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Water-Wise Landscaping

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
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Empowerment
Water-Wise Landscaping

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

Growing Water-Wise

By Cynthia Brian

 

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

 

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

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

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

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Drought-tolerant perennial contenders include:

Salvia

Blanket flower,

Catmint

Agastache

Guara

Milkweed

Penstemon

Verbena

Mallow

Coreopsis

Red hot poker

Kangaroo paw

Geranium

Spanish lavender

African daisy

Lantana

Yarrow

Statice

Everlasting sweet pea

Echinacea

Sage

Sea holly

Rose

Feverfew

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Shrubs with minimal water needs are: 

Ceanothus,

Bottlebrush

Pride of Madeira

Heavenly bamboo

Pittosporum

Smoke tree

Cotoneaster

Butterfly bush

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

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Vines that I recommend are:

Bougainvillea

Honeysuckle

Jasmine

Climbing and rambling roses. 

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

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

Zinnia

Marigold

Cleome

Portulaca

California poppy

Globe amaranth

Vinca

Chamomile

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Cosmos

Sunflower

Wax begonia

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

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

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

Olive

Pomegranate

Fig

Marina strawberry

Desert willow

Pistache

Mimosa

Manzanita

Crape myrtle

Redbud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.     Check irrigation systems for leaks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

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Photos and More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1609/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Growing-water-wise.html

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 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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

cyntha brian with books.jpg

Summer of Succulents!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Summer of Succulents!

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By Cynthia Brian

 

We Californians are constantly accused of not having seasons, but we do. We have fire, flood, mud, and drought.”  Phyllis Diller

It’s that time of the year again. School is out. The weather is warming. The drought continues. We fear fires. Flood and mud are distant memories. Because of water restrictions, many homeowners are seeking alternatives to thirsty vegetation that demand a constant drink. Enter succulents. 

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Succulents have fleshy, thick leaves that store water and thrive in warm, dry conditions. They are very low maintenance, prefer dry conditions, and enjoy copious amounts of sunshine. Cactus are succulents, although most gardeners prefer succulents that do not have spines, stickers, or prickly pokes. Succulents are beautiful and come in a range of colors including green, silver, orange, yellow, purple, lavender, pink, red, bronze, and mixtures. The more sunlight they receive, the more colorful they become. Many of the fleshy leaves are arranged in rosettes. Succulents are easy to propagate through cuttings. Sometimes planting a single leaf will result in a new succulent. They have shallow roots and can be packed together for instant impact. Arranging succulents in swaths shows off the varying colors, textures, and forms resulting in a tapestry of interest. Replacing a lawn with an artful array of various succulent species, sizes and shapes is an attractive and waterwise investment. Succulents may be mixed in a garden with other drought-resistant floras such as lavender, lambs’ ear, verbena, sage, or lantana. 

Aeonium, Sedum, Echeveria, Sempervivum, Agave, and Aloe are just a few of the over five thousand species of succulents that will thrive in our landscapes.

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Aeonium

Native to the Canary Islands, the thirty-five species of aeoniums tolerate a bit of shade with rosettes that grow taller  (some to five feet or more) than ground-hugging succulents. Cascading over containers, they add drama to a patio setting, especially with their conical clusters of flowers that bloom on eight-inch stems.

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Sedum

Mostly concentrated in Mexico and Europe, sedums are extremely hardy and useful in dry gardening. They are terrific in containers and often spill over. As ground covers, many are low growing, making them perfect for rock gardens.

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Echeveria

Always formed in rosettes and mostly derived from Mexico, these colorful succulents can be frilly, rounded, or fuzzy, boasting an arching stalk of a bell-shaped flower. 

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Sempervivum

Native to Southern and Central Europe, sempervivum is a succulent rosette. The plants flower only once before dying making this genus monocarpic. Before dying, they produce a pup or chick around their mother plant.

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Agave

Tequila is made from the agave plant, although the sap from the agave is toxic to both humans and pets. Hailing from North America, these rosette-shaped succulents have long, spiny tips with specimens that grow to ten feet in height and diameter as well as dish-size varieties. They produce a tall flower stalk from their center at maturity, which could be decades, then die. 

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Aloe

There are hundreds of species of aloes originating from Africa or Central America. Some are prickly, others thick and fleshy. The Aloe Vera is used for medical applications and is a “must-have” plant for households, especially useful by squeezing the juice from a leaf on a cut or burn. 

To get ideas on creating a garden using succulents and other drought-tolerant plants, an enlightening excursion to the natural setting of the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek is encouraged. www.RuthBancroftGarden.org. Specimens may be purchased at their nursery and gift cards are available through their online store.

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Goddess Gardener’s Guide

ü  Besides boasting about succulents, I am excited that I have been harvesting cauliflower. If you haven’t tried growing cole crops, I highly suggest doing so. I grow cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, and cauliflower. All parts of the plants are edible, and they are superfoods.

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ü  In full bloom now, peonies and gardenias are a couple of my all-time favorite flowers to add to bridal bouquets as well as flower arrangements. Peonies only last a few days in a vase; however, their impact is dramatic. A single gardenia fills a room with glorious fragrance. 

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ü  June officially begins the fire season. Make sure to remove debris from around structures and cut wild grasses to the ground. Most importantly, get your Go Bag ready and prepare for an evacuation, if necessary.

ü  We are in a serious drought with mandatory water restrictions. Maintain your landscape by watering deeply but infrequently in the morning and evening. 

ü  Perhaps a pot of peonies or a few containers of succulents would be an attractive gift for a garden-loving, water-saving dad for Father’s Day?

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Relish a succulent summer and stay safe.

Photos at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1608/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Succulent-summer.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Father’s Day!

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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.

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Roses for All

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Roses for All

Pink bonica roses.jpeg

By Cynthia Brian

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

Ask any gardener who grows a multitude of roses what they think of the species, and you’ll probably get an answer that sounds seriously star-struck. I am a dedicated devotee of roses. They consistently amaze me with their resilience, beauty, and bountiful blooms. It wasn’t until the end of February that I completed my heavy pruning, and by the end of April, the roses had sprouted new shoots and were already in full bloom. This month, the flowers are even larger and more plentiful. Depending on the variety, each flush lasts approximately three to four weeks from bud to deadheading. Over the years I have created multiple rose rooms that continue to delight me throughout the year. If you have not added roses to your landscape, please put them on your bucket list to plant next year.  Once established, they don’t require much water, and with a bit of TLC, you, too, will enjoy seasons of splendor. To keep your roses bug-free, add a few cloves of garlic around the base of each trunk. Mix a cup of alfalfa pellets into the soil in March to increase the nitrogen for greener leaves. 

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Entertaining in the summer garden is my favorite manner to gather friends and family for al fresco dining, conversation, and laughter. There is always so much to celebrate in June–the end of school, graduations, Father’s Day, birthdays, showers, and weddings. This is the time to spruce up the yard in anticipation of the summer to come. Because of the pandemic, for the past two-plus years, I have spent countless hours working in the garden yet have not entertained friends or family. The garden is thriving with my diligence, and I have been reaping the health benefits of my efforts in my body, mind, and spirit.

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The leaves of the spring bulbs as well as the naked lady bulbs that will bloom later in the season have all dried like hay, making the garden appear messy. I’ve pulled multiple garbage bins of them for the compost pile along with so many buckets of weeds that I’ve lost count. 

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Butterflies are plentiful in my garden as they flutter from flower to flower. Swallowtails are in abundance as are several different white and yellow flyers that I haven’t identified. After I rescued a bee from a swimming pool, it returned to sting me on my back. No good deed goes unpunished! If you get stung by a bee, remove the stinger immediately, make a paste of baking soda mixed with water, add vinegar, and apply to the sting to ease the pain and swelling. If you are allergic to bees or are stung by a swarm, call 911. With all the lizards, frogs, birds, bees, and butterflies, my garden is vigorously growing and feeding the beneficials.

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Enjoy your green lawns now because as the temperatures heat up, brown spots will appear. Since the water district has mandated a 10% water use reduction District-wide, expect that lawns will not look as lush and lovely as they do now. Make sure to water deeply early in the morning or early evening only once a week to keep the roots alive. Mow the grass to three inches and if possible, do not use a bag when mowing. The cut grasses re-nourish the lawn and will help it stay greener longer.

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From what I’ve gathered from numerous scientific data, the pandemic is not over and in fact, new variants may make life more challenging by the fall. In the meantime, I’ll be diligent and careful while I continue cutting my roses for glorious indoor bouquets to boost my spirits. As an eternal optimist, I always see the world through rose-colored glasses. 

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Congratulations to all the graduates everywhere. Go into the garden and introduce yourself to the roses. Life is coming up roses!

Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for June

ü  LEARN to identify insects and diseases to better detect problems early.

ü  ENCOURAGE natural enemies such as toads, lizards, snakes, birds, ladybugs, and praying mantis.

ü  ROTATE crops to avoid depleting the soil and building up pests.

ü  MAKE your own potting mix by combining equal parts of compost

ü  BEWARE of the deadly plant, poison hemlock. Identify it by its red spots. Wear gloves and a mask when weeding.

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ü  WATER lawns and flowerbeds deeply to encourage strong root growth.

ü  HARVEST seeds of perennials like penstemon, calendula, and poppies to spread in other areas where color is needed.

ü  SUCCESSION planting is the key to a plentiful supply of summer greens including lettuces, arugula, beets, carrots, and radishes. Sow your favorite seeds every three weeks as you consume.

ü  PREVENT fires by removing debris, dead branches, and refuse from around your home and yard. 

ü  WEED a final time before the hot weather arrives. Weeds suck the moisture and nutrients from nearby plants.

ü  PLANT bottlebrush as a large privacy screen and bee magnet.

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ü  CLEAN patio furniture. Freshen your outdoor look with paint, new cushions, or throw pillows.

ü  CUT bouquets of roses to enhance your indoor rooms. 

ü  WANT a perennial that blooms year-round? The delicate Santa Barbara daisy is easy to grow and lives in unison with roses. 

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ü  DETER  raccoons from rolling back your lawn searching for grubs by putting down fruit tree netting which they dislike on their feet.

ü  MAKE your voice heard. VOTE in the elections.

Photos at: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1607/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Coming-up-roses.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.

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian in May

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian in May

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By Cynthia Brian 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to live on this beautiful and astonishing Planet Earth. In the morning, I woke up with a sense of gratitude.” –Earl Nightingale

In California, May reigns as one of the most colorful months of the year. Mother Nature has fully awakened from lingering winter doldrums to burst into bloom. The radiant combination of lush green lawns against cheerful vignettes of glowing, flowing flowers, trees, and shrubs is mesmerizing. Beauty, fragrance, and food beckon from every direction.

With appreciation, I awake each morning and fall asleep each night to the lullabies from a multitude of songbirds. Pollinators are busy buzzing from nectar plants to other food sources signaling a healthy garden environment. The succession of blossoms changes daily from spring bulbs to robust roses; bright bearded iris to sprouted seeds scattered last fall. 

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May is the optimum time to plant annuals, vegetables, and herbs together in a potager garden. By combining a medley of edibles and florals, biological pest control is ignited providing plants to protect one another and be a shelter for beneficial insects. Nasturtium, calendula, and marigolds are the colorful workhorses attracting hungry caterpillars and blackflies away from brassicas and beans. Garlic planted between roses, lettuce, potatoes, or even fruit trees will keep the aphids, Japanese beetles, and ermine moths at bay. Parsley attracts pollinators and protectors of tomatoes. Mint deters ants and aphids but make sure to plant in a pot as mint can overtake an entire garden. Before planting, weed thoroughly, enrich the soil with compost or add new soil, and rotate crops to maintain vigor while producing greater yields.

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Jerusalem star, also known as go-to-bed early, vegetable oyster, or salsify is considered an invasive weed in some areas, but this dandelion-related plant is a forgotten beloved Victorian-era edible that tastes like an oyster and grows like a carrot. Its yellow-flowering relative is named goats beard. The taproot grows to twelve inches into the ground. Harvest with care to not break the root. In the kitchen, salsify is versatile and delicious in soups, stews, bisques, casseroles, or grated like beets in a salad for a fresh seafood/artichoke flavor. The entire plant has been used medicinally. 

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Be cautious of poisonous plants invading your vegetable garden. Poison hemlock is everywhere and is deadly if ingested. The pretty plant displays lacy and fernlike leaves with very delicate white flowers. A member of the carrot family, it is often mistaken for Queen Anne’s lace, a less- lethal specimen. The best way to identify poison hemlock is to look at the stems which have red or purple spots or streaks. Its most poisonous alkaloid is coniine which causes complete respiratory collapse. Only mechanical or artificial ventilation can save someone who has ingested poison hemlock. Wear gloves and a mask to dig out the root. Don’t weed whack it or burn it as small particles could be inhaled. Socrates drank hemlock tea as his preferred method of dying. 

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The yellow blooms of the elderberry tree signal spring’s arrival, and people need to be aware of the toxicity of this beautiful tree. The stems, seeds, leaves, bark, and roots are all poisonous to humans containing a cyanide-inducing glycoside. The blue-black berries are safe to eat only after boiling for at least twenty minutes. Elderberry jam and wine are popular and include major health benefits.

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Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, a spectacularly beautiful biennial plant, is extremely attractive to children and every part of it is lethal to humans. Compounds from this plant are used in heart medicines. Since they grow tall, five to seven feet tall, plant them at the back of a flower garden and keep them out of your kitchen garden.

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Besides getting my potager and vegetable garden installed, my latest fun spring project has been creating a living wall garden by using a decorative frame from Nature Hills Nursery that features a built-in watering tray and a reservoir for drainage. This instant wall planter is a step up from the DYI picture frame with chicken wire-filled moss that I designed several years ago. I added potting soil to the portrait garden, arranged a variety of succulents, attached a found turkey feather, watered, and hung it on the exterior of my house in the sunshine as a growing art piece. 

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Every day I am immersed in gratitude for the wonders of Mother Earth as I watch the procession and succession of nature’s bounty. Walk gently through your garden to enjoy the miraculous magic of May. 

The Goddess Gardener’s Gardening Guide for May

ü  FERTILIZE: If you haven’t already, fertilize trees, shrubs, rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, lawns, and ground covers while the days are warm, and the evenings are cool. 

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ü  FEED indoor plants

ü  BAIT for snails and slugs that will damage new seedlings with organic Sluggo. The active ingredient is iron phosphate. Corry’s Slug and Snail Killer contains 5% sodium ferric Exceda that is safe for pets and people and can be used on edibles. After eating the bait, these gastropods slink to their hiding places to die. Because both male and female mollusks lay eggs, one slug or snail can contribute to thousands of these pests terrorizing crops if not eradicated. 

ü  SPRAY roses, crape myrtle trees, and ground cover susceptible to aphids and fungal diseases.

ü  DEADHEAD roses as the petals fade to encourage continuous blooming.

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ü  PLANT annuals and perennials including zinnia, salvia, calibrachoa.

ü  ELIMINATE standing water from gutters, old tires, or saucers to reduce the breeding of mosquitoes.

ü  TRANSPLANT small trees, including fruit trees such as nectarine or avocado to the desired area. 

ü  MOW tall wild grass to three inches or less as a fire defensible space.

ü  COMBINE edibles and flowers in a kitchen garden with a variety of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beets, squash, garlic, parsley, borage, nasturtium, calendula, roses, and marigolds.

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1606/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Spring-succession.html

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.

cynthia brian-pink roses.jpeg

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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
April Showers Bring May Flowers

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By Cynthia Brian

 

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” William Shakespeare

If experiencing rain in a dry season doesn’t put a spring in our step, what will? After months of no precipitation, finally, in April we experienced a few showers.  A critical ingredient of California’s water supply, the Sierra snowpack is less than 40% from its peak. The drought will be with us this summer and fall but these mid-spring storms will deliver May flowers. 

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Jasmine is the delightful scent permeating the air, especially after a rain shower. The intoxicating perfume is rejuvenating. I grow jasmine throughout my landscape, various vines twining up trees. Multiple colors of bearded iris tender their brilliance in the middle of my hillside, where, after the rainfall, new weeds sprout. Proliferating is Herb Robert geranium, a fragrant weed that is pretty when small yet suffocating to other plants when full-grown. The positive aspect of this weed is that it is very easy to pull out by the roots when the soil is moist. Weeds shooting up on my gravel paths demand attention. 

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Bulbs and rhizomes are the ultimate celebrities of my garden. Once planted, I forget about them until they burst into bloom, a welcome surprise especially when other plants are failing.  If you are a beginner gardener, I highly recommend indulging in bulbs for all seasons. Most require little maintenance or effort with minimal water while providing maximum results. Some of my perennial favorites that are available in hues of white, pink, purple, yellow, and mixed colors include calla lily, gladiolus, oriental lily, bearded iris, Asiatic lily, dahlia, anemone, and naked lady. 

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The April showers also brought a swath of wild onions or more accurately, A. triquetrum three- cornered leek. The invasive, yet edible wild field garlic and three-cornered leek boast delicate white bell-shaped flowers with a distinct onion aroma. If they are growing in your landscape, enjoy them as in culinary dishes as you would chives or green onions, albeit with a stronger flavor. If you are not a fan of garlic or onions and you have these growing in your garden, it can be almost impossible to eradicate an abundant population. Also, be aware that there are other toxic species of flowers that resemble the tree-cornered leek including death camas or death lily. All parts of that plant are poisonous. The best safety method in differentiation is to only eat a plant that looks and smells like garlic or onion.

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Another edible weed that I cultivate is mustard. Young mustard greens are delicious sautéed with onions, garlic, and olive oil or added to soups, salads, sandwiches, and stews. The flavor is snappy and hot. 

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Roses are already in glorious bloom. Rose petals can be added to baths as well as salads if they have not been treated with chemicals. With Mother’s Day around the corner, perhaps you’d like to present your mom with a gift of roses? 

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These young sprouts encourage us to embrace the spirit of youth as we march into May! A heartfelt shout out to every Mom! You are our nurturers, teachers, and consolers. Happy Mother’s Day! 

Goddess Gardener Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for May

 

COMPLY with Moraga Orinda Fire district mandates by creating a defensible space around your home. Requirements include:

·      trimming trees to maintain a six-foot vertical clearance from the roof line.

·      removing hazardous vegetation.

·      clearing debris from gutters and roofs.

·      maintaining a two-foot non-combustible space around structures.

·      remove fire laddering fuels by trimming trees to eight feet above the ground.

·      cut grass to three inches or less in height.

·      remove dead or dying trees and shrubs.

·      the compliance deadline is June 1st!

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SPRAY your barbecue grill with white vinegar then scrub with half an onion to clean the grates and get ready for outside dining.

BUFF your garden tools by plunging them in a five-gallon bucket of sand mixed with a cup of vegetable oil. The sand will keep them sharper and the oil wards off rust. Small hand tools can be stored in the sand bucket. 

PLANT frost tender plants as the weather warms towards the end of the month. Ground covers, citrus, bougainvillea, and summer annuals are available for purchase. 

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SOW seeds of scarlet runner bean, sweet peas, or morning glories to climb on fences and wire. 

CUT back the dying leaves of narcissi and daffodils if the fronds are dry and crunchy. If still green, wait another month.

SNIP a few tendrils of blooming jasmine. Add them to a vase for an enchanting fragrance that will permeate your house.

BAIT the snails and slugs, pick them off by hand, use copper barriers, or bowls of beer. These slimy crawlers will devour new seedlings.

BUY ladybugs from your nursery or garden center only if you see aphids or other pests on your plants. Remember ladybugs fly to infested gardens. 

WEED, weed, weed. Because of the spring rains, weeds are ubiquitous, yet easy to pull. If they don’t have seed heads, add pulled weeds to your compost pile.

FERTILIZE lawns, trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants.

TREAT roses organically to repel aphids and fungal diseases.

SPRAY evergreen pear trees and crape Myrtle trees to treat for and prevent fungal diseases including mildew and leaf spot.

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BUY a red rose to show your love for your mother or anyone’s mom on Mother’s Day. 

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Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Photos and more:

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1605/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-April-showers.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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

Pruning Roses

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Pruning Roses

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

 

Time to Prune Roses

By Cynthia Brian

“I love to prune my roses. That’s the one thing I really feel I do pretty well!” Julie Andrews

My roses are still blooming, and the bushes are filled with leaves. Yet, it is February and time to do the heavy pruning. My grapevines are already pruned, but I’ve been waiting for my roses to remember it is winter before I cut them back. Towards the middle to end of January used to be the optimum weeks to prune roses. Last year, I didn’t prune until late February and this year will be the same. Pruning any later in the season will deplete the plant’s energy resulting in spindly shoots. Normally within two months of pruning, the roses are once again touting their fragrant flowers. I gave over a hundred canes of my various roses to my neighbor last season. She rooted three or four canes per container of potting soil and by May those canes were blooming. 

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Ah, roses. They are one of nature’s super spectacular specimens. Fossil evidence in Oregon and Montana indicates that the rose dates back at least 35 million years, long before humans appeared on the landscape. Cultivation probably began in China more than five thousand years ago. In the seventeenth century, roses and rose water were used as payment for goods and barter. Late in the eighteenth century, China introduced cultivated roses to Europe. Throughout history, roses have been used for perfume, medicine, symbolism, and legal tender. 

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For many years, I’ve had the privilege of chatting with various expert rosarians across the globe. The one piece of advice that is common to all is the recommendation to lose the fear of pruning. Although there are guidelines for proper pruning, if you make a mistake, or don’t follow the directions, most likely the rose bush will survive despite your best efforts to give it a bad cut.

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The reasons for pruning are numerous. Pruning does the following:

1.     Creates a plant that will flower with high-quality blooms.

2.     Shapes the bush into an attraction that fits with the garden.

3.     Removes deadwood and diseased stems.

4.     Removes canes that are weak or rubbing against one another.

5.     Stimulates new growth.

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Pruning is cathartic and good for the soul of humans! It is a garden chore that I always encourage a homeowner to do herself as opposed to hiring someone to do this chore. Tools of the trade include heavy-duty garden gloves, a sharp-edged pruning shear, and long-handled loppers for those thick canes. Sterilize your tools before you begin the task, then get up close and personal. 

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How to Prune:

 

Most roses are not fussy when it comes to how they are pruned. Repeat flowering shrub and bush roses are the most forgiving. English roses, hybrid teas, floribundas, patio, and miniatures can be pruned similarly. Reduce their height by 1/3 to 2/3 depending on how you want your plant to look and how tall you want the plant to grow. Thin stems to aid in disease control. 

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Since the goal of climbing and rambling roses is to climb and cover a pergola, fence, or other structure, only light pruning is necessary. Flowers are produced on side shoots which can be reduced to three or four buds, depending on the appearance you wish. If you must choose between cutting out an old shoot or a new shoot, always prune the old and save the new.

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Many of the Old Roses like Gallicas, Damasks, and Albas that only bloom once will only flower on shoots from stems that are at least a year old. If you prune once-flowering roses too heavily, you will have no flowers. When they are five or six years old with tired-looking stems, you can cut them out to encourage new growth and flowering. 

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After you have pruned, offer the healthy canes of non-trademarked species to friends and neighbors who would like to begin propagating roses. Or cultivate a new rose garden for yourself by dipping the canes in a rooting hormone then planting in a container with good quality potting soil.  Clean up any leftover stems, remove leaves from the bushes, and add to the compost pile.

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To add to your collection of roses, purchasing bare root and planting in February is a cost-saving way to go that will yield blooms in late spring. Once you’ve brought your bare roots home, soak them in a bucket of water overnight and then allow them to drain for thirty minutes before planting. Never allow the roots to dry out. Check the roots for any damage and trim as necessary. If the roots look good, do not trim or cut. 

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Roses thrive in humus-rich, water-retentive soil with a pH of 6.5. Choose a bright, sunny location void of competition for root space, water, and nutrients. Improve the soil with rotted manure and compost and dig a generous size hole. Read directions on the package to determine the optimum hole size. Augment with mycorrhizal fungi to improve water supply and nutrients. Plant the bud union two inches below ground level. Water well. In spring, you’ll want to add a layer of mulch or compost around each plant and fertilize the roses. Companion plant with lavender to encourage beneficial insects to be on pest patrol.

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Your roses will be lush, blooming, and beautiful just in time for barbecues and patio parties. By Mother’s Day, you’ll be picking bouquets. Instead of buying cut roses for Valentine’s Day, consider giving the gift of a potted rose plant. Miniatures make great gifts.

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Now, back to pruning my roses because I do it pretty well, too!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Valentine’s. 

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Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1525/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Time-to-prune-roses.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.

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Housemates with Houseplants

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Housemates with Houseplants

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“Having plants in your house is a natural way to continuously clear yourself!” Doreen Virtue 

Forty-five! That’s the number of houseplants that filled my tiny dorm room on the 7th floor of Hedrick’s Hall during my freshman year at U.C.L.A. Every shelf, box, windowsill, wall hook, desk, and floor space were filled with a container sprouting something green. I had gone from being surrounded by nature on the farm to living in a high rise in the concrete jungle. My body, mind, and spirit craved a garden. I created an indoor oasis of easy-care houseplants that helped me breathe better in those days when Los Angeles was clogged with smog.

Eighteen! That’s the number of potted plants that currently grace my indoor space. The number doubles if you count containers on my porch and balcony. Most of my family of plants have been with me for decades. I have a fiddleleaf fig that began as a small specimen in a one-gallon pot that now towers to fifteen feet in my hall.

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A precious peace lily that was gifted to me when Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul hit the New York Times bestseller list currently inhabits a nine-square-foot corner of my family room. An original four-inch size variegated bromeliad birthed pups and is a focal flora in my living room.

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My lucky bamboo growing in water peppered with pebbles soars three feet or more. 

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With winter keeping us from digging outside, indoor plants offer a way to garden in inclement weather while adding beauty to your interior décor. Even better than the attractiveness that plants bring to our designs, they are air-filtering workhorses as well. Air quality has become a big buzzword during the covid pandemic. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants convert the carbon dioxide we exhale and also remove gases from the air through a process called absorption. Back in 1989,  a NASA report concluded that “household plants could provide a “promising economical solution to indoor air pollution.” A 2020 study published in the Journal of Environmental Management indicated that it would take a green wall to improve the health index of an interior environment.  No matter which is truer, one thing is certain, being in nature as well as being surrounded by houseplants lowers our blood pressure, reduces stress, and improves mental health. 

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Numerous specimens that make excellent houseplants. A few of my favorites include orchids, bromeliads, aloe, peace lily, snake plant, spider plant, pothos, dracaena, croton, fiddleleaf fig, dieffenbachia, anthurium, parlor palm, arrowhead plant, and lucky bamboo. All of these are very easy-to-maintain, offer gorgeous greenery, and can live for years with minimal proper care.

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To grow healthy, happy plants that will provide endless enjoyment and attractiveness, these elements are necessary.

1.     Provide the correct amount of light. 

Before you purchase any houseplant, look around your home for your light conditions. Some plants need bright light in a south window, others prefer the low light of a north-facing window.  Some like it hot, some like it cool. Do your homework. 

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2.     Water cautiously.

Many houseplants drown from over-watering. The lucky bamboo is one the rare specimen that thrives in water. Make sure that you have adequate drainage in all containers. Put gravel or small pebbles at the bottom of the pot. Poke a chopstick or pencil into the soil. If it comes out soggy, do not water. If it is dry, offer hydration to your plant friend. Plants may dry out more quickly in winter when forced air heaters are operating. Most plants may require water once a week or less. 

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3.     Fertilize according to directions.

Stop feeding plants in the winter. Start again in the spring. Leafy green plants will need nitrogen, plants that flower want phosphorous. 

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4.     Eradicate bugs.

Placing a clove of garlic in the soil is a great way to keep your friend bug-free. To kill bugs, place a clove of garlic in the soil. Mealybugs, aphids, and scale can be removed with a spray solution of water, alcohol, and dish detergent. The solution can also be rubbed on the leaves. Make sure to let the soil dry out if fungus gnats appear.

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5.     Maintain humidity.

Cacti enjoy dry conditions; however, most plants prefer 50% humidity. In winter, our homes tend to be drier. If containers can be lifted, add a saucer of pebbles filled with water to increase the humidity, or spray with a fine mist. Another idea is to take your plant into your bathroom or shower. 

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6.     Trim spent blossoms and dead leaves.

When flowers are finished blooming, or leaves die, remove them as soon as possible to allow for new growth. 

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7.     Other things.

Always read the instructions on care before making a purchase. Turn all houseplants a quarter turn at least once every two weeks to maintain their shape as most will reach for the sunlight.  If you receive plants as gifts, make sure to remove wrapping to allow for good drainage. Living Christmas trees need to be moved outdoors. Depending on the size, you may be able to use the tree for next year’s holidays. Or you may need to transplant your tree into a larger container to keep on your patio.  If you are going to plant it in the ground, determine the placement carefully as these trees will grow into very large evergreens with expansive roots. 

One final interest of mine that is an educational and exciting experiment for children is rooting vegetables in a glass of water on a windowsill. Avocados, fennel, scallion, green onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and leeks grow quickly. Refresh the water daily. I currently am growing leeks and continue to use the green tops in my cooking.

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With a little effort, your interiors will be healthier and more stunning with the introduction of living greens. Bring nature indoors with you while enjoying cleaner air living happily with your organic artistic housemates.

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1524/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Houseplant-housemates.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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

A New Garden Year

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
A New Garden Year

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“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”

– William Blake

The rainy days and nights have been a welcome respite to our dry, drought-driven California. What a delight to witness hills of green and listen to the rushing waters in our creeks. In the past few weeks, seeds and weeds have germinated providing a lush look to every landscape. Green is the color of life, renewal, and most of all, nature. How fortunate we are to behold green spaces and places as the new year kicks off. 

After the recent atmospheric river, I went to check on the Brussel sprouts and sugar snap peas previously planted. To my surprise and delight, the gravel path was covered with sprouted arugula and nasturtium, a most delicious unplanned encounter. The seeds must have blown in from the vegetable garden bestowing a ready-made salad corridor.

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In another area, chamomile has covered the ground like a lavish lime carpet. Weeds, appearing as ground covers have made their appearance as well.

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The common cutleaf geranium, a wild weed also known as cut-leaved cranesbill, blankets my hillside. It is beautiful at this stage of its prostrate growth; however, it will prevent other plants from developing. By spring, it will sport tiny pink florets. The recommendation is to control its spread early as each plant will produce 150 seeds or more that will remain viable for 5 to 10 years! I have work to do.

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In winter, wisteria is a tangle of bare branches. My purple wisteria has twined its way into my flowering pear which makes for an artistic tableau with the pear blossoms peeking out from the brambles.

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Fresh leaves have emerged on the loquat tree and the magnolia leaves are a shining brilliant green.

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Society garlic, bergenia, narcissus, and roses offer additional color to the emerald landscape.

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Naked lady bulbs have sprouted their gorgeous green leaves which are commonly mistaken for agapanthus fronds. I write about Naked ladies often as they are a foundation of my late summer garden with their long naked necks and pretty, pink faces. This week I’ve been shooting photos of their green leaves which enhance the beauty of barren earth. 

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My garden has entered the new year in decent enough shape that I will be able to enjoy the winter. If you haven’t gardened before, 2022 will be the time to personalize and customize your outdoor experience to reduce stress, smell the roses, and eat what you grow. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a survey that found 42% of Americans experienced anxiety or depression in 2021 compared to just 11% pre-pandemic. Growing, giving, and receiving flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits trigger the feel-good hormones that heal. Most seeds that are being sold this year will be for edibles as more and more people realize that growing what we want to consume is easy, nutritious, and better for the planet. The Garden Media Group reported that in 2021, 18.3 million people took up gardening, with interest levels equal between men and women. 80% of the younger generation consider gardening a worthwhile and “cool” endeavor as the concern with climate change, plant and wildlife extinction, and food equity escalates. People with children are especially interested in growing organic and natural foods.

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Purchasing grow-your-own kits that include the container, seeds, plants, fertilizer, and supports as well as raised beds are expected to be in high demand. Adding native plants to increase biodiversity and forage for the birds and wildlife will also be a critical ingredient. The National Wildlife Federation launched a Guide for Wildlife collection of keystone native plants that will attract insects that will feed 95% of backyard bird species. Getting to know our neighborhood birds has already become a popular pastime. Make sure to provide forage for them as you enjoy their symphonic tunes. (See my article, A Berry, Merry Christmas…Mostly for the Birds https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1522/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-berry-merry-Christmas-mostly-for-the-birds.html)

 

You don’t need a large landscape to have a garden. You can buy planter boxes or containers that will fit on your porch, balcony, patio, or even a windowsill. Start planning a mixture of flowers, ornamental, and edibles. Many flowers are both beautiful and edible including violets, nasturtium, pansies, tulip petals, day lilies, bee balm, calendula, roses, hostas, and herb flowers. By making 2022 the year to embrace organic methods, adding more plants to our dining menus, and composting the leftovers, we can each do our part to reduce our carbon footprint.

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As you write your goals and resolutions for 2022, I encourage you to keep a green journal and add gardening to the top of your list. You will be rewarded with a more peaceful mind, a soulful spirit, a kinder heart, and a body that is nourished. Cultivate green and together we will dig deeper to sustain and nurture our environment for ourselves and future generations. 

Photos and more: 

https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1523/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-green-themed-New-Year.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Green New Year!

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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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

A Berry Merry Bird Christmas

Posted by Felix Assivo on
0
Empowerment
A Berry Merry Bird Christmas

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By Cynthia Brian

*To me, the garden is a doorway to other worlds; one of them, of course, is the world of birds. The garden is their dinner table, bursting with bugs and worms and succulent berries.” Anne Raver

Birdy, it’s cold outside. 

Deciduous trees are barren of leaves, autumn perennials have finished their blooming cycle, and few flowers adorn the landscape. The glistening ornaments that embellish the foliage are a gastro delight for birds.

Winter has arrived and with it the beautiful berries that are a vital source of food for birds as well as a traditional embellishment to Christmas wreaths and garlands. When we think of berries, we normally conjure images of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries, all grown and harvested in the warmer months. Winter berries are different, and although they are a small fleshy fruit, they are mostly enjoyed by wildlife, with a few edible exceptions eaten by humans. 

My garden boasts a plethora of winter berries that encourage my feathered friends to hang around for the holidays. Finches, mockingbirds, robins, sparrows, jays, quail, doves, bluebirds, and orioles are attracted to the many varieties of berries that will provide their nutrition during a cold and stark winter. A few of my favorites include pyracantha, cotoneaster, viburnum, pepper, Chinese pistache, rosehips, holly, yew, and barberry. Of these, only the pepper berries and rosehips are consumed by my family. Although pomegranates are not a berry, their jewel-red seeds called arils remind me of tiny berries and I grow them in my garden. Pomegranates are a staple of the Christmas fruit basket because of their festive holiday colors/ The arils are filled with antioxidants, potassium, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, packing a punch to keep us healthy. Add them to salads, make a chutney, or stir a splash of juice in a glass of sparkling wine for a festive, flavorful indulgence.

The pretty pink peppercorns from a California pepper tree are a gourmet’s desire. Since these trees are grown as ornamentals many people don’t realize that their berries are edible, with a fruity, spice profile that complements numerous recipes. They can be dried or used fresh. I have found the best way to grind them is with my mortar and pestle because their paper-thin husks get caught in my twist grinder. When making stews or soups, I toss the whole berry, called a drupe because it is a single seed, in the pot. If you buy pink peppercorns, be prepared to pay $10-15 per ounce. Consider planting a California pepper tree which will grow to 30 feet tall and wide if you have the room.

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Although it is mid-December, my roses continue to bloom. This month I am no longer dead-heading my bushes as I want the rosehips to form.

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Since roses are in the same family as apples and crab apples, the taste of rosehips mimics the tartness of crab apples. The seeds/berries of rosehips have powerful disease-fighting capabilities and are packed with vitamin C.  After washing the hips, use them to make jellies, teas, syrups, soups, and desserts. 

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For the birds…

Peeking through leaves and decorating trees and shrubs, winter berries are nature’s Christmas décor. As beautiful as they are, the most critical element of growing these botanicals in your garden is the nutritional fare they provide for the birds and other wildlife during the coldest season of the year when food sources are limited. There are several other autumn ripened berry-bearing bushes or vines that still have shriveled fruit hanging, such as grape and elderberry, that can be left for the birds. Here’s a sampling of vibrant holiday berry dinners fit for the birds.

Cotoneaster emerged as a volunteer in my garden, most likely from seeds brought in by birds. It is an evergreen shrub that grows into a tree if not properly pruned sporting white flowers in spring that are a magnet for bees and rich red berries in winter that are a delicacy for birds. Deer munch on the branches which doesn’t bother the bush. Cotoneaster is fire-resistant and can be propagated from cuttings, although I have found that once one cotoneaster is in a landscape, others seem to sprout like weeds.

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Holly has glossy leaves that are either serrated or spiny teeth. Because most hollies are dioecious, you’ll need to plant both a male and female for cross-pollination if you want those glorious red berries to decorate garlands, wreaths, and Christmas trees. English holly and American holly are the two species most used during the holidays. Although holly berries tend to start ripening in fall, most birds, including blackbirds and song thrushes don’t start feeding on them until late winter when other food is scarce.

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Chinese pistache is one of my favorite trees for its exuberant fall color of yellows and oranges with attractive berries that metamorphose from green to aqua, to pink, and finally magenta. Birds, turkeys, quail, and squirrels go crazy for the bunches of berries that hang from the branches. I add a few sprays to my Christmas tree whenever the fowl and squirrels are kind enough to leave me a few bunches. 

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Pyracantha may be the preferred winter staple of robins. Birds flock to the orange-red berries called pomes, eating so many that they seem intoxicated. Known as firethorns, pyracantha is a fast-growing plant with sharp thorns. Volunteers sprout in unusual locations thanks to the birds spreading their seeds. Keep pyracantha pruned and use branches with berries in holiday arrangements. 

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Viburnum shrubs and hedges add beauty to any garden. They produce pinkish-white flowers that bloom from spring until late fall, depending on the species. Birds love munching on berries ripening in winter with colors that are black, blue, purple, bright red, neon pink, and even yellow. Some species are edible by humans, but other species can be toxic. Unless you know that the viburnum you planted is edible, leave the berries to the birds.

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Yew berries red flesh called arils are sweet and safe for birds. The arils provide nutrients needed by the flyers. The seed inside is deadly, and birds know to discard it. Often called the Tree of Death, all parts of the yew tree are poisonous except the arils. The highly poisonous taxane alkaloids of the yew have been developed as anti-cancer drugs. 

yew berries.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1522/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-berry-merry-Christmas-mostly-for-the-birds.html

Not for the birds…or any animal

 

Nandina adds multi-season interest to any garden with its nectar-rich white flowers that attract pollinators followed by clusters of green berries that ripen to shiny bright red in late fall. The lacy foliage emerges as purple, then turns green, then changes to red and purple throughout the year. As much as I love this ornamental bush, it is important to know the berries are deadly to birds, wildlife, and domestic animals. Most birds innately avoid this plant, but the voracious eaters, cedar waxwings, are susceptible to imbibing until intoxicated. The berries contain cyanogenic glycosides that convert to hydrogen cyanide when ingested. 

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WARNING: When planting berry-bearing bushes, please be cognizant that most provide wildlife forage but may be toxic, poisonous, or even deadly when consumed by humans. Never put any plant substance in your mouth unless you are certain that it is edible.

There is still time to give the gifts that keep on giving by purchasing any of my award-winning books from Https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-storecyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg. Proceeds benefit the literacy charity empower women, families, and youth, Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 (www.BetheStarYouAre.org)

You will receive many additional gifts with every purchase. 

Birdscape your garden by growing a bird-friendly sanctuary with berry-producing floras that birds will love. Wander in a winter wonderland of wildlife and have a berry, merry Christmas…with the birds!

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Blessings to all and a ho, ho, ho!

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1522/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-A-berry-merry-Christmas-mostly-for-the-birds.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Holidays!

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.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Final Fall

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Final Fall

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Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

 Lengthen night and shorten day!

 Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.” Emily Brontë

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Without a doubt, autumn is a beautiful time of the year with cooler weather and spectacular, ever-changing foliage. What I can’t get used to is the early setting sun and the dark skies at 5 p.m. as we enter December. My circadian rhythm is out of sync. My preference is to work in the garden as late as possible every day and in the summer that means until 9 or 9:30 p.m. In fall and winter, my style is crimped, leaving me with long to-do lists. 

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This past week the newspaper publishers and I received an email from the editor of a DIY garden authority from New Zealand who has enjoyed reading the Digging Deep columns. She sent a link to their fall garden information that I am posting here because it includes everything you need to know about planting your fall garden and it is perfect for our location. How honored and thrilled we are to know that Digging Deep is being read in the Southern Hemisphere! Check out their guide to fall gardening. https://happydiyhome.com/fall-garden/

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Since the weather is warm and mild, it is still a great time to re-seed your lawn, cover bald spots, or seed a new lawn. I re-seeded mine a few weeks ago when the atmospheric river and bomb cyclone hit our area with force, and the grass is gloriously green and growing. I have always liked the award-winning seed, Pearl’s Premium, available in California only online at www.PearlsPremium.com.  The roots grow deeper than most seeds and the lawn doesn’t need as much water or mowing. I wrote to Jackson, the founder of the company whom I met when I was lecturing at the National Garden Communicators Conference, and asked if there was a discount that I could offer my readers. He kindly responded that he offers a 10% discount at checkout with the code BLACKFRIDAY. He was apologetic that he couldn’t offer more of a discount at this time, however, due to the wildfires and the drought, two years of his work were decimated resulting in his costs escalating to over 300%. He has seed in stock right now, but, because of the unique seeds that go into his mix, once this season is sold out, we may not be able to get any more seed for a year or more. If kept in its packaging, the seed is good for at least 18 months. Order now. Again, www.PearlsPremium.com and put in the code BLACKFRIDAY.

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Although we only have a few more weeks of fall, because of the current lovely climate, you can continue planting. My jonquils have been blooming for the past month and I continue to install more bulbs. Planting parsley either in beds or in containers is an excellent edible plant that will provide ongoing beauty as well as culinary interest.

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I’ve been harvesting my Brussel sprouts and am planting new seedlings for later harvest. If you are looking for specimens that are deer- resistant, consider Hosta, fern, coral bell, boxwood, weigela, and butterfly bush. Keep in mind that no plant is deer-proof. Succulents are available in many varieties and colors and are an excellent choice for our drought-ravaged land. 

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As we prepare for winter, we still have a few more tasks in the autumn garden to ensure beautiful spring vegetation. Since the rain, weeds have sprouted and need to be pulled as they are not only unsightly and spreading, but they will be detrimental by providing shelter for overwintering uninvited insects and contributing to disease. Pull them out while the soil is still soft and malleable. Once it hardens, the job is much tougher. Remove any dead or diseased plants as well. When substantial rain arrives, it will encourage fungus growth.

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To add more nitrogen to your beds, plant a cover crop of vetch, rye, oats, or other legumes. In the spring, dig it into the soil.  The Farmer’s Almanac encourages protecting fruit trees from winter-hungry rodents by installing a guard of fine mesh hardware around the base of the trees.

Other last-minute chores before fall falls into winter include:

ü  FERTILIZE your trees while they are dormant. Underground the roots are active and can use the nutrient boost.

ü  TAKE cuttings of coleus, pelargoniums, and geraniums before you prune them back for the winter. Put the stems in a jar of water and when they root, you can transplant them to use indoors.

ü  DIVIDE your peonies, daylilies, and bearded iris if you didn’t do it last month. Exchange with friends or find new needy places in your garden.

ü  CONTINUE reusing your gray water for outdoor container plants that won’t benefit from any rainy weather. Every drop you save is crucial as we are not out of the drought woods.

ü  PROTECT roses from extreme temperature changes by covering plants with eight to ten inches of mulch above the crown. 

ü  ADD non-breakable decorative ornaments to trees and shrubs as festive garden features.

ü  COVER frost-prone plants such as bougainvillea with burlap.

ü  CLEAN gazebos, decks, patios, porches, fountains, stairs, bricks, and other structures.

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ü  RAKE debris from gravel paths.

 

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Fall gardening is a wonderful way to reap the benefits of nature. Studies show that spending time outdoors decreases levels of the hormone cortisol, lowers blood pressure, and reduces other markers of stress. Relaxation is the reward. When you are working in the garden, you are exercising which is a critical pillar of optimum health. Going outside encourages you to get up and move. Physical activity is paramount for optimum health. With your autumn gardening duties, your mood will be elevated, especially during this hectic holiday season amidst a pandemic. Spend time in green spaces to reduce your anxiety. The magnificence of nature lowers levels of inflammation in the body. Pollution is the culprit for many illnesses including respiratory problems, cancer, and heart disease. Breathe in the fresh air and experience the awe of autumn.

As we watch the final fluttering of autumn leaves, let your garden be a natural prescription to lower your stress and heighten the excitement of the forthcoming holiday season.

Are you shopping for gifts that keep on giving year after year? Books are the answer! Purchase any of my award-winning books from www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store. Proceeds benefit the literacy, arts, and culture charity, Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 www.BetheStarYouAre.org.

You’ll receive a plethora of additional gifts with every purchase. 

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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Photos: http://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1521/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fall-out.html

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.

©2021 All Photos Cynthia Brian

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

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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