining plants on a trellis or tall support for a spectacular vertical garden wherever space is lacking.

SOW wildflower seeds that will attract pollinators, hummingbirds, and beneficial bugs.
yellow mums
PRUNE all perennials when finished blooming. Add the stems and spent flowers to the compost pile.

FERTILIZE lawns.

GIVE thanks every day for something. Keeping a gratitude journal alongside your garden guide is a great tool for remembering to be grateful.

Thank you, thank you for being my special gardening gang. I am humbled to be your guide on the side. There is no such thing as a brown thumb, just one that hasn’t turned green yet!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing! Happy Thanksgiving and Turkey Day!

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©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

Color Me Happy! By Cynthia Brian

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Color Me Happy! By Cynthia Brian

“I feel like a warm, red autumn!” Marilyn Monroe

balcony view

My favorite part of a November autumn is looking out from my bedroom balcony to the kaleidoscope of colors dotting the landscape in the valley. Trees are cloaked in hues of magenta, sienna, umber, gold, russet, umber, purple, red, pumpkin, and a variety of greens.  Wherever I walk or drive, the picturesque autumn foliage of Northern California rivals the forests of the Eastern seaboard. We are indeed fortunate to live in a climate that harks four seasons.
pistache-liquid amber colorsFall at Rheem Shopping Center
November of this year brings us an election as well as Thanksgiving.  Since politics is not my favorite subject, I prefer to focus on what needs to be done in our November garden before turkey day.  Autumn is the best time to plant because the soil is still warm and the rains are imminent.  To find trees bursting with colorful leaves, visit your local nursery. Japanese Maple, pistache, liquid amber, crape myrtle, and many fruit trees put on quite a spectacular show this time of year. Buy them now and plant them where they will grow, thrive, and enhance your landscape.

Information on Grass Seed and the Rain
When it rained this past week, I ran outside to plant seeds of my hundred year old plus heirloom hollyhock seeds as well as sunflower seeds. The drizzly weather also posed the most auspicious moment to re-seed my lawn with Pearl’s Premium lawn seed and fertilize with an organic cover. My new grass is already sprouting.  
Pearl's Premium lawn seed
Several emails have arrived asking for more information about my experience with Pearl’s Premium.  I’m not paid to talk or write about this product (although I probably should be on the payroll because I’m so passionate about this seed). Being a believer in one’s right to have a lawn for enjoyment, I’ve been on a mission to find the grass seed that will remain green while using less water.  With my first summer of using Pearl’s Premium behind me, I offer you my personal experimental results.
1. Grass remained somewhat green with brown and bare spots where the irrigation missed the mark.
2. Pearl’s Premium definitely choked out the majority of weeds.
3. I watered twice a week in twelve-minute segments per station using 34% less water over the previous year.
4. The lawn was mowed once a week and grass clippings were left on the lawn at least twice per month to add nutrients.
5. Although not a lush green in the summer, the grass did not die.
6. With just two rainy days, the lawn has emerged as emerald.  I still have a lawn!
fall-crape myrtle-cotoneaster berries
As noted, I am re-seeding my lawns with the expectation that next spring and summer will have even better results as the instructions on the Pearl’s Premium label do indicate that it can take a year for proper establishment. According to Jackson Madnick, the founder of the company, Pearl’s Premium is not sold at retail establishments here in our area so you will need to purchase online at www.PearlsPremium.com.  He is currently installing seven acres of his grass in Palm Desert. The seed is drought tolerant.  As promised, for all of you Lamorinda lawn lovers, I will continue to update you on my experiences. For now, I am happy with my green!
gourds-fallguavas on ground
Cynthia Brian’s November Gardening Guide

⎫ TIME to fall back! Set your clocks back one hour on Sunday, November 6th.  It’s going to be dark in the mornings to be advantageous for early garden chores pre-work day. Bummer!
⎫ HEAL by looking at nature. For over thirty-two years since the journal Science published the study by behavioral scientist Roger Ulrich, we know that just viewing trees and the outdoors enhances wellness and speeds healing.
⎫ GATHER guavas that have fallen to make a jam or other guava treat.
⎫ SOW these vegetable seeds for a bountiful early winter harvest: lettuce, Asian greens spinach, arugula, chard, chicory, kale, radish, cabbage, beets, and cress.
⎫ DONATE to Be the Star You Are!® charity as it ships books to the most devastated areas in Hurricane Matthew’s path in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia. Go to www.BetheStarYouAre.org and click on Operation Hurricane Matthew Disaster Relief.
⎫ FERTILIZE your lawns with an organic mixture and re-seed during the rains. Cover the grass with mulch or screens to keep the birds from eating the seeds.
⎫ SPREAD seeds of hollyhock along fence lines or at the back of your garden as hollyhock can grow to 12 feet or more.
⎫ HELP the birds settle in for the upcoming winter by cleaning nesting boxes and providing plenty of seed to their feeders.
⎫ DECORATE your waterfall, fountain, or front door with a variety of odd shaped pumpkins and gourds.
⎫ COLLECT acorns, leaves, and nuts to add to your festive kitchen or dining room table fall tableau of squash, gourds, and pumpkins.
⎫ COLOR your world by planting bushes that boast fall and winter berries including cotoneaster, holly, and pyracantha. (Pyracantha plants have sharp thorns. Plant in low traffic areas. Pyracantha don’t have berries, but pomes.)
⎫ MULCH by shredding the raked leaves from the deciduous trees adding grass clippings, dried plants stems, and trimmings all which provide water conservation, better drainage, and nutrients to the soil.
⎫ PLANT your spring blooming bulbs now including daffodils, crocus, freesia, ranunculus, hyacinths, Dutch Iris, tulips, and other favorites.  You’ll be able to continue planting bulbs through January. Mark the location with plant tags or wooden paint sticks.
⎫ BUY trees with fall color at your local nursery or garden center including Crape Myrtle, Pistache, Liquid Amber, and Japanese Maple.
⎫ COVER patio furniture and move potted frost tender plants under an overhang or bring indoors.
⎫ ENJOY the warmth and the beauty of this annual autumn fashion extravaganza.
⎫ CAPTURE the moments with your smartphone to compare your garden to next years show! It’s amazing how much our landscapes change.
⎫ VOTE on November 8th. One person does make a difference.
Liquid Amber leaves
Color me happy!
CB at PArkmon Vineyards - 2
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
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©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

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Hauling Harvests and Haunting Halloween By Cynthia Brian

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Hauling Harvests and Haunting Halloween By Cynthia Brian

 

“Tickle it with a hoe and it will laugh into a harvest.” English Saying

October proclaims two main events: harvest and Halloween.
grape harvest by hilary.jpg - 1
It’s been several decades since I’ve worked in our vineyards picking grapes. As a child I drove tractor, plowed fields, and watered the new vineyards vine by vine driving a refitted vintage fire truck with one sibling opening the water valve as we slowly rolled through the rows. Once September and October arrived, the grape harvest began.  Crews of eight workers, including myself, combed every vine with our specially curved knife quickly dropping bunches of ripe berries into the lugs which would be dumped into big bins on the grape trailer. When the truck and trailer had a full load, we’d ride with my Dad to the wineries for the delivery. We all loved being with our Dad hauling the grapes to their wine destination. Although we worked on numerous neighboring farms harvesting, culling, or cutting peaches, apricots, and pears, none of us were fans of the grape picking process. Because of the dearth of available pickers, a couple of years ago my brother invested in a mechanical harvester. This week, on the final night of the cabernet sauvignon harvest, I rode along with my brother and nephew as the huge harvester and four men did the work of six crews with precision and speed. (Instead of picking during the heat of the day, the harvester allows harvesting at night into the early morning hours when it is cooler.) Although we still have several acres that are hand picked, I hollered “hallelujah” to this happy mechanical harvesting experience.

Freddie, Cyn, fred, Harvesting
Lamorinda boasts a rich grape growing precedent with a 130 year-old history. The Lamorinda Wine Growers Association, (www.LamorindaWineGrowers.com) dedicated to sustainable farming and community building, is re-establishing the areas love of the vine and wine along with our pleasant pear past.  Lamorinda is now a recognized wine region with it’s own viticulture appellation thanks to the hard work of the Lamorinda Wine Growers Association. The varietals grown throughout Lafayette, Orinda, and Moraga span the French Bordeaux area with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot to the Rhone regions’ Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Viognier. Burgundy is represented by the Pinot Noir grape and Lamorindans also grow small amounts of Sangiovese and Chardonnay. Because the plots are small, grapes are hand picked. A mechanical harvester has not become a necessary piece of equipment…yet. I’m hoping that 2016 will be heralded as a prime vintage year.
mums ready to bloom
Preparing for Halloween, it’s time to harvest the pumpkins, gourds, and winter squash. If you don’t grow your own, you’ll find funky as well as colorful pumpkins at the local Farmer’s Market and even many of the grocery stores. Apples and Asian pears are still hanging from the trees awaiting their reaper. Find a recipe for making caramel or candied apples to enjoy an old fashioned treat. Cut your corn stalks to use in decorations and buy a hay bale to add to the décor. You can later use the hay to cover your newly planted vegetable patch. The hay mulch will keep most weeds from emerging as the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins begin their rampage.

It’s time to howl at the moon with a glass of Lamorinda produced wine!  Enjoy a grape adventure!
lizard sunning on rock
Mid Month Gardening Tips from Cynthia Brian
The next two months are busy ones in the garden as we prepare our beds for a winter’s sleep. Chrysanthemums will be displaying their full glory soon, a certain beacon of the blazing fall colors to follow.  Get out there and get it done now.

FERTILIZE lawns during the rain for faster absorption. Don’t forget to re-seed during these wet days as well.
PULL any weeds you find in your garden before they develop seed heads.
CREATE a sunflower arch for a festive October wine fest.
PLANT a variety of lettuces in a window box or container kept close to your kitchen to keep your salads fresh all season Clip the micro greens as they sprout for delicate, delicious delights.
REPAIR birdhouses so that overwintering birds such as bluebirds, chickadees, and nuthatches will have a warm, safe, cozy place to rest during the upcoming cold nights.
INCREASE bird feeders in your yard as birds consume more food in fall and winter.
TUNE up your garden by pruning back overgrown shrubs and adding three or five New Zealand flax for their spiky form and variegated colors.
DIG and divide iris rhizomes now. Make sure to keep a few inches of the leaves on the stems and bury the roots two inches deep, eighteen to twenty inches apart.
WATCH the antics of the lizards as they sun themselves on rocks during these final days of warmth.
STOP watering remaining summer crops to force your final produce to ripen.
PRUNE your berry bushes, including summer raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries by removing dead canes. Thin any new forming canes.
AMEND your hard clay soil with large amounts of compost.
MULCH with wood chips to prevent erosion and maintain temperate soil temperatures.
MAKE a beautiful arrangement of fall flowers and foliage snipped from your trees and bushes.
FREEZE or can your vine tomatoes before the rains rot them.
ENROLL in a course on edible gardening, native plants, or composting.
PROPOGATE perennials through root cuttings.
INDULGE in forest bathing…or just take a walk in nature.
SAVE seeds from your favorite annuals, herbs, and vegetables by gathering, drying, labeling, and storing.
HARVEST the remainder of ripe produce before the end of the month-apples, Asian Pears, peppers, Swiss chard.
IMPROVE your health by enjoying grapes, apples, pears, pumpkins, and squash.
ROAST seeds from squash and pumpkins by first cleaning, drying, soaking in salted water, then, baking at 375 degrees until golden brown. What a healthy snack!
TIE dried corn stalks together to add to your front door fall décor.
hosta-coralbells-heuchera
Happy Gardening, Happy Growing, Happy Harvested Halloween!

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Chorisia-pink silk floss tree
©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
StarStyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Awaken in a Healing Garden By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Awaken in a Healing Garden By Cynthia Brian

“Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” ~ Carl Jung
front-porch-with-flowers
We celebrate joyous occasions such as weddings, childbirths, and career moves with flowers. In sadder times or with the death of a loved one, plants and bouquets offer hope to meet the challenges.

Since the beginning of time nature has been the secret weapon of humans to combat dis-ease. From the ancient Chinese with their medicinal herbs, to the Greeks and Romans with their gardens set amongst mineral pools, green has been a sacred color. The Quakers in Colonial America believed that gardens were a place of creativity and relaxation for the body, mind, and spirit. At Philadelphia’s Friends Hospital in 1879 a program to use plants as therapy was established after a physician noticed that his psychiatric patients who worked in the fields were calmer. The gardens were curative.
drying-fennel-seeds
If you are feeling burned out from all the emails in your inbox, a quick boost of energy awaits you with a brisk walk in nature. Scientific studies now back up what gardeners have known forever-spending time outdoors is therapeutic! Since the 1980’s, the Forest Agency of Japan has been encouraging citizens to indulge in what’s called “forest bathing” or shinrin-yoku to lower stress and increase wellbeing. Researchers at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo believe that technological distractions, city noises, pollution, and crowding lead to anxiety and ill health whereas the quiet atmosphere, aromatic smells, fresh clean air, and beautiful surroundings of nature provide relief for heart disease, cancer, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, and other disorders. A University of Michigan study discovered that individuals improved their short-term memory by 20% after a nature walk but those who walked on city streets had no improvement.

Although our Indian summer is in full swing with sometimes three digit daytime temperatures (and the possibility of being the warmest October in our history), the evenings are temperate, perfect for a stroll. The medicine of nature awakens our five senses allowing us to decompress. Bringing the natural world into your indoor environment is equally critical to good health.
hydrangea-close-up
Begin to create your own garden of healing and inspiration by incorporating these simple elements. Dream, awaken, and heal this autumn.

⎫ Make the choice for clean, healthy living. We have the ability to grow our own food no matter how small our living space. For indoor gardening experiment with grow lights or hydroponic measures.
⎫ Plant an herb garden that is easily accessible to your kitchen. Not only do herbs flavor food, herbs are healers. Their natural medicine can be used to increase energy, fight colds, relieve pain, and quiet the mind. Herbs can be grown on windowsills, too. Lavender will help you sleep, peppermint curbs an appetite, rosemary increases cognitive skills, chamomile soothes upset tummies, and basil is a disinfectant.
⎫ Encourage your children to join in garden activities that relate to healthy eating. Gardening lures children away from a sedentary lifestyle while they are learning about biology and nutrition. Let them plant, pick, and plate.
⎫ Minimize the harmful effects of UV rays by enjoying the shade of a tree. According to the University of Purdue, sitting under the umbrella of a tree is the equivalent of slathering yourself with SPF 10. Make sure your property has a tree or two as sun protectors.
⎫ Bring plants to your office to create a healthier happier workspace. Plants have been proven to increase productivity.
⎫ Create boundaries and define personal spaces with plants and hedges. We all need  downtime to rejuvenate.
⎫ To maximize a small space, grow low-maintenance, compact blueberry bushes with multiple herbs and leafy greens in one large container for a continuous harvest. As a bonus, basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, lavender, lemon balm, mint, and other fragrant herbs repel insects.
⎫ Clean, healthy gardening means no pesticides, insecticides, synthetic fertilizers, nor GMO seeds. We want to ensure the health of people, pets, and our planet.
⎫ Take a class or workshop to help you grow your knowledge about living in nature.
⎫ Encourage lizards and bats to take up residence. The western fence lizard carries a protein that destroys the Borrelia bacteria that resides in the stomachs of ticks carrying Lyme disease, and bats eat 6000-8000 mosquitoes nightly. Other pluses are that lizards eat lots of unwanted garden insects and bats are pollinators.
⎫ Install a water feature. Moving water contains high levels of negative ions thought to reduce depression and other anxiety disorders.
⎫ Grow plants that make you happy. If you like lots of color, consider annuals like zinnias and sunflowers. If you like blooming shrubs, hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons are winning choices.
⎫ Include a place to sit and retreat in a private place. Installing a hammock is a rocking way to enjoy the beauty beneath the trees.
⎫ Add a focal point for healing. This could be a sculpture, a rock, or the fountain.
⎫ Stimulate all the senses with scented plants along a walkway for smell, a wind chime under an awning to listen, leaves to taste, textural plants to feel, and birds to watch.
⎫ Attract the pollinators-birds, bees, butterflies, and other insects for their remedial energy. Hang feeders, houses, and water sources, and, of course, add nectar supplying plants including Echinacea, butterfly bush, salvias, dill, and parsley.

asian pearsapples on tree
⎫ Eat an apple a day, hopefully one from your own tree. Apple’s are a super food filled with fiber, antioxidants, and flavanoids. Research suggests prevention or improvement of/from numerous conditions including diabetes, stoke, dementia, obesity, cancer, and heart disease.
⎫ Save the seeds of your best producing flowers and herbs. Drying them and storing them in a dark, cool place is the easiest way, although with tomatoes and some other “juicy” specimens, you will need to access specialized information for seed preserving.
⎫ Prune heart risk by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and grow bones with 30 minutes exercising and weight training in your backyard. You’ll clip calories with the pruning, weeding, lifting, mowing, blowing, and planting.

babys-breath-asian-ornament
Finally, no matter how busy your everyday life is, do some of the garden work yourself. In our neighborhoods, people tend to hire outside help for everything, but if you really want to indulge in the free wellness program designed by Mother Nature, it’s in your best interest to get out there and dig deeply.

Take a cue from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“When I go into my garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.”  
gurgling zen garden
October Garden Thoughts from Cynthia Brian

⎫ MIMIC Mother Nature by scattering wildflower seeds in fall for a spring showcase.
⎫ PRE-COOL tulip bulbs for a minimum of four weeks and preferably ten weeks before planting. Make sure to cool in a refrigerator at 38-45 degrees Fahrenheit without any fruit or vegetables that emit ethylene gas, such as apples.  Other bulbs like to be stored in an area with good air circulation, low humidity, and away from sunlight with temperatures in the 50-7- degree F range.
⎫ DID you know that sunflowers track the sun? Mature sunflowers will tip their heads toward the east warming the flowers more quickly bringing five times the number of pollinators. Save those seeds! (UC Davis study)
⎫ OVER SEED lawns right before the rains come. I am using Pearl’s Premium organic seed and am very happy with the results. Follow directions on the package. www.PearlsPremium.com.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read more
cynthia-in-fern-grotto

©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.  

Autumn Accord By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
Autumn Accord By Cynthia Brian

cyn-0cu

Autumn is the hush before winter. ~French Proverb

Having spent autumns in France, I attribute a portion of this year’s love for fall to my past travel experiences of quiet beauty in the yellowing vineyards, the crisp, cool mornings walking through fields sipping a café au lait, and the warming scents of seasoned firewood burning in evening hearths beckoning me to dine on the produce of the day. Autumn is harvest time here in California with the bounty of grapes, walnuts, apples, and pears ripe and ready. The last bushels of tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peppers, and summer squash are making their way to kitchen tables and to outdoor grills as we all enjoy the final hours of sunshine and patio parties. The days are shortening, the nights are lengthening, leaves are turning amber, umber, and orange as we herald in the hush before winter. Nature is in harmony as gardens begin to settle in for their long winter’s nap.
fall fountain
It’s time to start pondering our spring gardens by rotating crops so as not to deplete the nutrients for a healthy production next season. Cover crops, peas, and legumes are nitrogen fixers. Mix up the heavy feeders such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, brassicas, and corn with root vegetables of beets, onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes.  If you live on a hillside, consider planting fire and drought resistant ice plant as a ground cover. Boasting an array of hues, ice plant will also keep the soil from eroding during the rains. Fall is the best time to scatter wild flower seeds, giving them time to germinate before spring. Mixes that include poppies, bachelor buttons, clarkia, lupine, marigold, aster, penstemon, dianthus, coneflower, and sweet William are available in packets as well as containers. Wild flowers attract pollinators and will keep the hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees buzzing around your property instead of your neighbors.
sunflower close up
Sunflowers have been prolific and extra large this summer. As their heads droop, make sure to collect the seeds both for feeding the birds and also for saving for new towers.

When the weather cools, mosquitoes and other bugs tend to disappear. Enjoy the trickling of your fall fountain as you invite friends over for a final barbecue and outdoor meal as we wave good-bye to the summer sun.

The luster in the sky is a kaleidoscope of brilliance, a forerunner to the quiet before the storm.  Bienvenue d’automne!

Cynthia Brian’s Beginning of Fall Gardening Tips
iceplant
WATCH for aphids on plants, especially mandevilla. Mix 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with water into a spray bottle. Spray affected plants daily. The dishwashing liquid smothers the aphids.

MAKE applesauce or apple butter with the apples that fall from your trees. This year boasts a big crop of apples. You don’t need to peel the apples. Wash, slice away any brown spots, cut into chunks, add to a pot filled with a small of amount of water, boil, then add cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and honey for a delicious, healthy treat alone or with meats, over ice cream, or yogurt.

START to think about cover crops to add maximum benefits to your soil over the winter. Fall mixes can include seeds of legumes, grass, grains, broadleaf, and brassica, vetch, rye, clover, and radish. These will suppress weeds, add aeration, and increase soil aggregation.

PROTECT your heart by eating more leeks, keep diabetes at bay with more Swiss Chard, fight colds with dandelion greens, and build stronger bones with bok choy. Yes, these leafy greens can do all of that! Plant some.

SEND a plant off to college with your student to keep the indoor air clean while offering memory and concentration improvement.  Prayer plants, peace lilies, pothos, and snake plants are just a few of the easy to grow specimens that will acclimate well to dorm rooms.

PLANT shallots in well-amended beds with plenty of compost in full sun.  The greens can be harvested young or wait until they die back to harvest a cluster of shallots.
nonie's grapes - 1
MUNCH on grapes straight from the vines or buy California grapes at your favorite market.

SAVE seeds from your favorite open-pollinated or heirloom tomato plants in Mason jars topped with water.  Cover the jar, but don’t seal. Stir daily until seeds sink to the bottom. Rinse through a sieve and let the seeds dry on a paper towel until thoroughly dry. Fill a small jar with seeds, add a silica gel pack, store in the refrigerator until spring planting. Hybrid seeds will not provide tomatoes true to the mother.

DEADHEAD roses for several more flurries of blooms before January. It is wonderful to have cut flowers from your garden when December rolls along.

OVER-SEED lawns before the cold sets in. Pearl’s Premium is proving to be a drought resistant alternative to regular seed grass. It sets deep 14-20 inch roots and with two seasons of seeding should be hardy and fuller next summer. www.PearlsPremium.com
prayer plant
INCLUDE colorful coleus in both indoor and outdoor fall displays. The leaves are the flowers and the designs and patterns are endless.

SELECT tulip bulbs for November planting. Tulips need to be refrigerated for six weeks.

ATTEND the Pear and Wine Festival at Moraga Commons on Saturday, September 24 from 10-4pm. Pick up complimentary potpourri and a new children’s book from the Be the Star You Are!® booth sponsored by MB Jesse Painting, Starstyle® Productions, llc, Lamorinda Weekly, Children’s Success Unlimited, and Michael VerBrugge Construction. Click on events at www.BetheStarYouAre.org
sweet-potato-plant
Hello Fall! Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!
coleus
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©2016
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com
www.GoddessGardener.com
925-377-STAR
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

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