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Buzz On! By Cynthia Brian

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Buzz On! By Cynthia Brian

CU Cynthia-wagon wheel garden.jpg

By Cynthia Brian

*I am weary of swords and courts and kings.  Let us go into the garden and watch the minister’s bees.   Mary Johnston

There is a symphony playing daily in my garden. While my husband turns on the stereo to listen to his favorite tunes, I merely open my door or window to hear the melodic concert of nature. My favorite musicians include the thousands of bees buzzing, hummingbirds bustling, birds singing, frogs croaking, water trickling, owls hooting, and crickets chirping. Sometimes the hawks or turkey vultures swoop low with the sound of their flapping wings creating a “whoosh, whoosh” like a strong base. The orchestra changes by the minute as the pollinators search for nectar that produces one out of every three bites we consume. This week as I was sitting on my porch putting on my boots, a hummingbird came to inspect the red mandevilla blooms next to me, then, rapidly moved to hover three inches from my nose for about ten seconds. It was a magical moment photographed in my mind.
blackberry tart
With much of summer spent outdoors, I’ve had individuals tell me that they don’t like to be in their gardens because of their fear of bee bites. Honeybees, bumble bees, and other native bees are passive as they busily forage. They are not interested in humans and will only sting to defend themselves. With the thousands of bees serenading in my landscape, the only times I have been stung is when I’ve tried to rescue a bee from a swimming pool, fountain, or other water feature. (Of course, if you are allergic to bees, it’s always good to have an updated pen of epinephrine on hand.)
J BERRY Deckorations Hydrangea
Yellow jackets are meat eaters. Although these black and yellow carnivorous creatures are also pollinators, they are mostly attracted to meat, fish, sugary substances, garbage, and, alas, our barbecues and picnics. Unlike bees that sting once and die, yellow jackets have the ability to sting repeatedly. If you have “bees” landing on your plates as you are enjoying a meal outdoors, you have an invasion of yellow jackets, not bees. Bees flock to flowers, yellow jackets to flesh. Find the nest and call Vector Control ((925) 685-9301), a countywide free service paid through our taxes to eradicate these pests. Yellow jackets are not music to our ears.
Buck jumping in front yard
For the rest of the butterflies, moths, bees, and musicians, cue the conductors and buzz on! Go into the garden to enjoy the show.
hummingbird on agapantha
Refresher Steps for Sustained Buzzing
⎫ Build a house: allow for a small pile of leaves or branches to provide shelter.
⎫ Provide a fresh water source: birdbaths, fountains, ponds, even a small mud puddle for the butterflies.
⎫ Don’t use pesticides, insecticides, or other chemicals that will kill the pollinators.
⎫ Offer a continual source of nectar and pollen by planting fennel, parsley, dill, lavender, tubular, colorful flowers, milkweed, and shrubs.
⎫ Attract a diversity of buzzers to your garden with drifts of the same plant so that they can see and smell the buffet.
⎫ Don’t be afraid of the native bees, honeybees, or our other flying winged friends. They are not interested in harming you unless they are defending themselves. Let them do their business.
passion flower vertical
Trending in my garden:
⎫ Santa Rosa plums, cherry plums, Asian pears, apples, blackberries, and tangerines are finding their way to tarts, barbecues, sauces, salads, and drinks.
⎫ Zucchini is growing as fast as the pods in Invaders of the Body Snatchers..
⎫ Wisteria boasts a second flush of purple.
⎫ Roses and stargazer lilies perfume the air and beautify my garden.
⎫ Herbs (parsley, basil, cilantro, fennel, sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and tarragon) are flourishing.
⎫ Hydrangeas are finally blooming. I love putting a hydrangea in a Deckorations™ container from www.Jberrynursery.com, then planting I a shaded area when the blooms fade.
⎫ Passion lower vines are growing on my fence featuring intricate show stopping blooms.
pink stargazer lily
Monthly Tips:
KEEP fruited plants evenly moist to avoid blossom end rot.
PRE-ORDER new garlic varieties for a September delivery. Four new ones that are offered by Sow True Seed (www.sowtrueseed.com) include Early Red Italian, Red Russian, Georgian Fire, and Majestic. Everything tastes better with garlic!
DRY herbs and flowers during the summer to use for infusions into homemade cosmetics, shampoo, steams, and masks.
EAT the tendrils of peas. Stir-fry or eat raw. Many unexpected veggie greens are edible including turnip, radish, and beet. Never eat the leaves of rhubarb as they are poisonous.
PINCH back annuals for a fuller display all summer.
EMPTY any vessel holding water, even as small as a bottle cap to prevent mosquito larvae from breeding. Change birdbaths daily or add Dunks to non-moving water.
DEEP soak trees like magnolia or redwoods especially when you see them dropping abundant leaves.
CHECK outdoor pots and containers daily for moisture level. Pots dry out very quickly in this hot weather.
SNIP the tops of your herbs as they flower to use in your salads and sauces.

skewers of vegetables
SKEWER vegetables and fruits from your garden to barbecue on your grill. Toss the items in a bowl with olive oil,lemon, and herbs, refrigerate overnight, skewer, grill, enjoy! I use peppers, melons, plums, apples, radishes, zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

gravel pile
ADD pea gravel to paths for easy walking and to prevent mud run-offs in the winter.
CONTACT Vector Control if you have a mosquito, skunk, or yellow jacket problem. The phone number is (925) 685-9301.
HANG yellow jacket traps ONLY on days that you are having a picnic or outdoor event. If you have traps always engaged, you will attract more yellow jackets.

Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!
Read more with photos
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Hot, Hot, Hot by Cynthia Brian

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Hot, Hot, Hot by Cynthia Brian

lantana, purple

By Cynthia Brian

“There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.”
~ Celia Thaxter

When it’s hot outside, I want to be in the garden.  I find it challenging to sit in my office writing articles or producing radio shows when nature beckons me to be nurturing the earth. In summer I spend several hours of every single day digging in the dirt whether it’s early in the morning or after dusk because my chores are never finished.  My gardening wardrobe usually consists of my bathing suit and shorts allowing me a quick cool down with a spray from the garden hose.  As my daughter was working in her garden in her bikini she telephoned to declare that she was carrying on our family tradition. “I realize I come from a long line of bikini gardeners, “ she giggled.  I thought of titling my next gardening book, The Bikini Gardener, but then perhaps readers would expect to see beautiful bikini clad bodies instead of gorgeous gardens. I promise not to be photographed!
Baby, it’s hot outside and we gardeners have work to do.  We have to be water conscious, yet we see the bare spots in our landscape and yearn to make our personal paradise a more beautiful place. What are our options?

Planting annuals and perennials offer the answers to filling in those areas that just never seem to seed well.  Between the turkeys, deer, and raccoons, our landscapes have many hurdles to overcome and I’m determined to continue to find ways to succeed.

Here are a few of my favorite recommendations for adding sparkle, individuality, and excitement without the extra water and work this season.

⎫ Sun loving vinca (Catharanthus roseus) crave six hours of sunlight a day and do well in extreme heat. Colors are violet, peach, white, and bright pink. Lately I’ve seen these annuals on sale at garden centers for as little as $4.50 a gallon or three for $12.00 offering a kaleidoscope of shades at bargain prices.
⎫ Lantana once established needs minimal water or maintenance. Butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees are attracted to the highly scented flowers, although some humans find the plant stinky. The deer are repelled by lantana. Some cultivars have variegated leaves, all are evergreen, blooming all year long. Trailing lantana is terrific on hillsides and spilling out of containers or buy the shrub variety growing wide and high to three to ten feet. Multi-colors include orange, yellow, purple, pink, and white.
⎫ Looking for an easy-care container garden? Consider the Deckorations™ Collection from JBerry Nursery.  Combinations of the highest quality plants paired with stylish,functional containers make for turn-key patio prettiness. I have the lantana, azaleas, and hibiscus.  www.jberrynursery.com
⎫ Have you ever grown okra? Experiment with seeds from Botanical Interests (www.BotanicalInterests.com) These spineless productive plants boast flowers that resemble hollyhocks with pods that are full bodied and delectable, especially in gumbo.
⎫ None of the marauding animals seem to be interested in nasturtiums, making them an excellent choice when you are looking for a creeping specimen with edible leaves and flowers. Seeds from Rene’s Garden (www.RenesGarden.com) are strong and sturdy. I use the big lily pad looking leaves as wraps instead of bread and the flowers embellish my salads and plates. In the heat of summer, nasturtiums die back. Collect the seeds to plant in other areas or give away to friends. Seeds self-sow where they drop offering you another delicious and pretty crop.
⎫ Sunflowers make me happy. Their big bright cheery faces stand tall at the back of a garden reminding us that summer is in full swing. When dry, eat the seeds or share them with the birds. Combine hydrangeas with sunflowers for a spectacular cut flower arrangement.
⎫ If you want to plant a native tree that will thrive in our area with no care and even less H20 while flowering for a couple of months with fronds of creamy crape myrtle like flowers, try a California buckeye (Aesculus californic).  Buckeyes are endemic to California hillsides, creeks, and canyons. Add one or three to spice up your yard.

white roses

⎫ Roses are a-must for every garden. I am particularly fond of David Austin Roses and have planted an additional dozen this past spring. Although bare-root arrives in January or February, a rooted rose in a gallon container will thrive when planted correctly in summer. Water deeply until established and dead head the blooms regularly for a display of beauty through winter.  When you buy a quality rose, it requires little care while bolstering the drama of your garden all year. www.DavidAustinRoses.com
⎫ A natural and versatile herb, yarrow (Achillea) is actually a long stemmed member of the sunflower family. Like sunflowers, it is deer resistant!  Achilles, the Greek God unfortunately failed to paint his heel with a tincture of yarrow to make his body invulnerable to arrows. We know the rest of the story. Feathery, fern-like silver-gray leaves mark this fast growing native with flat clusters of florets in yellow, white, apricot, red, or pink depending on the variety.
⎫ Sea Holly Thistle (Ernginium) is a prickly textured plant with leaves like an artichoke.  A sun lover, as much as the bees enjoy it, the deer don’t! Use it in striking arrangements.
⎫ A jewel of a flower, Oriental wind poppies (Papaver orientale) take two years to bloom and hate transplanting, but once you sow them, you’ll enjoy them forever as they bloom from spring through summer!
⎫ Another great Asian contribution include the Asiatic lily. I prefer the deep pink variety, Lilium Speciosum. Plant as bulbs and you’ll get a happy surprise as they burst into bloom year after year.
Sea Holly thistle

I’m grateful for the summer and for the heat, so I’m signing off to go play in my backyard in my bikini.  Stay cool and enjoy your July family festivities.

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing.

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pink asiastic lily
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.net
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

Grow a WildFlower Garden with Cynthia Brian

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Grow a WildFlower Garden with Cynthia Brian

renees garden seeds 1

“May all your weeds be wildflowers.”

When I was a child weeds and wildflowers were synonymous. I would meander through the hills and creeks with my handy Golden Nature Guide called “Flowers: A Guide to Familiar American WildFlowers” along with notebook, paper, and a Brownie camera to capture the images and properties of as many specimens that I could find. Trillium, morning glory, lupin, California poppy, clover, stargazer, brodias, columbine, buttercups, and mustard all captivated me. I would pick the flowers to quickly bring home to iron between wax paper and catalogue into my wildflower scrapbook. In a field of specimens, I’d dig a plant up with the attached roots to transplant into my personal flower plot.
freesia & osteospernum
What I found out is that wildflowers aren’t fussy. They grow in all kinds of soil, don’t need water once they are established, and add stunning textures and vibrancy to your landscape.
1. Find a place where the flowers will get at least six hours of daily sunshine. Wildflowers need lots of sunshine.
2. Before spreading the seed, clear the dirt. Purge all weeds, grasses, or any other growth from the area. Turn the toil with a hoe or a tiller.
3. Rake the soil.
4. Add sand to the seeds at the rate of ten parts sand to one part seed. This will help you to see it when you spread it. Use a seed spreader if you are seeding a big area, or feel free to sprinkle by hand.
5. Don’t cover the seed with soil. It does need to be compressed for better germination either by walking on it or rolling it. I use a five gallon bucket to roll over the seeded soil in any smaller locations.
6. Water the seeds regularly until the plants reach six inches. After that, wildflowers flourish without the addition of extra water, especially great addition to any garden when there is a drought.
7. Prepare for a cavalcade of colors. Annuals bloom quickly, usually within five weeks while perennials may not blossom until the second year.

While many of these flowers are sold in nurseries as annuals, they are wildflowers that will look handsome in your new garden. Annuals live, bloom, and die in one year. Many spread their own seeds after they are done flowering.
poppies.jpg - 1
African Daisy
California Poppy
Four O’Clock
Morning glory
Shirley Poppy

Perennials are interesting as most of them are blue, yellow, orange, or pink. Perennials come back year after year and continue spreading their seeds and beauty. They do need to be pruned back at the end of the season.
Bee Balm
Blanket Flower
Blazing Star
Blue Eyed Grass
Blue Flag Iris
Blue Flax
Butterfly Weed
Cardinal Flower
Gloriosa Daisy
Indian Paint Brush
Joy Pye Weed
Mexican Hat
Oriental Poppy
Purple clover
Shooting Star
Wild Petunia
field of wild flowers
Biennials are plants that live for only two years. During their first year they have foliage but no flowers. In the second year they bloom, set seeds, then, die. Their complete life cycle is two years.
Black-eyed Susan
Canterbury Bells
Dame’s Rocket
Evening Primrose
Queen Anne’s Lace
Sweet William
David Austin roses-bare root
Where to Find Seeds:
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds: www.RareSeeds.com
Renee’s Garden: www.ReneesGarden.com
Sow True Seed: www.SowTrueSeed.com
American Meadows: www.AmericanMeadows.com
Territorial Seed Company: www.TerritorialSeed.com
Select Seeds: www.SelectSeeds.com
John Scheepers Garden Seeds: www.KitchenGardenSeeds.com

Lady Bird Johnson may have said it best with her heartfelt words about wildflowers. “Almost every person from childhood on, has been touched by the
untamed beauty of wildflowers. Buttercup gold under a childish
chin, the single drop of exquisite sweetness in the blossom of
wild honeysuckle, the love-me, love-me-not philosophy of daisy

Wildflowers have certainly been an essential element in my life. I still have that Golden Nature Guide (it cost me a hard earned $1.00 selling chicken eggs) and that Brownie camera (now on display on my collectibles shelf) but most of all I still have the passion for wild flowers. My wild flower garden has been sown and I look forward to sharing photos with you once the blooming begins.

Spring forward and enjoy the outdoors. Plant a wildflower meadow.

MID MARCH REMINDERS from Cynthia Brian

CONGRATULATIONS are in order to the Lamorinda Wine Grower’s Association for their diligent efforts in getting the 29,369 acres of Lamorinda recognized as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). To buy local wine or learn more, visit www.LamorindaWineGrowers.com

CUT the spent blossoms off of daffodils and narcissus but leave the leaves to add nutrients for next years blooms.

HARVEST asparagus spears when they are six to eight inches long.

DYE eggs for Easter with colors from your garden. Red and yellow onions, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, beets, and more will give a unique look to your egg hunt.

PLANT your bare root roses, vines, and trees. Prepare the soil with compost, dig the hole according to directions, fill with top soil, water, and wait for the magic.


VISIT the San Francisco Flower and Garden show March 16-19 from 10am-7pm at the San Mateo Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo to find answers to your gardening dilemmas. $22. www.sfgardenshow.com

ATTEND the Water Conservation Showcase on March 22 between 9-6pm at the P.G. & E. Energy Center, 851 Howard Street, San Francisco sponsored by the United States Green Building Council dedicated to educating and inspiring solutions for saving water, energy, and our earth. Jackson Madnick, Founder of Pearl’s Premium grass seed will be presenting at 4pm. This is a great opportunity to meet the lawn pioneer in person to understand how revolutionary his seeds are and how you can have a lawn in a drought.

SWAP plants and tools on March 26th at 4500 Lincoln Avenues in Oakland from 12-4pm. Trade your goods for other garden elements. Free. www.theplantexchange.com

MARK your calendars for wine and books event benefiting Be the Star You Are!® charity on Saturday, April 9th from noon until 7 at Dawn’s Dream Winery Tasting room, NW Corner of 7th & San Carlos, Carmel-by-the-Sea.

SAVE the earth April 17 from 11:30-4:30 for the Wildlife Earth Day Festival at Wagner Ranch in Orinda.

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Happy Gardening and Happy Growing.
Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Garden and plant consultations by appointment.

March Garden Tips from Cynthia Brian by Cynthia Brian

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March Garden Tips from Cynthia Brian by Cynthia Brian

cu iris

“That which surrounds you is within you.”~ Karl Schmidt

After visiting the Yucatan Peninsula for a week at the end of February where I snorkeled and swam in underground cenotes (rivers) as well as the aqua waters of the Caribbean, I returned to a garden exploding in blooms. Bearded iris, tulips, anemones, freesia, cyclamen, calla lilies, oxalis, Chinese fringe, rosemary, ranunculus, cinerera, gladioli, plus hillsides of daffodils as well as fruit trees of Asian pear, peach, apricot, prune, and crabapple. As the wind blew, the air rained pear blossoms. The soothing smell of springtime permeated my nostrils. How lovely to come home to beauty.
cyn snorkeling – Version 2
The recent insert in our water bill made me laugh with ways to use only thirty-five gallons a day. Besides the fact that they failed to recognize that most households contain more than one individual, they also completely overlooked water for gardens, indoor plants, and pets. Although my water conservation efforts have placed me in the top 20% of savers, the water company also recognized that 68% of my water usage is for landscaping. If only we had access to the water of those 6000 cenotes in the Yucatan!

Many emails have arrived asking about more information on the Pearl’s Premium lawn seed. Since the ground is warming yet the heavens still shower us with rainfall, March is an opportune time to seed and re-seed your lawns. Since my November 4th, 2015 article about this award winning lawn seed, I’ve learned that new research indicates that the roots grow to twenty inches, making the grass, once established very drought resistant. The one draw back that I have discovered from my personal experience is that in our area, the birds do indeed like the seeds. Make sure to roll the seeds for good soil contact and water deeply. Water daily until sprouting occurs. You may have to over seed a few times to get the lush green thickness you desire.
crabapple-rosemary blooms
What to do in your March garden:

PICK up all fallen camellias to prevent petal blight on the plant. Remember that camellia bushes grow into camellia trees so plant in an appropriate location.

PLANT asparagus crowns as soon as the soil is dry enough to work.

SOW Irish potatoes, English peas, radishes, turnips, kale, and carrots any time this month.

ATTRACT Monarch butterflies to your garden by planting milkweed.  A caterpillar increases its body mass 2000 times as it nibbles on milkweed.

ADD the perennial vegetable rhubarb to your potager along with strawberries. They’ll be ready to harvest at the same time, just right for pies, jams, sauces, and other treats.

ESPALIER apples, kiwis, and grapes for easier picking as well as space saving.

SEED and reseed lawns. Clover is an excellent option if you are seeking something other than grass.

FERTILIZE lawns with an organic feed high in nitrogen. All plants can use a boost of nitrogen.

TIME for a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in ten years. Tetanus does not occur just from rusty nails. You can get it from digging in the dirt.
cala lily close up
REPEL insects naturally with swaths of pennyroyal, nasturtium, calendula, and marigold.

NET plants, shrubs, and trees that you don’t want nibbled by birds, deer, rabbits, and other foragers.

DIVIDE agapanthus, daylilies, and iris while they are still semi-dormant.

COMPOST all organic matter to add to your garden. This includes newspaper, shredded cardboard, food scraps (except meat), eggshells, tea leaves, and coffee grinds.

BUILD hugels now while the soil is still easy to dig to help with moisture retention for the summer months.

PLAN your vegetable garden. Check the soil, turn over the cover crops, determine the sunlight conditions, choose your seeds, and write a list of plants you wish to purchase to keep you eating fresh all season.

PLANT culinary herbs including cilantro, chives, dill, mint, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.

PREPARE for Easter celebrations with arrangements of tulips, hyacinths, lilies, and colorful annuals.

START seeds of eggplants, tomatoes, and peppers indoors to get a head start on your summer barbecues.

WEED! After all the rainfall, weeds are proliferating. Start pulling them up or turning them under before seedpods set.

MARK your calendars for wine and books event benefiting Be the Star You Are!® charity on Saturday, April 9th from noon until 7 at Dawn’s Dream Winery Tasting room, NW Corner of 7th & San Carlos, Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Chinese fringe
Allow your surroundings to sink deeply into your soul. You have the power to bring beauty to your everyday environment.

Happy Gardening! Happy Growing! Happy Spring! (almost)
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Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at www.StarStyleRadio.com
Garden and plant consultations by appointment.

tulip, cinerara

Digging Deep-Gardening with Cynthia Brian

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Digging Deep-Gardening with Cynthia Brian

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Christmas trees come very close to exceeding nature.  ~Andy Rooney

When my children were youngsters, cutting a tree was the big event of the season. We’d don our Santa hats, grab a bundle of rope to tie the tree to the top of the car, put film in the camera, and off we’d go, singing Christmas carols while plotting our adventure. It could take hours walking through a farm, checking out tree after tree, debating the merits of each. Sometimes we’d visit two or three farms before finding the perfect one. Afterwards, at home with our freshly cut treasure, we’d light a fire, drink hot cocoa and eggnog, eat persimmon pudding and Italian panetone, put on the Christmas music, and dance around the house as we spruced the fir with popcorn and cranberry strings, homemade ornaments, tinsel, and of course, plenty of twinkling lights.

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One day my son had the bright idea that we should grow our own Christmas trees in order to have a never-ending supply of Yuletide enchantment. With the best planting season for evergreens between January and March, as soon as the small containers of conifers went on sale for $1.00 post holiday, we nabbed twenty for our forthcoming Christmas tree farm. We chose a prime spot at the top of our hill, prepared the plot, cleared the weeds, planted the seedlings, protected them with wire from marauding munchers, maintained soil moisture, and waited. The kids were very attentive to their trees. By year three, pruning and shaping the trees into conical forms began. Who knew that “Christmas trees” didn’t automatically grow into perfect Christmas specimens? By year seven, they cut their first glorious imperfect tree and by year thirteen all of the trunks were too large for any tree holder. Instead of cutting another tree, we potted a large Norfolk pine, added it to our entrance, where this oxygen producing, carbon dioxide absorber has served as our beloved arbre de Noel.

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History, legend, or a combination of the two chronicles the tales of 16th century Germans bringing evergreens into their homes as holiday decor after Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, witnessed the stars sparkling through the forest trees and cut a tree to enjoy indoors. In 2014, Christmas trees are as significant to American culture as apple pie. But it wasn’t until 1848 that Puritanical America embraced the idea of the “pagan” Christmas tree.  The ever-popular Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert were sketched with their children gathered around a decorated Christmas tree and East Coast society adopted this new fashionable trend. Currier and Ives jumped on the bucolic family festivity bandwagon by immortalizing vintage America in historic lithographs of cozy Christmas scenes including sleigh rides, crackling fires, candle lit chapels, snowmen, and tree decorating.

Yet, the love of winter evergreens was celebrated long before the arrival of Christianity. In ancient Egypt, the sun god Ra was honored on the longest night of the year,December 21, and the shortest day, December 22 with palm frond decorations to symbolize life over death. The Romans marked the solstice with evergreen boughs in anticipation of a prosperous spring. The Druids used greens as symbols of eternal life while the Vikings believed that evergreens were the chosen trees of their sun god, Balder.

With the advent of electricity, Thomas Edison presented the possibility of twinkling tree lights without as much fire danger from branch tied candles. Europeans preferred small trees of four feet, Americans sought plants that would reach the ceiling. Decorations in the early days included strands of nuts, berries, apples, and popcorn. Today, a fortune can be spent on accessories and unique ornaments fit for a king from hand carved Nativity scenes to hand blown glass angels.

When to buy, cut, and trim the tree vary from country to country. Many American families get into the December spirit immediately following Thanksgiving while many Europeans wait until Christmas Eve to launch their rituals. Evergreen garlands, boughs, ivy, mistletoe, wreaths, poinsettias, and holly join the enticing kitchen aromas of gingerbread, marzipan, and hot mulled wine making our Christmas castles merry and bright.

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Grown in all fifty states, Christmas tree farming is big business, although it is mostly small farmers who do the growing, planting as many as two thousand trees per acre. Seventy seven million trees are planted annually as American consumers purchase approximately 30 million farm grown trees valued at more than $1 billion.  Fresh trees (to me the only way to play) outsell artificial trees three to one. Young families who are starting their own traditions often prefer to cut-their-own at a Christmas tree farm, enjoying a day in search of the perfect tannenbaum, as our family did in years past.

As you banish the blues with the greens of a pine, fur, spruce, redwood, cedar, or cypress, you’ll be rewarded with the fresh fragrance of the wild woods. Remember to keep your cut tree watered as most farmed trees are chopped down in October or early November then trucked to the retailer. While they won’t dry out outdoors, once indoors, your specimen will need a quart to a gallon of water per day depending on the size.

This year, whether your tree was grown on a plantation or in your backyard, bring the botanical brilliance of a live tree into your seasonal festivities and celebrate the magic.

unnamed (8)

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,

Your branches green delight us!

Wishing you seasonal sparkle, glow forth to enjoy being home for the holidays.


Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Reminders

COOK with either fresh or dried herbs. You’ll need more when you use fresh. Dried are more potent. For every tablespoon of fresh herbs in a recipe, substitute 1 teaspoon of dried.

CREATE a stunning DIY holiday table arrangement using a combination of ornamental cabbage, lilies, evergreen branches, white roses, and pinecones.

LOOKING for a last minute gift that will be unique and useful? Check out your local garden retailers for holiday ideas, including a pot of drought resistant kalanchoe or a Christmas cactus in bloom.

TRIM low hanging branches of redwoods, pines, firs, and other evergreens to use in wreaths, garlands, and holiday ornamentation.

CARE for your land and your land will care of you. Our good earth is Mother Nature’s Christmas gift to us.

Happy gardening, happy growing, fa la la la la!

unnamed (9)

Cynthia Brian

Read more Lamorinda Weekly.


Cynthia Brian

The Goddess Gardener

Starstyle® Productions, llc




I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.

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

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