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February Flora

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
February Flora

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By Cynthia Brian

No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” Booker T. Washington

For the past two months,  I’ve been working on writing a series of children’s books, a bit of prose, a bit of poetry. But with the ubiquitous sunny days and warm temperatures, digging in my garden wins the race. In the past, February has notoriously been a drab and dreary month, but this year it is filled with fabulous flowers, unseasonal sunshine, and idyllic conditions for working outside. My Christmas cactus shines with fluorescent cerise blooms, the blazing blue of the rosemary bush host busy, buzzing bees, the viburnum is covered in masses of sweet-smelling white blossoms, and roses continue to bud and bloom.

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Wood sorrel or oxalis already showcases bursts of buttery yellow flowers. These shamrocks don’t usually appear until St. Patrick’s Day. The purple-tinted flowers of the marvelous magnolia liliiflora, known as the tulip magnolia, suggest that spring may have already sprung.

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It’s mid-February and still no sign of rain. January was considered the driest month on record in California since 1895. Daffodils blanket the roadways and hillsides; ornamental pear trees are in full bloom with peach buds prepared to explode into luminous pink. Back in December when we experienced the atmospheric river and the record-breaking seventeen feet of snowfall in the Sierras, we had high hopes that drought conditions may be receding.. 

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Cynthia Brian’s February Gardening Guide

Here are some tasks to accomplish now.

ü  If you haven’t already, it is time to turn on the sprinklers and give your garden a deep drink. Check the sprinkler heads on lawns as grass tends to grow over them when not in use during the winter months If your irrigation system needs a tune-up, professionals have told me that winter is the ideal occasion to schedule appointments for repairs or installations. In the summer months, when we need to irrigate the most, specialists are swamped with emergencies.

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ü  Water in the morning to give plants the opportunity to dry out before night.

ü  Fertilize trees, shrubs, and ground covers. When it comes to fertilizers, people often wonder what N, P, K mean. N stands for nitrogen which stimulates leaf formation to give plants the luminous, healthy green. P is phosphorus which encourages strong root formation, aids in flowering and fruit set. K is for potassium providing disease resistance and hardiness to plants. The three numbers that you see on labels such as 5-10-15 indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that the product contains. This listing is required by law on all packages of organic, synthetic, and chemical fertilizers. Keep in mind that although nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are necessary to maintain plant health, there are more than twenty other nutrients needed as well. 

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ü  Get a head-start on pulling weeds while they are small, and the ground is malleable. Weeds harbor disease.

ü  Apply snail bait around plants that are susceptible to snails and slugs.

ü  Use an organic systemic insecticide around the base of roses to prevent the first flush of aphids. 

ü  Spray fruit trees, roses, and citrus with dormant oil to protect them from overwintering insects and fungal diseases. Copper Sulfate is approved for organic use and offers a strong defense against fungal pathogens. Be sure to follow all safety and application instructions, as copper is a potent control method, and should be used responsibly. Do not spray on windy days. Wash any citrus before consuming. Harvest tangelos, lemons, oranges, and limes as needed.

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ü  Check for mole and gopher activity. These rodents do not take a winter hiatus. It’s best to trap them before they reproduce.

ü  Complete pruning of roses, grapes, and berry bushes.

ü  Sanitize tools between use. Alcohol, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide solutions are recommended.

ü  Cut small branches of peach or crabapple to force the blooms for an indoor arrangement.

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ü  Plan an edible garden. What vegetables and herbs do you love the most? Find out what varieties are best planted from seed (arugula for instance) and what plants are better purchased in six-packs, quarts, or gallons. (tomatoes, in my opinion).

ü  Dress your garden with fresh mulch or chipped bark to maintain moisture, control temperatures, and minimize weeds.

ü  Add a rock dry creek to an area with run-off. 

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ü  Peruse gardening books and seed catalogs for ideas on what you want to plant. This season I suspect that we will be sowing seeds earlier as the soil warms.

ü  Repot houseplants. Remove dead leaves, add fresh soil, give them a sunshine retreat outdoors for a few hours.

ü  Enhance a corner of your exterior with a wall fountain and colorful potted plants.

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ü  Build a path or walkway that will integrate into the landscape and complement your home.

ü  Get outside to soak up the Vitamin D. Garden, stroll in a park, hike a trail, or walk the reservoir. Pay attention to the natural landscape.

ü  Check out the FREE Seed Bank at Moraga Library. Free vegetable, herbs, flowers, and milkweed seeds are available thanks to the efforts of the Moraga Garden Club, the high school all-girl Boy Scout Troop 401 and middle school Girl Scout Troop 33778. www.moragagardenclub.com

Although California needs increased precipitation, and we must all continue to be diligent in conserving water, I admit that I am enjoying springtime in February immensely. The hills are currently green, cows are munching on the plentiful grass, the air smells fresh, and the creeks are trickling. A bit of the winter bite remains as soon as the sun sets, and the moon rises. It is a lovely time to be outside expressing gratitude for Mother Earth. There is indeed dignity in digging in the dirt, and of course, it is what I write about so that our race will prosper and thrive through nature.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1526/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fabulous-February-flora.html

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

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

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Stars of the Garden

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Stars of the Garden

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“Won’t you come into my garden? I would like my roses to see you.” –Richard Sheridan

It’s only mid-February, yet it feels like spring. As I write this article, the thermometer in the shade reads 71 degrees. The sun is shining, the skies are clear, and it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Historically the average daily temperature in our area for February is 46.4 degrees. I’m accustomed to dreary Februarys, yet this year is full of cheer. Although we still need more rain, I am delighting in this weather as I finish pruning my roses and grapevines.  

Roses are the ultimate garden stars, complementing classic and contemporary landscapes. Many varieties are repeat bloomers, extravagantly fragrant, and easy to maintain. The thorns are a nuisance, yet, sometimes we have to endure a bit of pain to savor the pleasure. As I’m pruning, I’m wearing two pairs of thick gloves. The thorns still pierce the leather and I find myself extracting tiny pieces of barbs with tweezers from my fingers after an afternoon amidst these stellar actors. 

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If you haven’t started or finished your annual heavy pruning, you’ll have about two more weeks to accomplish the task to have blooms by mid-April.  Roses anchor a landscape offering unrivaled diversity of colors, shapes, and sizes. From ten-inch miniature roses to twenty-five-foot rambling and climbing roses, there is a variety for every preference. The scents that emanate from these stunners can be musky, fruity, sweet, and indescribably powerful. In our region, once established, roses will bloom a full ten to eleven months as long as they are regularly deadheaded. Although roses prefer a sunny location, shade and even poor soil are tolerated.

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It’s best to plant roses from January through May and make sure the root has plenty of space to grow. Re-hydrate bare root roses in a bucket of water before planting. If planting from a quart or gallon container, remove the plant carefully. Sprinkle roots with Mycorrhizal Fungi to stimulate root growth. Place the stems of bare root roses about two inches below the top of the hole, and for a potted rose, position the plant level with the ground.  Backfill with the original soil and lightly tap it with your foot. Water deeply. My secret to rose success is to scratch a scoop of alfalfa pellets in the soil around each bush in March. Every morning, I stir my used coffee grounds into a carafe of water to nurture a different rose daily. They love their jolt of java. Feed your roses according to the instructions that you receive when purchasing. Never over-fertilize. Add mulch or compost to retain moisture. Contrary to popular belief, roses are not fussy. Feed, mulch, water, deadhead, and enjoy.

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A shining star of the winter garden is the daffodil. Every year daffodils signal that spring is around the corner as they salute the skies with their bright trumpets. Daffodils belong to the genus Narcissus. The over 50 species come in all sizes with colors ranging from the ubiquitous butter yellow to pure white, peach, and combinations of yellow and orange. They are perennials, popping up to surprise us just when we need a boost of encouragement. Many varieties will naturalize when planted in a sunny place with slightly acidic soil and plenty of mulch. The deer and wildlife won’t eat them, so they are great bulbs to plant everywhere the deer and rabbits roam. Bulbs planted in fall are now blooming. There is no need to remove the bulb after the flowers fade. Cut back the stems when the foliage is yellow and potato chip crispy. If you insist on digging out bulbs, wipe the dirt off, store in onion bags or pantyhose, and hang in a cool location. Bulbs require air circulation to survive or they will rot. Many of the smaller daffodils, also called narcissi are very fragrant. They make marvelous cut bouquets brightening any room.

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The heart-shaped cyclamen is a tuberous perennial that is honored with garden star status. Shades of pink, red, salmon, and white flowers with silver-marbled leaves adorn winter borders and indoor rooms. Cyclamen require almost zero care and very little water. They go dormant when temperatures rise towards summer and return in glory when winter arrives. When grown outdoors, like the daffodil, when you are least expecting to see a riot of color, the cyclamen unfurls its pretty petals. Hardy cyclamen sold in nurseries are to be planted outdoors. Tropical cyclamen for décor as a houseplant won’t tolerate temperatures above 68 degrees or below 40 degrees. 

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Our shining garden stars may only twinkle during certain times of the year, yet they are always here. Planting and appreciating them helps us grow into kinder humans. Saunter into the garden to say hello.

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Cynthia Brian’s Mid-Month Gardening Guide for February

  • TAKE 15% off all orders of David Austin Roses before March 6, 2020 with CODE UKA at www.DavidAustinRoses.com or call 1-800-328-8893.
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  • CARE for your trees. With the recent heavy winds, limbs and trees have toppled. Make sure to prune dead branches, mulch to suppress weeds and pest infestations, deep soak when the weather is hot, and protect shallow roots from lawnmowers. Call an arborist for help when in doubt.
  • INSPECT lawns for dandelions. When you see the yellow flower, snip it off to avoid the flower going to seed. Dig out the roots if possible but be aware that dandelions have long taproots. Do not put in the compost pile.
  • CHECK irrigation systems for broken or damaged pipes. Weeds and lawns often cover sprinkler heads. This is a good time to prepare and repair for spring.
  • WATER lawns and gardens as needed. This is the first February in decades that I’ve had to turn on sprinklers. Rain is not forecast until March. Global warming? 
  • CUT a branch from flowering pear or peach trees to use as an indoor decoration. Pear trees are in full-bloom, peaches are in bud.
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  • PLANT summer bulbs including gladiolus, cannas, dahlia, and caladium towards the end of the month as the soil dries.
  • WALK barefoot on a blanket of soft moss to connect with Nature.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing!

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1326/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Stars-of-the-garden.html

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

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Buy copies of her best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Work Out Smiles, Barbie, Classy, February Garden Love

Posted by Editor on
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Empowerment
Work Out Smiles, Barbie, Classy, February Garden Love

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with Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® Radio brought to the airwaves under the auspices of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 charity, LIVE, since 1998.

This hour is fun, informative, and lively. Join us!

New scientific findings show that once you get into your exercise “happy zone” you can unlock multiple benefits beyond just a great sweat. Happier workout will equal not just healthier you, but amazing physical results. Smile and work out with Heather Brittany.

Barbie gets a new body! The Goddess Gals talk about the effects the Barbie doll has had on female image.

What is class and do you have it? if you are calm under pressure and know how to rein in your temper, you are classy. If you take the high road consistently, you are classy. Cynthia Brian offers more ways to rise above mediocre and shine.

Love is in the air! Every February we are reminded about the importance of amour in every day living. Cynthia Brian walks us through February gardens to share the care for growing.

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The award winning positive talk radio program, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® broadcasts on the Voice America Empowerment Channel LIVE every Wednesday from 4-5pm Pt/7-8pm ET.  Cynthia Brian and Heather Brittany are the Mother/Daughter dynamic duo who have been co-hosting this program live weekly since 1998 bringing upbeat, life enhancing conversation to the world. With Cynthia’s expertise in interviewing the trailblazers, authors, and experts and Heather’s healthy living segments, these Goddess Gals are your personal growth coaches helping you to jumpstart your life while igniting your flame of greatness. Brought to the airwaves under the auspices of the literacy and positive media charity, Be the Star You Are!®, each program will pump your energy to help you live, love, laugh, learn, and lead.
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