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FireScaping for Survival

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Empowerment
FireScaping for Survival

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https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.html

“Some say the world will end in fire.” Robert Frost

A running crown fire came rolling down the hillside toward our Lake County mountain cabin, moving faster than any human could run. All exits were blocked. Trees vaporized.  Sixteen civilians trapped in the valley were being gathered in the meadow around our house. This acre of lush green grass would be the safety zone, everyone’s last hope of survival. Ninety firefighters had been spread out along the roads, trails, and hillsides in the fire’s path. Their orders were to stay put until the fire was upon them, then to light a backfire and escape to our meadow.

The energy released was a hundred times that of a normal forest fire, with an explosive force nearing the intensity of a small atomic bomb. Everyone prayed. My sister and her husband said their goodbyes. Death seemed seconds away. Besides being a farmer, our Dad had been Captain of our volunteer fire department for forty-six years. Dad built the safety zone.  “Daddy,” my sister prayed, “please don’t let us die like this.”

Then, almost imperceptibly, the roar began to diminish. The fire continued to rage for fourteen days in nearby canyons, ultimately burning over eighty-two thousand acres. At the time, it was the second-worst firestorm in United States history, the subject of national training videos for firefighters and showcased on an episode of the TV series, 20/20. 

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I chronicled this epic true story in my book, Be the Star You Are!® 99 Gifts for Living, Loving, Laughing, and Learning to Make a Difference. The chapter is appropriately titled The Gift of Survival. (First Editions available from http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store). 

When a town called Paradise is transformed into burning hell incinerating everything in its path within twenty-four hours and becoming the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California and United States history, it is prudent for Lamorindans to make fire safety a priority.

A few months ago readers reached out to me asking if I would write an article on how to landscape with fire prevention in mind. They had contacted  their local Fire Chief to find out how to become a Fire Wise neighborhood. Being fire wise is dependent on everyone in a neighborhood being diligent about keeping their property fire safe because fires do not honor property lines. If one home’s landscape is pristine and the neighbor next door has overgrown bushes, brush, or low hanging trees, all of the properties become indefensible.

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The area where I live is rural, wooded, and has 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. Heat moves up and many homes are on hills. Fire speed and severity is stronger on slopes where vegetation management is crucial.

Just as there is no such thing as a deer-proof plant, a fire-proof plant is a myth. Under the right conditions, every plant will burn. Referring to a plant as “fire safe” means that it tends not to be a significant fuel source by itself. Some plants chemical compositions resist heat and combustion. It is critical to keep plants around our homes well maintained and pruned as a fire protection tool. The closer plants are to the house, the more care is needed. 

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Firescaping is simply a landscape design that reduces house and property vulnerability to wildfire. While enhancing the beauty of the property, we surround the house with plants that are less likely to ignite and create a defensible space. 

Characteristics of Highly Flammable Flora

  • 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 High resin, terpene, or oil content
  • ϖ High, uncut or dry grasses

Characteristics of Fire-Resistant Flora

  • ϖ Hardy, slow growing plants that don’t produce litter or thatch
  • ϖ Native plants that are drought tolerant with internal high water content. Generally, California natives are more tolerant of deer and fire. 

(see Nature’s Natives: April 17, 2019, https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1304/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-April-Natures-Natives.html)

  • 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 generally more fire resistant because they have a 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.bright pink tulips.jpg

How to Create a Fire-Resistant Landscape:

  • ϖ Include fire-resistant features such as pavers, bricks, pavement, gravel, rocks, mulch, dry creek beds, fountains, ponds, pools, and lawns. Water features including ponds, streams, and pools can be helpful fuel breaks.
  • dry creek rierbed.jpg
  • ϖ Select high moisture plants that grow close to the ground with a low sap and resin content. (See an included list of plants, shrubs, and trees)
  • ϖ Maintain all plants and lawns. Clover, groundcovers, and grasses that are kept low and green through irrigation are excellent alternatives. Mow, prune, water, and space appropriately.
  • ϖ Leave space between plants.
  • ϖ Minimize the inclusion of evergreen trees within thirty feet of structures. Clear debris and understory. Have clearance of all trees within twenty feet of chimneys. 
  • ϖ Remove invasive species or swaths of flammable plants including ivy, rosemary, broom, and juniper.
  • ϖ Moist mulch, rocks, or gravel can be used for firescaping. (Bark and leaf mulch can ignite unless sufficiently wet. Usage not recommended near structures.)
  • ϖ When planting trees, identify the tree size at maturity. 
  • ϖ Prune trees carefully to remove the possibility of fire laddering.
  • ϖ Arrange plantings in clusters and islands, with those near structure being smaller. 
  • ϖ Consider the combustibility of decorative features such as gazebos, fences, sheds, porches, and junk areas.  Keep appropriate clearance to reduce the threat of burning embers.
  • ϖ Bare ground is not recommended due to soil erosion.
  • Lawn .jpg

General Rules of Fire Safety

HEED the checklist from our local fire departments to create a defensible space around your home.  To reiterate fire district recommendations:

  • ϖ Prevent embers from igniting your home by clearing leaves, needles, and debris from gutters, eaves, porches, and decks.
  • ϖ Mow grasses and weeds.
  • ϖ Keep your garden watered.
  • ϖ Prune tree limbs to keep the lowest branches 6-10 feet from the ground.
  • ϖ Reduce “fire fuel laddering” by not allowing bushes or trees to touch one another.
  • ϖ Keep combustible materials 15-30 feet away from structures.
  • ϖ Maintain your property and be alert for any fire danger.

Through proper plant selection, placement, and maintenance, we are able to diminish the possibility of ignition, lower fire intensity, and reduce the spread, helping our homes to survive the blaze.  A fire-resistant landscape reduces the risk to our homes while enabling firefighters a place to defend our structures.

Helpful Websites:

National Fire Protection Association: https://www.nfpa.org

Fire Safe Marin (We are not in Marin, but this is a great resource): http://www.firesafemarin.org

Pacific Northwest Fire Resistant Plants: http://www.firefree.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Fire-Resistant-Plants.pdf

University of California Cooperative Extension: https://ucanr.edu/sites/fire/Prepare/Landscaping/Plant_choice/

Las Pilitas Nursery (although this nursery is in Santa Margarita it has the best website that gives burn times for various plants. Plus it also has deer resistant information as well.)https://www.laspilitas.com/easy/deerfire.htm

Sign Up for Alerts:

Alerts for Your Specific Area: http://www.nixle.com

 

Sample Listing of Plants that are Fire-Resistant

(I reiterate, NO PLANT is fire-proof. Maintenance, pruning, watering, spacing, location are all extremely important elements for fire safety.)

Bulbs (tulips, daffodils, iris, hyacinth, freesia, etc. Cut stalks to the ground when leaves are dry)

California redbud

Sage

Penstemon

Heather

Fuchsia

Columbine

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Thyme

Poppy

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Wild strawberry

Common yarrow

French lavender

Lilac

lilac begins to bloom.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.html

Coreopsis

Ajuga

California lilac

Society garlic

Alliums

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Dianthus

Yellow or Purple ice plant

Creeping phlox

Lamium

Sedum

Succulents

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Veronica

Armeria

Agapanthus

Trumpet Vine

Daylily

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Heuchera

Hosta

Red hot poker

Lupine

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Delphinium

Echinacea

Lamb’s ear

Yucca

Roses

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Salvia

Evening primrose

Daphne

Boxwood

Rhododendron

Spirea

Dogwood

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Mock orange

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Azalea

Current

Viburnum

Horse chestnut

Liquid Amber

Honey locust

Crabapple

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Purple robe locust

Fruit trees (varieties of cherry, plum, pear, peach, apricot)

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Black oak

Hawthorne

Birch

Aspen

Poplar

Maple

Manzanita (prune without dead wood)

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Walnut 

Harry Houdini wrote, “Fire has always been and seemingly, will always remain, the most terrible of the elements.”  Use your common sense. If you need additional help, consult a professional. Contact your fire department for a Fire Wise walk.

Fires are in our future. Hopefully, we won’t require a green meadow safety zone for survival, yet we need to be prepared. Make firescaping an ongoing conversation. 

In the meantime, get out to weed, water, prune, and maintain. Do what you can to be fire safe.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

See photos and read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1305/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-May-FireScaping.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 Are1® 501 c3. 

Cynthia Brian-Fire Garden Hat.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. 

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Donate to Fire Disaster Relief via Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 at www.BethestarYouAre.org

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Nature’s Natives

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Nature’s Natives

California poppy.jpghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1304/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-April-Natures-Natives.html

by Cynthia Brian

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

Witnessed from outer space this spring, a pageant of splendor burst into bloom on hillsides, in fields, chaparrals, and desert environs. The “super blooms” of Southern California captivated hearts and cameras. Northern California is exhibiting a bountiful season of blue lupines, orange poppies, and gardens filled with flowers, just not to the degree of our neighbors to the south.

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Although weeds are described as plants growing where we don’t want them, weeds are in proliferation after our continual wet days. Wild cut leaf geranium resembles a ground cover when small with tiny pink petals, yet it is a weed that needs to be pulled before it scatters seeds. Hand removal of invasive grasses is also necessary as they create fire danger while outcompeting native flora for light, water, space, and food.

 

More than 18,000 plant species are native to the United States and approximately 6000 species are endemic to California. To be considered a true California native, the plants must have grown here before the late 18th century when the Europeans arrived. Our state flower, the California poppy, as well as lupines, fuchsias, and other “natives” were actually first cultivated in the gardens of Europe, yet we have adopted them as our own. We are blessed to grow numerous flora inhabitants from the Mediterranean that have acclimated to our mild four seasons and adapted to our clay soil. I have termed these friends, such as lavender and acanthus, “the new natives” as I like to include them in my garden designs. 

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Natives are drought tolerant after they have been established, although they will require water if the weather has been exceptionally dry. They are wildlife attractors bringing songbirds, lizards, salamanders, butterflies, frogs, hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators into the landscape.  Minimal maintenance is required without dependence on pesticides or fertilizers. Top dressing all plants with mulch to maintain a constant temperature while reducing erosion and temperature fluctuations is advantageous.

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For year-round interest, select a variety of natives that bloom during each of the twelve months. Wildflowers are fussy as transplants therefore for a spring show, sow seeds in the fall to allow the winter water to promote a strong root system. Plants with tiny seeds can live dormant in the underground seed bank for 80 years or more depending on the optimum conditions to coax them above ground to flower, fruit, and set seed. 

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A Sampling of Favorite California Natives 

Trees, Grasses 

Oak 

Western Red Bud

Redwood

Sequoia

Pine

Cypress

Cedar

Fir

Yew

Willow

Alder

Aspen

Sycamore

Blue-eyed grass

Sedges

Rushes

Fescue

Reed grass

Wild Rye

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Shrubs, Plants, Flowers

Manzanita

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Ceanothus (California Lilac)

Sage

Currant

Fern

Lupine

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Columbine

California poppy

Heuchera

Dicentra

Brodiaeas

Blue Dicks

Morning glory

Clarkia

Wild rose

Wild grape

Clematis

Wood Strawberry

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Matilija Fried Egg Plant

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Native Perennials to the United States

Milkweed

Echinacea

Black-eyed Susan

Butterfly Weed

Aster

Creeping Phlox

Bee Balm

Bluebells

Lobelia

Hydrangea

Acanthus

Gaillardia

Trillium

Coreopsis

Bluestar Grass

Honeysuckle

Switchgrass

Blazing Star 

Dogwood

Iris

Gaura

Trumpet vine

Elderberry

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These are just a few of the thousands of natives you can discover at your nursery. A large variety of succulents and cacti are also available. It is important to remember that every plant is native to someplace. When choosing a species, you want to make sure it will grow well in your microclimate.

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Because natives have adapted to our land, they won’t struggle for survival. They are strong players requiring less work, water, and food as they work in harmony with our ecosystem. Natives are an advantageous addition to any garden as they support bees, butterflies, and birds, bringing beneficial insects and pollinators to our landscapes.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide

BEWARE the tick. Ticks are attacking and they are not just on the deer. Keep your lawns mowed and the brush cleared.  Rid your yard of Japanese barberry as this invasive species is a haven for ticks. 

KEEP deer from nibbling your new sprouts by installing a nine to twelve-foot deer fence. Unfortunately, all of the natural remedies including soap, hair, sprinklers, whirlybirds, lights, and noise are not effective long term. 

RE-POT orchids in spring if they are root bound or the planting medium has broken down. Most orchids need to be repotted every two to three years. If you notice green root tips on plump white roots, it is time to divide. Re-pot in lightly packed fir bark or sphagnum moss using a container large enough to allow for two more years of growth.

DIMINISH spring allergies by always removing your shoes before entering your home.  Change your clothes, shower before bedtime to keep the pollen from gathering on your sheets. Ramp up your house cleaning efforts by dusting, vacuuming, and mopping often.

SHARPEN lawnmower blades for a cleaner cut. Stay off the grass if it has been raining as walking on wet grass damages the blades and the roots.

SNIP the flowers off bolting arugula, kale, lettuces, and other leafy vegetables to prevent the plants from going to seed. Add the flowers to salads, soups, and sauces or decorate your plates.

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MARK your calendars: 

April 21 is Easter. Fill baskets for garden lovers with my book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener available with extra freebies at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store April 22 is Earth Day

April 28 is the Annual Wildlife Festival at Wagner Ranch www.fwrna.org/annual-wildlife-festival.html

May 11 is the Moraga Community Faire. Visit the Be the Star You Are!® booth to celebrate nature, books, and kids.www.bethestarBTSYA volunteers Moraga Fair-Cyn (1).jpg

 

Wishing you a hippity hoppity happy Bunny Day on Easter!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing,

Read more and see photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1304/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-for-April-Natures-Natives.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 Are1® 501 c3. 

cynthua Brian-tulip tree-lemons.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.jpg

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

 

Mother Knows Best

Posted by Editor on
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Empowerment
Mother Knows Best

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My mother said to me,

“If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general;

if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope. 

Instead, I became a painter & wound up as Picasso.”

~Pablo Picasso

Aren’t Moms the greatest? 

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a world-famous ball bouncer because I thought I was fairly great at bouncing balls and catching them. My mother told me to go for it. 

Then, of course, I added to my “want to be” numerous times while both of my parents applauded my bravado. My hands were either always writing or digging in the dirt and I wound up as The Goddess Gardener!

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When I lived in France I had the opportunity to investigate the majestic gardens of the charming chateaus. The elegant gardens mesmerized me, especially Château de Chenonceau spanning the River Cher in the Loire Valley where females ruled the designs. But it was the gardens of Impressionist artist Monet that influenced me most. The first time I visited his Giverny masterpiece, a profusion of magenta, pink, and purple tulips augmented by white bearded iris greeted me. It reminded me of my time living in the Netherlands where fields of tulips thrived amongst the windmills. The color scheme was enchanting.

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After returning stateside, I determined to model my landscapes after Monet’s painter’s palette with plants that only reflected a variety of shades and hues of purple, pink, blue, and white. My Mother warned against such folly. “Gardens are filled with the colors of the rainbow. Just wait. Mother Nature will decide what’s best for your garden.” 

 

Of course,cynthia brian-books-events.jpg I didn’t listen because I had my mind set on a specific plan. I planted a variety of species that boasted my favorite colors including iris, gazania, lilac, wisteria, tulip, anemone, periwinkle, jasmine, ice plant, freesia, candytuft, azalea, camellia, fuchsia, rose, rhododendron, and more. For the first two years, my landscape did resemble an Impressionist painting. It was spectacular. azaleas.jpg

Then a seventeen-day freeze occurred killing most of my plantings. When spring arrived, many of the plants sprouted once again but this time they were yellow, orange, white, or red. The hybrids had reverted to their native colors after the freeze. Mother Nature was teaching me who was in charge.

I embraced my Mother’s approach to gardening to allow all the colors of the rainbow to shine in my garden. Soon the burgundy grew next to the orange gazania, and yellow daffodils sang along with the fluorescent pink ice plant. The effect has been stunning.

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My Mom also warned against invasive plants that mask as attractive: ivy, mint, Mexican primrose, vinca, jasmine, and the worst of which is Euphorbia esula, also known as leafy spurge.  All of these grow in my garden and I am constantly pulling, prodding, and attempting to keep these handsome, yet insidious species in check. 

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Although lovely mixed with flowers cascading from a container, in the ground, ivy climbs and chokes trees, killing them. Ivy is also a favorite habitat for rats. Mint is delicious muddled in mojitos and chopped into salads, but not so exciting when it spreads to your lawn. Mexican primrose with its dainty pretty pink flowers spreads quickly jumping into spaces where other plants are preferred. It looks dreadful when it develops powdery mildew towards fall. Vinca major (big leaf periwinkle) may take years to become invasive but with conditions of deep shade, it can smother the diversity of other plants with its very dense vegetation. Cut it back or pull out the stragglers. Jasmine has the most beautiful fragrance, especially in the evening. A few cut blossoms perfumes entire rooms, however, this vine twines around bushes and flora smothering the entire plant. It is critical to contain these plants and keep them in check by pruning and pulling out the ones growing in places you don’t desire.

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Which leads me to the worst invasive in my landscape––euphorbia esula, commonly known as green spurge or leafy spurge. A single pot of euphorbia is charming with its magnetic chartreuse leaves and yellowish green bracts. The problem begins when the seed capsules explode sending seeds fifteen or more feet in the distance. If allowed in bare soil, the complex root system spreads rapidly both horizontally and vertically for many yards. In spring the plants grow three or four feet high, blocking sunlight, stealing the water and nutrients from other plants. Toxins in Euphorbia esula prevent other plants to thrive. Deer and rabbits won’t eat it, although goats and sheep tolerate it. The milky sap is a skin irritant to humans. If left unchecked, this invader will take over hills, dales, and neighborhoods.  The striking euphorbia esula encompasses a hillside, yet I am not willing to let trespassers into my formal beds. Daily I patrol and pull out the intruders. 

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A cavalcade of color delights me in my spring garden. Currently boasting beautiful blooms are bergenia, lavender, ranunculus, Dutch iris, bearded iris, rose, forget-me-not, daffodil, tulip, calla lily, California poppy, snowball, snowdrop, blue star, geranium, calendula, citronella, hyacinth, ice plant, wisteria, lilac, snapdragon, cyclamen, oleander, Jupiter’s beard, azalea, fuchsia, breath of heaven, camellia, hellebore, nasturtium, sweet alyssum, osteospermum, cornflag, clematis, mock orange, petunia, wood hyacinth, alpine strawberry, fava beans, and a plethora of other splendid multicolored species.

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My gardener Mom was right about being inclusive with garden color and watchful for the expansion of invasive vigorous vegetation. It is always good to have a guide on the side. Mother Nature will always have the final say.

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I recently visited my daughter to help with her landscaping needs. When I asked her what she wanted me to plant, she responded, “Mom, you always know best!” 

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A Mother ‘s Gardening Guide for May from Cynthia Brian 

  • WARNING! Don’t buy Euphorbia esula no matter how much it captivates you, as it is not containable. 
  • BUY your Mother the perfect garden gift for Mother’s Day, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and receive a plethora of extra goodies that she’ll love. Visit http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store
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  • EMPTY standing water from any receptacle as mosquitoes are breeding including birdbaths and animal water bowls. Check rain gutters and storm drains. Stock ponds with mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) which are free from vector control,
  • WEED while the soil is still moist, digging up the roots. The smaller the weed, the easier it is to pull out. Don’t allow the plant to go to seed.
  • REPLENISH mulch as it decomposes. Mulch deprives weeds and seeds of sunlight while enriching the soil. Add three inches to beds and keep a few inches away from tree trunks.
  • FERTILIZE roses with alfalfa meal to add acid to the soil. 
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  • PREVENT ants from protecting aphids around bushes and trees by using sticky barriers.
  • LEAVE grass clippings on lawns to provide nutrients and don’t mow when the lawn is wet.
  • VISIT the Be the Star You Are! booth at the Moraga Faire to pick up complimentary potpourri to celebrate Mother’s Day and buy raffle tickets for the opportunity to go to an A’s batting practice to meet the players. http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org/events
  • PATROL for invasive species and eradicate them from your yard.
  • ATTRACT beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden by planting swaths of aster calendula, California poppy, fennel, and Queen Anne’s lace.
  • fennel-palm.jpg
  • PREPARE your vegetable garden. Check your local nursery to buy edibles you enjoy, specifically tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.
  • PLANT color spots of petunia, begonia, cosmos, and marigolds.

Wishing every Mother a month of peace, joy, health, and love. Thank you for being and knowing best!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1205/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-guide-for-May-Mother-Nature-knows-best.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.amaryllis afternoon.jpg

 

Cynthia Brian

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 Are1® 501 c3. 

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

Buy a copy of the new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Available for hire for projects and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Weed, Feed, Seed

Posted by Editor on
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Empowerment
Weed, Feed, Seed

dandelions.com.jpg

“Nothing is so beautiful as spring when weeds, in wheels, shoot long, and lovely, and lush…” Gerard Manley Hopkins

While cleaning out our parent’s ranch home I found a book published in 1918 belonging to my grandfather. The title is The Herbalist by Joseph E. Meyer, 1878-1950.  The cover showcased a line drawing of an apothecary’s garden. The first page warns in big bold letters “Special Attention: The botanical materials, medications, and recipes of this book are not intended to replace the services of physicians.”

Being the major gardener and herbalist that I am, I was thrilled to discover this tiny tome filled with information that is pertinent over a hundred years after publication to those of us who love to grow our own food. After reading about the anatomy of plants, the epitome of botany, and the medicinal uses of plants, I excitedly went into the garden to find weeds to feed me. Then of course, it was time to throw seeds to beautify what will become my late spring landscape.

Since the rain and hail we experienced in March, weeds are ubiquitous. Before seeding, weeding is essential. If you like to be adventurous while consuming a nutritional boost, separate the dandelions from other discarded weeds. Dandelions originated in Greece and have been enjoyed as greens in salads or sautés for centuries. Dandelions provide calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, E. riboflavin, and iron. The dried root is a beneficial home remedy as a diuretic plus dandelions inhibit inflammation.  Consider adding this food to your menu.

After a thorough weeding, it’s time to seed the garden with beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables. Always choose quality seeds. Plant seeds in the correct light situations. Refer to seed packets for information when the most auspicious planting window is and where the plants will thrive. Make sure to prepare the soil properly by weeding and composting or buy good soil.

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When planting indoors, choose a south or west-facing window to provide adequate light and warmth. Natural light is always best for helping seeds to sprout but you can always purchase grow lamps. Fluorescent tubes will work when placed two to four inches above the seedlings and left on for eighteen hours per day. If you are planting on a porch, be mindful of frosty evenings where you’ll need to provide heat.  Speed seed germination with a heat mat that you place under trays or containers and remove the heat mat once the seeds have sprouted.

A container for planting seeds can be anything that is at least two-three inches deep with a drainage hole. You can use milk cartons, cell packs, recycled plastic, or clay pots. Even old coffee mugs can be re-purposed as long as you add gravel to the bottom.  Get creative, re-purpose, and re-cycle.  

Keep the soil moist but not soggy. When a plant has two sets of leaves it’s time to feed them with a half-strength fertilizer and get them to sunny locations outdoors as often as possible.

I prefer to sow directly in the ground and have experimented with seeding as early as March. However, my experience has instructed me to spread seeds when the soil is warm in late April, thinning as necessary. Follow instructions on seed packets for best results. Keep in mind that you will not have 100% germination. Sow an amount of seeds that is several times the amount you wish for best results. For small seeds like arugula and greens, I carefully scatter attempting not to have the seeds clumped in one area. All plants need room to spread. For plants growing in cells or trays, I usually transplant in May and have found that these plants tend to do better than those that were planted in early spring. Planting in sets of odd numbers, three, five, seven, nine, or more provides a cohesiveness and richness of texture.

Growing a beautiful garden from seeds is easy and inexpensive. You may have to provide netting to keep hungry birds, roaming rabbits, and ravenous deer out of your yard. 

Spring is a time to weed, seed, and feed, both metaphorically and literally. I love experimenting in my garden and hope that a hundred years from now my books will be as relevant to readers as The Herbalist is.

Seeds to start indoors or in a greenhouse:

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cauliflower

Eggplants

Peppers

Tomatoes

Perennial Flowers

Seeds to sow in containers or directly in the garden:

Arugula

Basil

Beans

Beets 

Carrots

Cilantro

Corn

Cucumbers

Greens

Herbs

Kale

Melons

Nasturtiums

Parsley

Parsnips

Peas

Penstemon

Radishes

Spinach

Swiss Chard

Squash

Sunflowers

Zinnias

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for April

  • CONTROL snails with organic treatments. You can hand pick them, put out bowls of beer, add copper tape to ornamentals, throw egg shells in affected areas, or scatter Sluggo. Eliminate watering at night when snails feed. They multiply and flourish in the wet and damp. In dry weather they will retract into their shells sealing off the opening with mucus. Snails can be dormant for four years.
  • RAKE lawns to remove debris and aerate. If fertilizer is needed, this is the time to apply.
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  • DON’T eat the mushrooms growing in your yard unless you are certain they are edible. Consult a mycologist as many mushrooms are toxic and potentially fatal if ingested.mushroons growing in garden (1).jpg
  • VISIT Wildlife Earth Day at Wagner Ranch in Orinda on Sunday, April 22 from 11:30-4pm. Several community organizations will also present earth-friendly endeavors. I will be autographing my newest book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener as well as talking about botanicals.  For more information on this nature-lover’s event organized by the naturalist guru, Toris Jaeger, visit https://fwrna.org/wildlifefest/
  • PLANT agastache, columbine, penstemon, salvia, and trumpet vine to attract hummingbirds. When the threat of frost is finished, hibiscus, bougainvillea, and citrus can planted. 
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  • BUY discounted tickets to the June 15th Oakland A’s versus Los Angeles Angeles Baseball Game with a portion of proceeds benefitting the 501 c3 charity, Be the Star You Are® http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org or go find your seats to buy directly at https://groupmatics.events/event/Bestar
  • EAT your dandelions for a wealth of nutritional and medicinal benefits. And Italian proverb instructs ““He who wants to eat a good supper should eat a weed of every kind.”
  • WALK in the woods, a park or hug a tree to get your dose of forest bathing known as the Japanese tradition of shinrin-yoku.
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  • SAVOR springtime. It’s the bugle baby for beauty, fragrance, and new life.cynthia brian.jpg

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1203/Cynthia-Brians-April-Gardening-Guide-Weed-seed-feed.html

Cynthia Brian

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 Are1® 501 c3. 

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

Buy a copy of the new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Available for hire for projects and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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The Language of Trees

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Empowerment
The Language of Trees

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“The ax forgets, the tree remembers.” African Proverb

Do trees have feelings? Do they communicate with one another? As I watch the leaves unfurl and the blossoms bursting on the trees in my landscape, I have a sense that my trees are talking and communing with one another. With the celebration of Earth Day on the horizon, this was an opportune moment to research the language of trees.

At the insistence of his wife, German forester, Peter Wohleben, authored an accidental best seller, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate. The two of them live in a cabin in the remote village of Hummel where Peter manages a nature reserve.  He has become a spokesman of sorts for protecting and respecting the rights of trees.

Although trees don’t form words as humans do, they do communicate, and are more alert, sophisticated, and social that we expected. Trees form alliances with other trees of both their own species and others to survive and thrive.  They connect via underground fungal mycorrhizal networks, a symbiotic relationship between tree roots and fungi. As they scavenge for nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients, the fungi consume thirty percent of the sugar photosynthesized from sunlight then feed the trees. This fungal internet of thin threads known as mycelium also can also transport toxins to keep competing plants from establishing nearby. Eucalyptus and sycamore commonly exhibit this behavior. Biologists have termed fungi to tree communication the “wood wide web” showcasing how interconnected and interdependent nature is.

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Using pheromones and scent signals, trees also talk through the air. Research was done several years ago with acacias on the savannas of Africa. When giraffes began chewing on the leaves of the thorny acacia, the tree sensed the wound sending a distress signal in the form of ethylene gas to neighboring acacias. The trees receiving the message of imminent danger pumped quantities of tannins into their leaves, which can kill an herbivore.

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Trees differentiate between an animal attack and a human cutting a limb. When a branch breaks or is sawed off, the tree sends chemicals to heal the wound. And trees remember.

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Trees also have a sense of smell and taste. When  an elm or pine is attacked by leaf-eating caterpillars, the affected trees detect the saliva. Pheromones are released to attract parasitic wasps. The wasps lay eggs inside the caterpillars, and the wasp larvae eat the caterpillars from the inside out. 

Dr. Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist with the University of British Columbia is renowned for her extensive scientific research into mycorrhizal networks and “hub trees” or “mother trees” as she prefers to call the biggest, oldest forest trees. Mother trees are not necessarily female but they do have the most fungal connections to nurture and support the saplings.  Their deep roots suck up water and send it to fellow trees along with other nutrients and distress warnings. Her lab studies found that defense signals traveled between a diversity of trees within six hours. Not all scientists agree with Simard and Wohleben that trees are sentient beings. Several scientists have countered that plants and trees do not possess intelligence and are instead genetically programmed by natural selection to do a job automatically. 

Being the nature aficionado that I am, I vote for team Simard and Wohleben. Over the past few years I’ve been carefully studying my hillside pine trees as they twist to be closer to each other. Although each tree was originally planted to give a wide berth for each canopy to grow straight and tall in an effort to reach optimum sunlight, as the trees matured they tended to gravitate towards one another, mingling their branches. The pine that was planted furthest away from its siblings actually lurched sideways forming an arch until its branches touched the closest pine. I can’t help but think that this small group considers itself a forest family or at least very dear friends. When my “mother” Japanese maples leafs out, the other two develop their leaves within two days. My fruit trees of the same species always bloom together as if on orchestral cue. The willows in the creek appear to be supporting the oaks and bays with a communal sharing of resources.

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Simard detects a spiritual expression in the forest and Wohleben has been accused of being a tree hugger, although he states that he doesn’t believe trees respond to human hugs. We do know for certain that trees provide beauty while cleaning the air, combating climate change, and absorbing CO2. They provide oxygen, keep us cool, prevent erosion, supply us with food, offer playtime for kids, and help us heal faster. Trees furnish us with wood for homes, furniture, and warmth while allowing wildlife to flourish and reside in their branches.  An area without trees feels arid, vulnerable, and ugly. 

Trees are our allies and they are definitely talking to us. Clear cutting and climate change will kill our trees and our forests. We need to plant trees to capture carbon and encourage kids of all ages to climb big trees. We need to acknowledge that global warming is real and that our trees are desperately warning us of the disasters to come if we don’t create a movement for change. We need to listen to our vegetation as their memories are living, long, and lasting. 

We are all one interdependent, interconnected community. Stop. Look. Listen. Learn the language of trees and celebrate Earth Day with me. 

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide for April

  • VISIT Wildlife Earth Day at Wagner Ranch in Orinda on Sunday, April 22 from 11:30-4pm. Several community organizations will also present earth-friendly endeavors. I will be autographing my newest book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener as well as talking about trees, flowers, and other botanicals.  For more information on this nature-lover’s event organized by the naturalist guru, Toris Jaeger, visit https://fwrna.org/wildlifefest/, https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1204/Red-legged-frogs-and-friendly-goats-welcome-visitors-to-Wagner-Ranch-Wildlife-Festival.html
  • ENJOY the lilacs and wisteria in full bloom.
  • WATCH the leaves unfurl on your deciduous trees and become more aware of how different species of trees support one another. 
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  • REMOVE old foliage around the new growth of perennials.
  • PREVENT disease and rotting by keeping mulch several inches away from stems of plants and shrubs.
  • CREATE a habitat for birds that prefer staying close to the ground by making a small pile of twigs and clippings in your side yard. You’ll attract white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos. 
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  • ADD a clean birdhouse to your landscape for bird to make their nests. You’ll be the beneficiary of joyful tweets and twerps. 
  • UTILIZE the monthly gardening tips in the book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener available with free seeds, herbs, and more from http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store.
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  • FERTILIZE fruit trees with a high nitrogen organic fertilizer. Best time is right before the bud break, although trees that need food can be fertilized through June. Don’t fertilize in summer or fall.
  • PICK tulips for indoor vases.
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  • BUY discounted baseball tickets to the June 15th Oakland A’s versus Los Angeles Angels directly at https://groupmatics.events/event/Bestar with a portion of proceeds benefitting the 501 c3 charity, Be the Star You Are® http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org 
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  • SCATTER pollinator friendly wild flower seeds to celebrate Earth Day.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1204/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-The-language-of-trees.html

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Cynthia Brian

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 Are1® 501 c3. 

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

Buy a copy of the new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Available for hire for projects and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Sow Spring

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Empowerment
Sow Spring

 

freezias succulents.jpgBy Cynthia Brian

“All through the long winter I dream of my garden. On the first warm day of Spring I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.” Helen Hayes

My cell rang as I juggled to open the front door, arms filled with books. I pressed the speaker button and in the few seconds it took me to say “hello” my daughter’s excited voice chimed, “Mom, I hear the frogs singing. It’s springtime!”

As winter bids farewell, the male troubadours “de printemps”, fill the early evening mist with their mating croaks to entice the females. Their call is joyous, raucous, and a welcome harbinger of new life. My garden has erupted in a cavalcade of color as one blossom after another unfurls its beauty. Cherries, chestnut, plum, crabapple, Asian pear, Western red bud, and tulip magnolia are magnificent with their new wardrobes of rose, white, pink, and purple. The feathery fronds of fennel glisten in the sunlight. The fragrance of freesia, narcissi, and stock perfume the atmosphere. Periwinkle, also known as vinca, enhances garden beds with its tiny blue flowers. Even my roses are blooming earlier than normal. Hellebores, more commonly called Lenten roses, inject the earthy colors of browns and grays into the landscape. As their spring sepals emerge, vibrant hues of purple, green, blue, lavender, red, and pink brighten shady gardens, eventually fading in color variation. It seems that all of nature has been holding its breath until the frogs returned cueing the melodic symphony of nature.

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On the first seventy-degree weather day, I was outside in my bikini and shorts digging in the dirt.  Thickets of weeds sprouted after the recent rains. The good news is that they are easy to pull with the dampness of the soil.  If you planted cover crops, it is time to turn them under. Once weeds are eradicated, rake the ground before scattering seeds. I’m a fan of California poppies, not only for their shimmering range of sherbet colors, but also because they tolerate extremes in weather, are resistant to deer munchies, and reseed easily. Even the recent hailstorm won’t adversely affect poppies. As soon as you can work the ground, sow seeds directly into well-drained beds and plant in full sun. Even if the weather is cool, poppies can handle light frost, so sow now!  If you haven’t amended your soil with compost, you may need to fertilize.  Keep the soil moist then thin seedlings to about six inches apart to allow for the plants to flourish.

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Sow Spring Seeds

For a succession of blooms, scatter seeds from any of your favorite annuals. These plants are pollinator attractors, enjoy plentiful sunshine, and most are excellent as cut flowers.

Alyssum

Aster

Baby Blue Eyes

Baby’s Breath

Bachelor Buttons

Black Eyed Susan

Bluebell

Calendula

Candytuft

Cornflower

Clarkia

Coreopsis

Cosmos

Forget-Me-Not

Gaillardia

Hollyhock

Lavatara

Marigold

Poppy

Stock

Strawflower

Sunflower

Zinnia

My preferred time to spread seeds is right before a shower. Keep an eye on the forthcoming weather and plan accordingly. The rain will give your seeds a deep drink and you won’t have to water immediately.

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Grab your hat, gloves, a spade, and packets of seeds to enjoy the renaissance of nature. Dig your fingers into the soft earth and watch your spirits soar. As the renowned horticulturist, author, artist, and garden designer, Gertrude Jekyll wrote, “The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies.”  Be reborn this spring.

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

  • PLANT rhubarb for a pretty perennial that will supply you with plenty of ruby red stalks for pies and tarts this summer. Cut off and discard all rhubarb leaves as they contain poisonous oxalic acid.
  • INVEST in roots of asparagus. Asparagus can take up to five years to produce spears but will continue to offer a bountiful harvest for twenty years. Experiment with Purple Passion (purple is the color of the year!) for a sweet, tender, and mild flavor.
  • PULL weeds as soon as you see them sprout while the ground is still moist.
  • CHOP down cover crops and hoe into the soil.
  • FERTILIZE lawns to give them a good boost of nitrogen and nutrients for the forthcoming season.
  • PICK established kale and other greens before they go to seed.
  • CHECK irrigation system for breaks or leaks.
  • BUILD raised beds for your vegetables and herbs. Your back will thank you throughout the year,.
  • ADD fresh compost to all garden beds.
  • SEED or re-seed lawns. I recommend Pearl’s Premium for its durability, deep roots, and need for minimal water. http://www.PearlsPremium.com.
  • PRUNE privets into hedges and bushes unless you want tall trees.
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  • LOOSEN compacted soil by turning amendments into the soil with a garden fork.
  • CLIP boxwoods and shape as needed.
  • HARVEST beets that were planted in fall.
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  • BUY discounted tickets to the June 15th Oakland A’s versus Los Angeles Angeles Baseball Game with a portion of proceeds benefitting the 501 c3 charity, Be the Star You Are® http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org
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  • START seeds of tomatoes indoors or a in a greenhouse.
  • CONTINUE to pick up all fallen camellia blossoms until there are none left on your bush or tree. My tree had thousands of blooms this year. My daily regimen includes collecting at least 100 or more spent blooms.
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  • CHECK the weather forecasts to know when it’s going to sprinkle or rain. It’s best to sow and fertilize at this time.
  • SUPPORT eco-therapy and walk in the woods. Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku has been scientifically proven to improve our immune systems.
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  • FOR more spring landscaping tips, buy Growing with the Goddess Gardener, www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.

Read more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1202/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Sow-spring.html

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Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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 Are1® 501 c3. 

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

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

cynthia-hat n garden.jpg

 

 

March On and Spring Forward

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Empowerment
March On and Spring Forward

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“Truth is rarely written in ink. It lives in nature.” Martin H. Fischer

It all started with a box of toothpicks.

My siblings and I finally had the heart and the stamina to begin cleaning out our Mother’s farmhouse that was built before 1900. We made the mandatory four piles––garbage, donation, share, and keep as we meticulously emptied and cleaned each drawer and cabinet. When we came upon several brand new boxes of toothpicks, we kept a few and shared the rest.

When I returned home, I opened my drawer where I kept my toothpicks to discover that I already had six boxes of 500 picks. Horrified, I emptied that drawer; created four piles, and what began as a simple task of putting away a small box of toothpicks resulted in a full day of purging and organizing.

Which gets me to our garden marching orders for the month. It is time to clean out the potting shack, clear the storage sheds, organize the garage, and tidy up our cluttered gardens. Prune the hedges, edge the lawn, sharpen tools, wash the lawn mower blades, and pull the sprouting weeds.

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Spring forward by cleaning our houses and removing the debris from our gardens.

There is something about the pre-spring season that revs up our systems and begs us to dust off the old to make way for the new. We yearn to get rid of the mess that has been gathering. My storage area was filled with odd pieces of wire, broken light fixtures, string lights, patio pads, tiki torches, oil, glass, lawn seed, fertilizer, soil mixes, Christmas tree stands, old toys from kids long gone, punctured hoses, and a multitude of under utilized machines and gadgets geared to make gardening simpler but in reality were just too burdensome. It took me a full seven days to bring order to the chaos.

As overwhelming as this project sounds, the best way to start is to just start!

Don’t be paralyzed by the enormity of the task. Do it bit by bit but take everything out of the spaces you are going to clean. Don’t try to “wipe” around anything. Everything out! Once the space is empty, sweep it, mop it, brush out the cobwebs, and disinfect it. Next, designate four areas for de-cluttering: Keep, Donate, Trash, Recycle/Sell. You will be amazed at how much junk you have. Anything you are keeping, donating, giving away, or selling must be cleaned. Dump the trash unless you have chemicals, insecticides, pesticides, paints, or contaminates. Take those items to a special facility for disposal. Contact your garbage collection agency for drop off locations. Box your donations and donate immediately lest you be tempted to reclaim items. Do the same with your recyclables or sale items. Organize what’s left to store in a manner that is easily and safely accessible.

Walk around your garden and really look at your landscape. What needs a tune up? Are the hinges on your gate squeaking?  Do you have broken fence slats? Do your hedges need a haircut? When was the last time you painted or stained your deck? Is it time for a patio power wash?

Pick up the dog bones, clean out the litter boxes, and get a storage container for all of the unused children’s or pet toys. Check your irrigation system. Turn on the sprinklers to determine if you have any broken heads or pipes. What about your nightscaping? Do you have bulbs that are burned out? Are the batteries run down on your solar lights?

Your front entrance and sidewalk are the first greeting areas for yourself and guests. Give your porch a thorough cleaning and sweeping. Add a blooming plant in a pretty container. Buy a new “Welcome” mat. Polish the hardware on your door.

After weeding your flowerbeds, add a fresh layer of mulch not only to beautify your landscape, but also to retain moisture and keep the soil temperatures constant while deterring erosion. Turn the compost pile.

As you march around your yard you’ll discover a plethora of chores that are begging for your attention. Make a list, check it twice or three times, and get to the most important items first.

Garden Happenings

The bare branches of the trees tell us that it is still winter, but the buzzing of the bees coupled with the sweet melodies of songbirds indicate that spring is right around the corner.

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My garden seems to have awakened from its slumber a full month early. Until the last few days of the month, February had been bone dry and exceptionally sunny forcing numerous plants to bloom early. Daffodils and narcissi have been blooming for two months and will continue for another two. The Italian white peach that normally forecasts a St. Patrick’s Day celebration burst into full bloom on Valentine’s Day. My shamrocks, also known as oxalis, are in their cheery yellow glory. Colorful freesias, tulips, Dutch iris, calla lilies, and hyacinths announce the stirrings of spring.

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The precipitation was welcome news, but the cold front that accompanied the rain dropping temperatures into the twenties caused tender plants to freeze. The morning after the first frigid night, the shriveled shapes of lamium, sage, and nasturtium greeted me on my daily meditation walk. Part of tidying the garden is to understand what to prune back and what to leave until all danger of frost has past. The sage and lamium are best cut immediately, while the pruning of the nasturtium will wait until later in the month.

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Viburnum, with its tiny white flowers, does well in cold weather and accentuates the beauty of a four-season garden.

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If you properly pruned your roses towards the end of January or beginning of February, you will see that they are now sprouting leaves. Within a month, buds will open. A few of my David Austen roses are already blooming.

David austin -Olivia Rose Austin (Ausmixture) 15A3982.jpgI am still planting bare root roses. World renowned rosarian, Michael Marriott joined me on my radio broadcast on March 7th . Get more information at https://www.starstyleradio.com/starstyle-radio. Michael discussed the latest trends and techniques in cultivating a beautiful rose garden.  Tune in at https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/105598/david-austin-roses-with-michael-marriott-and-jungle-jauntMicahel Marriott-cynthia brian, David Austin Roses 2.jpg My Mother used to instruct us with the words “cleanliness is next to Godliness”.  That truth wasn’t written in ink, but it did help me toss that extra box of toothpicks. I know for certain that everything looks so much better and more attractive when it’s clean and clutter-free.

Live in truth. Live in nature.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

  • BRING branches of forsythia or quince inside to allow the blooms to open in a vase.
  • PICK up fallen camellias.
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  • FERTILIZE the entire garden, if possible right before it rains.
  • BUY discounted tickets to the A’s versus Angels baseball game for June 15 with proceeds benefitting local charity, Be the Star You Are!®. www.BetheStarYouAre.org/events
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  • HARVEST wild mustard for salads and soups. Delicious and nutritious.
  • DIG up beets and make sure to eat the tops.
  • COME to LaGaelrinda event at St. Mary’s College between 9-1pm on March 17th  to visit the Be the Star You Are!® booth where I’ll be selling and autographing my newest book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener. Buy it online at www.CynthiaBrian.com/on-line store and get FREE seeds, potpourri and other goodies.
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  • WANT an instant privacy screen in your yard? For immediate large hedges, a new product will ship this spring from a company called Instant Hedge offering thirteen varieties of ready-to-plant hedges that have been growing for five years with heights up to six feet. Inspired by plantscapes in Holland, the panel of four trees with dense foliage will ship in a biodegradable cardboard box. Visit http://instanthedge.com.
  • POT a clump of oxalis shamrocks for your St Patrick’s Day dinner.

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Read more at : https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1201/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-Guide-for-March.html

Wishing you the luck of the Irish and the wind at your back. March on and spring forward!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

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 Are1® 501 c3. 

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

Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, is available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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And the Winner Is

Posted by Editor on
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Empowerment
And the Winner Is

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“People are always in good company when they are doing what they really enjoy.”

~Samuel Butler

In the first three months of the year, we get to be bystanders at numerous red carpet events!  Hello awards season!  The Golden Globes, People’s Choice, Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Grammy’s, and the Oscars are all highlights. Add the Olympics to this year’s line-up and we have a full roster of gold, silver, and bronze. Over the years I’ve been privileged to enjoy my share of walking the red carpet in the entertainment industry and in the plant world, we have our winners, too.

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The Perennial Plant Association Plant awarded Allium Millenium the plant of the year. It boasts glossy green leaves with a profusion of large, rosy-purple clusters of flowers that bloom in mid-summer. As a butterfly magnet, alliums are beautiful as well as being deer and rabbit resistant. The Perennial Plant of the Year program showcases outstanding perennials that grow in a variety of climates, are disease free, and are low maintenance.  A few of the past winners over the years have included lavender, which deer and rabbits won’t eat as well as Dianthus, Phlox, Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Echinacea, Salvia, Catmint, Sage, and Coreopsis.

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The National Garden Bureau also designates award winners annually. For 2018, the winning bulb is the Tulip, the vegetable is the Beet, the perennial is the Coreopsis, and the star of containers and hanging baskets is the Calibrachoa. Calibrachoa_CallieBurgundy_Syngenta.jpg

With the unusually warm weather we’ve experienced this February, gardens have exploded into blooms more than a month earlier than in previous years. With the slightest breeze, the sky rains white petals from pear and plum trees while hillsides and paths are lined with dancing daffodils.

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The vivid, paint-box colors of tulips are filling our souls with joy. Part of the lily family and relatives of alliums, tulips comprises 150 species with over 3,000 varieties. Although we plant them in fall after four to six weeks of cooling for spring sprouting, they can be forced to bloom in winter. People often ask me why tulip bulbs need to be refrigerated before planting. The answer is that in their native habitats where winters are colder, they would go dormant allowing for the bulbs to sprout roots while the development of the embryonic leaves and flowers inside the bulb occur. I lived in Holland for eighteen months where “tulpen” were the pride of every household, even tough tulips originated in Asia. Did you know that the Netherlands produce most of the world’s annual tulip crop exceeding four billion bulbs annually?  Tulip mania  (tulpenmanie) reached its crescendo in 1637 when the bubble collapsed, and overnight, many rich traders became paupers. One bulb could buy a house on the Amsterdam canal. Folly! According to the Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center, the United States is the biggest importer of Dutch bulbs to the tune of $130,000,000 in wholesale prices annually. The colors of the tulip have significant meaning: red equals love, purple represents loyalty, and white whispers, “I’m sorry!”

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The winning edible of the year is the beet and I am so thrilled as this is probably my favorite of all of the root vegetables. I planted my seeds directly in the soil last spring and am still harvesting. When I thin, I eat the seedlings. Beets like acidic soil and they withstand cooler temperatures before harvest. Colors are typically red, purple, yellow, or red with white ring stripes. They are consumed in salads, soups, and pickled.  Rich in fiber, potassium, calcium, folic acid, and phosphorus, high in fiber, vitamin A and C, beets have more iron than most other vegetables. The red color comes from the antioxidant betalain, an excellent source of color pigment for natural dyes and coloring agents.

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The beauty, resilience, and popularity of Coreopsis was a natural fit for the National Garden Bureau to add this glorious flower to its red carpet line-up.  In the language of flowers, Coreopsis means “always cheerful,” and these delightful natives of the Americas live up to this designation. Equally, at home in naturalized prairie settings or manicured landscapes, Coreopsis provides a lovely sunny presence wherever they make their home. Although typically seen in colors of yellow and gold, many species also contain red, bronze and burgundy colors and have been commonly used as dyes in native fabrics. Before the introduction of coffee to America, Native Americans boiled the flowers into a warming tea.

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The newest star in the garden line up is Calibrachoa, with its twenty-eight different varieties. A relative of the petunia, (although now recognized as it’s own genus) Calibrachoa hit the marketplace arriving from Brazil via Japan via Europe in the 1980’s but were considered difficult to cultivate. They are beautiful plants that do well in containers and hanging baskets and this specialized treatment has turned out to be their niche market. They aren’t really mini petunias, yet they are drought tolerant. Plant in well-drained acidic soil and provide six hours of direct sunlight per day. You will be rewarded with brilliant colors, fascinating streaks and stripes, eye-catching stars, and patterns that resemble the strokes of a brush. Your patio will be a floral artwork with Calibrachoa in the honored line-up.

With all of these award winners, my supreme favorite still lies with the exquisite lotus flowers that I enjoyed in Southeast Asia. The deep, rich colors, their versatile expressions, I am deeply, madly in love with lotus.  Alas, I can’t grow it here in my backyard pond.

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Speaking of winners, gigantic congratulations to Sal and Susan Captain of Captain Vineyards for being honored as the Moraga Business Persons of the Year! I am personally thrilled to see two stewards of the earth, farmers, gardeners, wine makers, and all around great individuals inducted into this hall of fame. Bravo!

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Savor a respite in your landscape for the next few weeks before I offer you a plethora of chores that need attention. Enjoy your own company.

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Keep doing what you love and you’ll be a winner too. Roll out the red carpet for your favorite plants and get ready for a rowdy and rousing spring. camellias.jpg

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Read at Lamorinda Weekly: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1126/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-And-the-winner-is.htmlCynthia Brian's Growing with the Goddess Gardener book.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 Are1® 501 c3. 

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

Her new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, is available at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Growing with the Goddess Gardener

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Growing with the Goddess Gardener

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Cynthia Brian’s Newest Garden Book is Published!

Just in time to banish the the winter blues, Cynthia Brian’s first book in the Garden Shorts Series,  Growing with The Goddess Gardener,will enchant, inspire, and motivate you to get up off the couch, power down your gadgets, and go outside to smell the roses or dance in the rain. Tap into your inner green thumb and order your autographed copy today!   

PURCHASE DIRECT

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25% of proceeds from Growing with the Goddess Gardener benefit the 501 c3 charity, Be the Star You Are! empowering women, families, and youth through increased literacy and positive media messages. www.BetheStarYouAre.org

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About Cynthia Brian

Cynthia Brian, a New York Times best selling author, grew up on a farm in Northern California where she drove tractor, raised chickens, and worked in the fields to finance her college education. Known as The Goddess Gardener, Cynthia is a TV/Radio personality, newspaper columnist, lecturer, lifestyle coach, and Executive Director of the 501 (c) (3) literacy charity, Be the Star You Are!®. When she’s not writing, performing, or coaching, you’ll find her in her garden with her menagerie of adopted barnyard animals. www.CynthiaBrian.com

Book Cynthia!
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If you are looking for a spokesperson, garden consultant, speaker, or talent, hire Cynthia Brian

READY!

SET!

GROW!

BUY BOOKS

Growing with the Goddess Gardener

Life began in the garden. A garden is where nature and nurture converge, a calming oasis where we can listen to the call of the wild and sometimes tame the shrew. Growing with the Goddess Gardener is a brilliant bouquet of twelve months of heartfelt true short stories celebrating living, loving, laughing, and learning in the garden. A calendar years worth of tips, tricks, and to-do lists guides you in your quest of mindfully cultivating your own fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers in following chapters.  In your hands is the power to make this world a more beautiful place while you connect and collaborate with Mother Nature on your terms.  The Goddess Gardener invites you to a personalized garden party.  Get going and start sowing with Growing!

 

ISBN: 9781945949968 (Color Interior)

ISBN: 9781945949593 (Black and White Interior)

Purchase: www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store

This beautiful  6″ x 6″ garden guide of 165 pages published by Waterfront Press is the perfect size for gift giving in baskets, stockings, and as a hostess treat for anyone who appreciates nature, the outdoors, and growing. Growing with the Goddess Gardener is available with color photos inside or black and white interior photographs. 

Discounts available for premium case sales on all of Cynthia Brian’s books. 

Get Extra Goodies by Purchasing Directly

Buy books directly from our store, to receive the BEST prices and lots of extra goodies. For each book purchased you will receive:

1. Personalized Autograph Copy

2. Special Seeds to Plant

3. Fragrant Potpourri

4. Bookmark

5. Inspirational Information

PLUS 25% of every sale will go to Be the Star You Are!® literacy and positive message charity.

http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store

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Shopping on line? #StartWithaSmile at https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882 

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  6. Amazon donates .05% to Be the Star You Are!®

Please note that books purchased through Amazon will be delivered directly from Amazon and will not include any autographs or extra goodies.

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Praise

This is a wonderful book, very inspirational and just the thing we all need to get us out of our chairs and into the garden, getting some exercise and reaping the rewards in so many different ways from simply enjoying nature to savouring the produce. Michael Marriott, Senior Rosarian, David Austin Roses, www.DavidAustinRoses.com

“So much of gardening is about love and peace as well as practical advice. Cynthia Brian’s Growing with the Goddess Gardener offers both, with caring and wisdom.” Pat Stone, Editor, GreenPrints, “The Weeder’s Digest” www.GreenPrints.com

“Cynthia simply exudes love for nature, and the beauty that surrounds us in our daily lives.” Jim Berry-Lifetime Nurseryman & Owner of J. Berry Nursery, www.jberrynursery.com/home

Cynthia is a sparkling personality!  As an inspirational writer, she overflows with insightful suggestions and a positive view of the world that is contagious – a great anecdote for the trials of the world.  I can’t speak higher about her vision of life and the things she covers so eloquently in her writing and on the radio.

Jackson Madnick, Pearl’s Premium Ultra Low Maintenance Lawn Seed, www.PearlsPremium.com

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Wishing You a Happy, Healthy Year!

Dig a little. Dream a lot. 

Here’s to Green 2018!

Cynthia Brian

The Goddess Gardener

StarStyle® Productions, LLC

PO Box 422 

Moraga, California 94556

925-377-STAR (7827)

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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http;//www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store

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PO Box 376
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Wet & Wild, Paw Protection, Mindfulness Meddling By Cynthia Brian

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Empowerment

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If you are looking for upbeat, life-changing, and mind stretching information, you’ve come to the right place. Host Cynthia Brian takes you on a journey of exploration that will encourage, inspire, and motivate you to make positive changes that offer life enhancing results. It’s party time on StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!®. And YOU are invited! Join us LIVE 4-5pm Pt on Wednesdays or tune in to the archives at your leisure. Come play in StarStyle Country.
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Rain, rain, and more rain! With the many years of drought experienced in California, can our parched soils accommodate the abundance of precipitation or are we getting a prescription for flooding, landslides, and toppling trees. Find out ways to manage the winter H20.
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Are you dressing your dog for the cold? Be careful, you may be overheating her. Tips on protecting your pet from the elements to keep pooch be healthy and happy.
Rain Chains
The mindfulness movement is growing. Are you being sold marketing claims or are you benefiting. Cynthia Brian gets honest with commercial promises.
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LIVE IN TEMPE-WTR - 26
Listen at Voice America, Empowerment Channel 

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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!®, (http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org) each program will pump your energy to help you live, love, laugh, learn, and lead.
For photos, descriptions, links, archives, and more, visit http://www.StarStyleRadio.com.
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