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Growing Gratitude! By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment
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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Empowerment
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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Empowerment
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!

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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.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for November

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for November

yellow vines in fall

By Cynthia Brian

“The small but intense pleasure of walking through dry leaves and kicking them up as you go…they rustle, they brustle, they crackle.” From Walking through Leaves, Vita Sackville-West

From the last rays of the autumn sun to the glowing embers of winter fires, November is a month of changing colors and softening light creating feasts for our eyes (and our Thanksgiving stomachs) while adding a warm glow to our hearts. The countryside is bathed with leaves turning gold, crimson, russet, and orange. The harvest features a bounty of pumpkins, gourds, and nuts. The crackle of the fallen leaves underfoot, the balmy days, chilly evenings, and misty nights signal the sensational spectacle of autumn. It’s time to put our gardens to bed.
Europe 2010 - 229
For the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a selection of the great chateaus, castles, palaces, and gardens in France and England. Crossed off my bucket list was the romantic landscape of Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent designed by author Vita Sackville-West. It was interesting to note how many of the 22,000 annuals, perennials, and herbs grown in her garden have established themselves nicely here in California.
fallilng leaves in garden
It’s time to plant your bulbs, especially tulips. Having lived in Holland for eighteen months, I truly understand and value the humble tulip. Found in the wilds of central Asia, the first tulip bulbs were planted at Holland’s Hortus Botanicus Leiden in 1593. Tulips were so highly sought after that Dutch growers around Haarlem devoted every minute to hybridization and cultivation resulting in one tulip bulb being so valuable that it could buy an Amsterdam house on the canal or twenty-five acres of prime farmland. Besides cheese, gin, and herring, tulips reigned as kings of exportation. Tulipmania speculation collapsed in 1637 but not before these gorgeous flowers called Rembrandt tulips were depicted on Delft tiles, old master paintings, and historic tapestries. If only a grower had had a crystal ball…
Liquid Amber in Fall - 2
What to do in your November garden

⎫ PLANT your bulbs now through January. By planting a dozen or so bulbs per week, you’ll have a continuous show of color for the spring. Crocus, daffodils, tulips, wood hyacinths, and Dutch iris are favorites.
⎫ THROW two or three matchsticks into each hold before planting bulbs. The sulphur kills insects and enriches the soil.
⎫ FERTILIZE your bulbs with a composition of 4-10-6 right after planting to help grow strong roots. Do not mix fertilizer into the hole. Do not use chicken or horse manure, mushroom, or household compost (could be a breeding ground for fungus), or any acidic soil amendment. Bulbs require soil with neutral PH to develop their root system.
⎫ RESEED lawns with clover or Pearl’s Premium if you want grass without the guilt and the water surcharges. Click Here for tips on planting.
⎫ CLEAN and store patio furniture. With an El Nino in the forecast, covering your outdoor furniture, pads, and pillows will not be enough. Give everything a good brushing, then put in the garage or watertight storage area.
⎫ CALL an arborist to inspect your large limbs and trunks before the storms arrive.
⎫ HARVEST walnuts, gourds, and pumpkins.
⎫ DEADHEAD your roses weekly to maintain blossoms and fragrance throughout November and December.  If you prefer the red and orange colors of fall, allow the rose hips to form and harvest for additional vitamin C.
⎫ STAKE young trees and prune dead or dried limbs from established mature trees.
⎫ STOP by your local nurseries to choose deciduous trees with vibrant fall colors that will suit your landscape. A tree planted on the north side protects gardens from the blustery winter winds.
⎫ TIDY your vegetable garden and potager. Add straw and mulch to enrich the soil over winter.
⎫ SHARPEN garden shears and tools before storing.
⎫ SCATTER ripe seeds of biennials and perennials, such as Foxglove and Echinacea, encouraging new plants in your garden. Hybrid varieties may not grow true from seed offering you a spring surprise.
⎫ PLANT autumn showy ground covers, color spots, and shrubs as they are in their full fall riotous splendor. Heuchera is an especially pretty perennial in its autumn robes offering foliage in a variety of textures, shapes, and colors.
⎫ SOW winter crops of Swiss chard, broccoli, beets, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, peas, turnips, and spinach.
⎫ VISIT a vineyard to witness the golden and amber hues post harvest.
⎫ RAKE a pile of leaves. Let the kids frolic and kick, then add them to your compost pile. (Add the leaves, not the kids!)
⎫ ENJOY the fall foliage! Persimmons, pomegranates, and guava trees showcase their precious fruits. Savor the colors in anticipation of the holiday harvest next month.
⎫ SHARE your gratitude.
heuchera
May you celebrate a healthy, happy, and mouth-watering Thanksgiving with family and friends. Thank you so much for being loyal readers. Your thoughts and opinions are greatly appreciated.

Happy Gardening, Happy Growing!
Europe 2010 - 219
©2015
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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gourds
Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, speaker, coach, and host of the radio show, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasting live every Wednesday from 4-5pm PT on the Voice America Network.. She also is the creator and producer of Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501c3 charity.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for February

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for February
cynthia love large
“To me every hour of the day and night is an unspeakably perfect miracle.”  
                                  ~ Walt Whitman
Despite Valentine’s Day, familial birthdays, and President Day holidays, the second month of the year is notoriously my least favorite on the calendar because of wintery weather. This year, however, sunshine has been the mainstay for weeks and now I find myself preoccupied with the looming drought. A few days ago on the morning of my Mother’s birthday, minutes before she left to celebrate her big day at a luncheon, we were on the phone lamenting the lack of water and the dire forecast for our newly planted vineyards. Two miles from our farm, a laborer’s truck slammed into her at full speed. Her car flipped, hit a tree, and rolled into a ditch. Both vehicles were totaled. It was a miracle that everyone survived the collision with only minor cuts and bruises. At that moment, we rejoiced for the lack of rain else that creek might have been rushing and the outcome of the accident may have differed. Although sore, my Mom was back digging in her garden the next day, despite stitches in her arm and wearing a sling. Life is precious and it’s important to appreciate every second. Rain, shine, freeze, or drought, we are all in the circle of life together. February is our reminder of the importance of uttering “I love you” often. I love you.
  • ⎫ RE-THINK your garden for the year by planning for drought and fire resistant plants. Sage, lavender, ice plant, bulbs, natives, and succulents will add beauty, fragrance, and form with little water.
  • ⎫ REFRAIN from pruning any freeze damaged plants. Wait until all danger has passed, usually the end of March.
  • ⎫ SPRAY fruit trees and roses with a final dose of horticultural oil mixed with water. The oil kills most mites, insect eggs, scale, and insects.
  • ⎫ REMOVE up to 87% of household pollutants by adding houseplants to your interior spaces as air filters. Plants pump life giving oxygen and moisture through their breathing. Consider fuss free Chinese evergreen, sanseviera (aka snake plant), or a desktop sago palm, all tolerant of low light and dry conditions.
  • ⎫ EMBRACE the tangy flavor of kumquats by planting a small tree in a large container by your kitchen. Bright shiny leaves with a citrus fragrance and tiny fruit that taste like a cross between sour limes and tangerines await. Kumquats are an exotic addition to mixed drinks and pies.
  • ⎫ ADMIRE the structure and architecture of your trees, both deciduous and evergreen, surrounding your property. When you get up close and personal, you’ll find beauty in their winter wardrobes.
  • ⎫ VISIT the UC Botanical Gardens in Berkeley, the third largest botanical garden in the United States with its well-labeled collection of over 12,000 taxa covering thirty acres, including many endangered species. Check out the botanical garden from the University of California Berkeley for information on special events.
  • ⎫ CONSERVE water by using gray water to irrigate potted plants. Unless we get rainfall soon, California will initiate mandatory rationing as opposed to the 20% voluntary savings.
  • ⎫ BRIGHTEN the garden with bergenia. Even after a freeze, bergenia shoots up pretty pink blossoms.
  • ⎫ MULCH your garden with at least three inches of organic matter to control temperature, fight erosion, and maintain moisture.
  • ⎫ SHORT on space? Vertical gardening and living walls offer effortless, space saving green environments providing privacy screens, ambiance, and health benefits.
  • ⎫ SHARE your love of nature with someone you admire this Valentine’s. Give a living plant that will remind them of your gift for years to come.
  • ⎫ INVEST in a canvas tote bag or other reusable bag instead of using plastic or paper. You’ll save trees and help eliminate pollution.
  • ⎫ BUY your firewood from local sellers. When you transport firewood from other areas, there may be invasive tree-killing pests hitchhiking on your load.
  • ⎫ WRAP tender plants and trees (especially citrus) with blankets, plastic, or bubble wrap when another freeze or frost threatens. The cold nights are not over yet despite the warmer days.
  • ⎫ INVITE our feathered friends to dinner by filling feeders. Pluck dandelions daily and put on a plate in place frequented by California quail. Your guests will reward your efforts by eating harmful insects.
  • ⎫ PRUNE ornamental grasses to twelve inches to encourage new growth.
  • ⎫ CUT branches of forsythia, quince, flowering pear, and other early blooming shrubs as the buds swell for long lasting interior interest.
  • ⎫ INVESTIGATE the new plants debuting in 2014 such as Ms. Mars sunflower, Candy Stripe verbena, and my personal favorite, the David Austin rose, Royal Jubilee celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • ⎫ PLANT a salad bowl garden with greens you love to eat. A small patch of earth or even two or three containers within easy reach of the house will supply you with snippets of arugula, spinach, Swiss Chard, chives, radish, mustard, mache, and a variety of lettuces.
  • ⎫ PERUSE catalogues for open pollinated, heirloom, or other favorites of seeds, bulbs, flowers, and shrubs. Check out these sites for ideas:
  • ⎫ EAT apples for fresher breath and healthy bodies. Did you know that the French called tomatoes ‘pommes d’amour’ or ‘love apples’ because they were convinced that tomatoes had aphrodisiac properties?
May Cupid find you this February and shoot his arrow your way. Be grateful. Celebrate love. Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
©2014
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Cynthia is available as a speaker and consultant.

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