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Spring into March

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
Spring into March

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian

creeks in march.jpeghttp://lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1702/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-March-into-spring.html

By Cynthia Brian


“Rain, rain go away. Come again another day!” Nursery Rhyme


Do you remember being a child tired of the winter mud puddles and anxious to go outside to play? As much as California has needed the downpours, I find myself reminiscing about the dreariest, grayest, coldest winter of my childhood when my sisters and I decided to run away from the farm to find the sunshine. 


We were all under the age of five and on the first rainless day in March we loaded our big red wagon with the most essential items…our dolls, dinosaurs, pogo sticks, jump ropes, picture books, puzzles, miniature tool kit, hula hoops, Monopoly money (we thought it was real), rock collections, roller skates, and a shovel. Items like food, water, clothing, and blankets never crossed our minds. Our Mom handed us a bag of sandwiches, and Dad suggested we take our dog for protection. We kissed our parents goodbye and told them we were off to wonderland.


My garden is my wonderland, and I am antsy to start sowing. But, alas, the soil is still too damp and cold, so I have retreated to reading about resources for spring planning and planting. This is my way of marching into spring with increased knowledge while providing you with helpful information. 

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A book I highly recommend is by Susan Mulvihill, The Vegetable Garden Problem Solver Handbook, which is chock full of easy-to-understand data on how to identify and manage diseases and other common problems on edible plants with natural solutions. I interviewed her on my radio broadcast, StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® where you can listen to her advice. https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/142669/the-vegetable-garden-problem-solver-and-garden-guidance. Filled with hundreds of full-color photographs, many from her garden, and an extensive reference chart of problems with solutions, this book is an essential guide to pinpointing challenges and finding the answers quickly. A section on critters in the garden offers controls and strategies to outsmart the birds and mammals most often encountered.

As a garden communicator, I subscribe to a plethora of different catalogs, newsletters, and digital diaries, each one delivering a different perspective on how to design, create, and implement a cheerful landscape in any season.  Reading garden catalogs brings me great pleasure. Most include a parade of pictures of plants in their prime. When perusing these collections, I feel like a kid in a candy store. My mouth is agape, and I can’t get enough. 


You’ll find information on water-wise gardening, pollinators, ground covers, perennials, trees, patio plants, indoor décor, hanging baskets, arrangements, bouquets, seeds, bulbs, roses, azaleas, hydrangeas, shade gardens, herbs, vegetables, fruits, bird houses, ponds, garden accents, pottery, recipes, and more, depending on the publication. Make lists of your favorite specimens and products. Purchase locally at your favorite nursery or garden center, or order directly from the grower. Free shipping is often offered with purchases that total a certain amount of dollars.


Here are a few of my favorite catalogs and newsletters to whet your appetite.


American Meadows: www.AmericanMeadows.com

Baker Creek Heirloom seeds: www.RareSeeds.com

Bluestone Perennials: www.BlueStonePerennials.com

Botanical Interests: www.Botanicalinterests.com

Burpee Seeds and Plants: www.Burpee.com

Brent and Becky’s Bulb Growers: www.BrentandBeckysBulbs.com

Green Mantel Heirloom Plant Nursery: www.GreenMantelNursery.com

Gurneys Seed and Nursery:  www.Gurneys.com

High Country Gardens: www.HighCountryGardens.com

Jackson and Perkins: www.jacksonandperkins.com

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds: www.kitchengardenseeds.com

Lilipons Water Garden: https://lilypons.com

Monrovia Nursery Company: www.Monrovia.com

Nature Hills Online Plant Nursery: www.NatureHills.com

Nichols Garden Nursery: https://nicholsgardennursery.com

Plant Delights Nursery, Inc.: www.PlantsDelights.com

Proven Winners: www.ProvenWinners.com

Raintree Nursery: https://raintreenursery.com

Renee’s Garden: www.ReneesGarden.com

Seed Savers Exchange: www.seedsavers.org

Territorial Seed company: https://territorialseed.com

Urban Farmer Seeds: https://www.ufseeds.com

Wayside Gardens: www.WaysideGardens.com

White Flower Farm: www.WhiteFlowerFarm.com

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This directory is by no means exhaustive. Choose a few that speak to you and increase your horticultural education.

Being a gardener means being on a constant learning curve. No matter how much we know, we’ll never know enough. We may not be able to work in our gardens in the unpredictable inclement weather, but with the inventory of reading materials and online displays, we won’t need to run away to find the sunshine. Sit by the fire with a cup of herbal tea infused with lemon and mint to savor the sweetness of marching into spring.  There will be plenty of time for digging deeply in the next few months.

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You are probably wondering how my youthful runaway quest ended. 


My sisters and I did find paradise. We spent the day in a field of mustard plants that were taller than us. We created rooms, pretended we were pioneers, picked flowers, and as night descended, were spooked by coyotes as we huddled together stargazing with our dog keeping guard. We were sleeping soundly when our Dad came to get his girls. In the morning we awoke in our beds, the smell of Mom’s cooking wafting from the kitchen. At breakfast, we all agreed we had indeed found the Promised Land far, far away. Our parents listened with rapt attention as we shared stories of our exhilarating adventure to the land of sunshine and flowers. We didn’t realize that our enchanted faraway world was only a mile down the road, on our own property. We had never left our farm. 


Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Photos and more:” http://lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1702/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-March-into-spring.html

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Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia Brian 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. Her newest children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, from the series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures is available now at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store  For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and exclusive experiences, buy StarStyle® NFTs at https://StarStyleCommunity.com  Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com  https://www.GoddessGardener.com

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March On!

Posted by Cynthia Brian on
March On!

by Cynthia Brian

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.’ — Thomas Jefferson

Throw open your windows! Inhale the sweet smells of the blossoms. Bradford pears, cherry plums, crabapple, peach, and tulip magnolias are in full bloom.

Flocks of doves have begun their annual aerial acrobats, raptors are kettling in the warmer thermals, cows are happily grazing on the green grass, and bees are buzzing and pollinating.

The hills are emerald, the creeks are flowing, and sunny daffodils brighten our roadways. Spring is in the air!

As excited as I am to start sowing summer veggies, it is still too early. March is a month to peruse catalogs and groom our beds as nature’s winter slumber awakens. This is a month of garden transition with unpredictable weather, chilly mornings, warm afternoons, and frosty nights. Additional rain is necessary and anticipated.

With preparation and care, we can give our gardens a boost for spring by cleaning our garden beds. Remove dead leaves, branches, and debris that have accumulated over winter. By doing so we’ll prevent pests and diseases from invading while making our gardens tidier and ready for planting in April and May.

It seems that overnight my garden burst into bloom. The Amaryllis that I’ve been carefully tending opened its eyes to my delight.

Bright pink Bergenia is bigger and fuller this year and even the yellow shamrocks are already on display, pre-St. Patrick’s Day. Many gardeners find oxalis to be a noxious weed, but I welcome it in my landscape. It covers the barren soil with electric yellow flowers and delicate clover-like leaves. I find it very pretty, and I’ve been growing it for several years without it invading unwanted locations.

Purple bearded iris don’t last long in bouquets, yet they are stunning and fragrant in the garden. Poor man’s saffron, more commonly known as calendula, has self-seeded on my hillside in blooms of orange and yellow. Red, pink, and white cyclamen are stretching their buds between the ferns while azaleas transform the garden from dull to dazzling.

Winter is waning. The garden is marching on.


AMEND your soil with compost to add the nutrients necessary.

MAKE compost by combining green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) materials. To a bucket, bin, or pile, add coffee grinds, tea bags, chicken and rabbit droppings, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, straw, leaves, shredded newspaper, hay, dead plants, cardboard, and paper. Keep moist and turn. Do not use the animal waste from any carnivorous animals, including dogs and cats, and do not add diseased plants to the bin or pile.

CHECK irrigation systems. Repair leaks, clogs, and broken sprinkler heads.

START seeds indoors if you want a head start on growing your favorite vegetables. You will have to harden them off before planting in the garden.

FORAGE for wild greens including Miner’s lettuce, mustard, creek watercress, and wild strawberries. The young leaves are delicious in salads and sautées.

ORDER tubers and root starters from Renees Garden for the best selection of horseradish, potatoes, onions, and asparagus for spring planting.

FERTILIZE trees, shrubs, and ground covers with organic feed.

APPLY snail bait around plants most susceptible to snail and slug damage or handpick the mollusks.

SPRAY roses, boxwoods, viburnum, iris, fruit trees, citrus trees, and crape myrtle trees with dormant oil to protect them from overwintering insects and fungal disease.

HARVEST lemons, limes, and oranges. The extra vitamin C will boost your immunity during this cold and flu season.

SHARPEN and clean tools.

AERATE lawns while the nights are still cool. Leave the plugs on the grass to feed the grass.

PULL weeds as they sprout.

CUT bouquets of daffodils, narcissus, viburnum, flowering quince, and Bergenia to brighten any room.

DIVIDE perennials including daylilies, agapanthus, yarrow, and phlox while they are semi-dormant.

FLOAT camellias in a pretty bowl and dispose of all fallen camellias from bushes.

KILL aphids with a strong spray of water or spray with a mixture of water and dishwashing detergent. Make sure to spray all sides of foliage and flowers.

LEARN what to do in your garden every month with the book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, available at http://starstylestore.net

PLANT bare root roses, vines, and berry bushes.

PRUNE a branch of peach, plum, or pear and place the cutting in a tall vase to force the blooms for an enticing indoor arrangement.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. March in. March on.

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Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1701/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-March-In.html

Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia Brian 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.

Her newest children’s picture book, No Barnyard Bullies, from the series, Stella Bella’s Barnyard Adventures is available now at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store 

For an invitation to hang out with Cynthia for fun virtual events, activities, conversations, and exclusive experiences, buy StarStyle® NFTs at https://StarStyleCommunity.com

Hire Cynthia for writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures. Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com  http://www.GoddessGardener.com

©photos and text 2023 Cynthia Brian. All rights reserved.

Home (and garden) for the Holidays!

Posted by presspass on
Home (and garden) for the Holidays!

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By Cynthia Brian

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year!” Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

One sentiment was universal this season in the holiday cards and emails…hope for a safe, healthy, prosperous future. 2020 has been a year of enormous challenges, chaos, and crisis amid a frightening pandemic that rendered many people feeling hopeless and helpless. Even with shelter-in-place mandates and Zooming taking the place of “being there”, resilience will rule the roost as we celebrate at home during the holidays.

Gardening has seen a rise in popularity throughout this year as people craved fresh air while social distancing. Farm fresh food graced the city tables after fruits, vegetables, and herbs were planted by first time gardeners. Green thumbs were grown!

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Every day those who tend gardens work hand in hand with Mother Nature. As the Grand Dame, she is always in charge. Gardeners are her faithful stewards, nurturing the land that feeds our bodies while clothing our spirits with beauty, fragrance, and spiritual wellness. As the earth settles down for its winter nap, we also slow our pace in our outdoor spaces with preparations for the at-home holiday celebrations and a new year.

Being in a garden provides relief from stress and lowers blood pressure. Gardening transports us to another realm where nature charts the course. Even looking at a beautiful photograph of nature will enhance your mood and elevate your joy. 

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I have spent more hours in my garden these past few months than ever before. No matter how well I know my landscape, it is ever-changing, never ceasing to amaze and awe me. My body is getting extra exercise from hauling redwood chips to my barren hillsides to stop erosion and enrich the soil.

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When it began to rain, I fertilized and planted more perennials including guara and golden breath of heaven plus more bulbs for next season. Jonquils are already blooming with their heady fragrance wafting through the chillier air. Azaleas and rhododendrons have burst into bloom and the cyclamen pops with luminous colors.

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The delicate orange persimmons dangling from the almost leafless branches and the glimmering red pomegranates masquerading as ornaments hanging on the tree fill me with wonder at their annual holiday display. Both delicious and nutritious, they are my December garden gifts. 

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This is a good time to cut branches from redwood, pine, fir, or other low-hanging conifers to swag staircases and doors with fresh garlands. This practice accomplishes two goals: 1) you get free, fresh holiday greenery and 2) you are preventing future fire-laddering by removing the branches.

For those unable to celebrate in person with families scattered far and wide, this will be a quieter, less ebullient Christmas. Yet the magic of the season will buoy hearts as we anticipate a vaccine allowing us to gather in 2021. 

Devote a few hours to hoe, hoe, hoe and the melancholy of the past ten months will help you carol ho, ho, ho even while you observe the holidays home alone. 

Waving a magical virtual wand over your home and garden, I wish you a blessed, safe, and healthy holiday.

We’ll be together again next year with faith, hope, and love!

Happy gardening. Happy growing. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for December

  •  FERTILIZE trees, shrubs, and ground covers.
  •  APPLY snail bait to areas where slugs and snails do damage.
  •  SPREAD elemental sulfur to citrus, azalea, rhododendron, camellia, and hydrangea to lower the soil PH.
  •  DEEP feed smaller shrubs to accelerate growth in the gaps of hedges.
  •  ADD a swath of fluorescent red, white, or pink cyclamen to add pops of color to the winter landscape.
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  •  DEADHEAD roses to extend blooming until heavy pruning in January or if you prefer, allow the rosehips to form. Rosehips are a source of vitamin C and can be harvested for tea.
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  •  STUFF stockings with gardening goodies including a hand trowel, gloves, seeds, and a garden guide. Growing with the Goddess Gardener offers twelve months of helpful advice and comes with free seed packets and a relaxing CD. https;//www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store
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  •  CUT branches of berries from heavenly bamboo, cotoneaster, holly, or pyracantha to add to mantels and wreaths. 
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  •  RAKE leaves from lawns to keep them from matting.  
  •  MOVE mower to a higher cutting level and don’t mow when the ground is too wet.
  •  PROTECT tender plants from frost and freeze by moving potted plants inside or close to the house. 
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  •  BUY camellias now in the colors to suit your landscape décor while they are stocked as blooming specimens in nurseries.
  •  CUT back chrysanthemums to six inches after blooms fade.
  •  PLANT any remaining spring-blooming bulbs.
  •  CELEBRATE your home and garden for the holidays!
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Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1422/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Home-and-garden-for-the-holidays.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 best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

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




Tiny Sprouts!

Posted by presspass on
Tiny Sprouts!

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“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives. I rejoice when I see anyone, and especially children, inquiring about flowers, and wanting gardens of their own, and carefully working in them. For love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies, but always grows and grows to an enduring and ever-increasing source of happiness.”  Gertrude Jekyll

Watching the wide-eyed wonder of children during the holidays is an additional dividend of the magical season of Christmas. The twinkling lights, the tantalizing aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg, the joyful caroling tunes, and most of all, red-nosed Rudolph prancing through the night sky leading his herd of reindeer to the chimneys of good little girls and boys. 

December is a great month to spark children’s enthusiasm for gardening. The rewards go far beyond reaping a harvest of fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Not only do kids get to dig in the dirt, but it is also a plus if they get dirty.

Since families usually erect a Christmas tree or Hannukah Bush, it is fun to let each child grow her own tree. When my kids were young, we bought one-gallon pines, spruce, and firs to plant a Christmas tree farm. They watered, pruned, protected, and prepared the trees to be cut for our festivities. Although the trees never matched the symmetry of ones purchased from a lot, once they were festooned with all the homemade ornaments, they were uniquely beautiful. Most of all, the children were proud that they had grown this special tree all by themselves. They also each decorated a small growing Christmas tree for their bedrooms with sparkling lights on a timer that went off at bedtime. After the holidays, the tree went out to the patio, to be tended by them. 

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Teaching kids to garden instills responsibility, patience, love, creativity, tolerance, hope, and imagination. Their minds expand and they learn a deep appreciation for living organisms. By introducing them at a young age to the natural world, we are showing them how to respect and honor the environment. When we scrape vegetable scraps, eggshells, coffee grinds, fish bones, and other biodegradable items into a pail that we add to our outdoor compost bin, we are demonstrating the value of enriching the soil with natural, nontoxic substances. Ask your child to help you shovel woodchips into a wheelbarrow to add to the yard before winter storms arrive to prevent erosion, keep the soil warm, and provide an appealing appearance to your landscape.

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Every child needs to learn where her food comes from. Healthy eating habits are learned from the ground up. Add packets of seeds to a Christmas stocking with instructions for a private pot or plot to be planted in the spring. Stuff in a small field guide about growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Encourage dreaming of what crops to plant in the spring. You’ll be amazed at what kids will eat when they put in the effort of growing it. Brussel sprouts? Check! Broccoli? Check! Spinach? Check!

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Children are naturally curious and by keeping your nature talks short and fascinating, you’ll develop a gardener for life. Gardening is fun and it’s an excellent way to keep our bodies and spirits in optimum shape. While you are sowing the seeds of growing in the minds of young sprouts, you’ll also be planting resilience and acceptance. Failure is fertilizer. When something doesn’t grow, we throw it on the compost pile to grow a new garden next season. As a metaphor for life, our children are all going to flounder and fail. The teachable moment from Mother Earth is that there are no mistakes if we learn the lesson and fertilize for the future. 

Whether you are a big or tiny sprout, my gift is to pass on my love and knowledge of gardening with you. Dig it with your kids! 

Wishing you a jolly December of magic and marvel!

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Cynthia Brian’s Goddess Gardener Tips for Gardening with Kids

GIVE each child a pot or a plot of land to grow whatever they desire. When you give them the responsibility, they will rise to the task.

BUY size-appropriate tools. A hand trowel, rake, shovel, wheelbarrow, and bucket expressly for gardening chores gives a child a sense of accomplishment. Don’t forget the garden gloves!

SUPPLY seeds that are easy to grow. Include vegetables such as carrots, radishes, beets, and lettuces, and some pretty flowers like sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds, and calendulas.

MAKE it fun by showing them how to use chopsticks to plant seeds.

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BUY small two-to-four-inch containers of herbs for a windowsill garden. Dill, mint, sage, parsley, and oregano are simple to grow and can be snipped for pizza, spaghetti, and soups that put smiles on their faces.

GROW thornless succulents including ice-plant, aloe vera, echeveria, and jade that require very little water or care.

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PLANT theme gardens with your kids. Everyone loves butterflies and a Butterfly Garden will encourage kids to watch the evolution of nature from creeping caterpillar to graceful flyer. Include alyssum, butterfly bush, coreopsis, asters, salvias, Lamium, milkweed, penstemons, lavender, and snapdragons. Other ideas include a Pizza Garden with everything except the pepperoni and cheese, a sensory garden of plants with texture, taste, smell, sound, and beauty. Or how about a 24-Hour Garden where each of the plants blooms at a different time? Use morning glories for the A.M., four o’clock for the afternoon, evening primrose for early evening, and moonflowers for the night.  If you have the room, one of my favorites is a Pie Orchard with peaches, apricots, cherries, pears, and a berry patch. Or two gardens my own kids loved were the Christmas Tree Farm which they left-over small pots of live trees, spruce, pine, and fir, and the Halloween Cemetery of various types, colors, sizes, and textures of gourds and pumpkins.

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SHARE plant and seed catalogs with your little sprouts. Let them select photos they find enticing and read to them the descriptions. Follow up with a socially-distanced, masked-wearing field trip to a nursery or garden center to investigate the various specimens.

ALLOW kids to experiment and design their own spaces. Rows don’t have to be in straight lines. Eliminate adult ideas of perfection and instead shoot for enthusiasm and curiosity.


GIFT a magnifying lens to your child so she can get up close and personal with leaves, flowers, stamens, and bugs.

MARVEL at the soil workers. Examine the worms and insects. 

WALK around your fall landscape to choose colorful leaves for festive displays and to press into Christmas cards. 

HELP them decorate for the holidays with natural berries and branches. Pyracantha, cotoneaster, and holly are filled with red berries. Wear gloves and offer help with the prickly holly and pyracantha.

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BE CREATIVE by making garden art from steppingstones to scarecrows! My daughter painted a funny face on a broken rake that still guards our vegetable garden.

DOWNLOAD FREE coloring books to let kids color their world. There are 7 different ones, all with botanical art that is simple and appropriate for little sprouts. https://bit.ly/39CnSDv

Happy gardening. Happy growing. Happy December. 

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1421/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Young-sprouts.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 best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. Receive a FREE BONUS of an inspirational music DVD.

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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




Fall Fireworks

Posted by presspass on
Fall Fireworks


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“Let the beauty we love be what we do.” 


Sitting on my balcony, watching the ginger orb of the sun shoot sparkles and glitter throughout the dusky sky, I am besotted with the fireworks of fall foliage on the horizon. The colors and intensities change daily as I attempt to capture the essence of their beauty in my camera lens.

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A red-branched Japanese maple is glimmering gold one day. Four days later it is pumpkin spice orange. My liquid amber tree leaves are progressing from buttery blonde to tangy tangerine to burning scarlet. Even the green vegetation on my lamium has turned magenta. My garden is a display of fall fireworks. 

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It’s been a busy year. Since the onset of the pandemic, every day I have worked many hours to improve my landscape: pruning dead limbs, repairing stairs, rebuilding arches, eradicating weeds, planting new specimens, fertilizing, firescaping, re-seeding, and adding amendments. After re-seeding my lawns, I covered the grass with enriched soil which will bolster root establishment. My back aches from the yards of amendments I’ve wheelbarrowed to the garden beds and there is still more to shovel.

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To provide a respite from the labor, I added a bench on my hill overlooking my recently cleared oak tree meadow. The creek will flow during the winter but for now, it’s relaxing to sit for a bit to watch the deer munching on the shoots sprouting after the recent rains and the squirrels scampering about collecting acorns. Peace and serenity increase my gratitude for living in such bucolic surroundings where I can breathe fresh air and listen to the sounds of silence. It’s quiet that is until the wild turkeys descend and start a raucous. Several Toms started fighting with the hens squawking a few feet away. Thanksgiving has arrived!

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When I planted the three vines of wisteria, grape, and pink bower on my pergola, it was an experiment in competition. All three are aggressive growers, but I was certain that the victor would be the wisteria who would choke the other two. I’m glad that I’m not a betting woman, or I would have lost. 

Much to my sheer delight, after fifteen years of cohabitation, the three have become symbiotic siblings supporting one another’s expansion. The three vines have intertwined and mingled in the magnolia, fruitless pear, and loquat tree creating a beautiful privacy screen that frames my backyard. Each boasts distinctive features. The wisteria and the grape are deciduous and will shed their colorful autumn leaves soon while the bower vine is evergreen with blooming pink flowers. In winter, the shiny bright green foliage of the bower vine covers the bare branches of the other two. In spring, the wisteria bursts into glorious purple blooms followed by the bud break of the grapevine. Throughout the summer months, their leaves cover the pergola with much-needed shade and in September, I harvest grapes. What a fruitful collaboration of nature.

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Today as I was doing a final edit of this column, the sky clouded gray and the waterworks flowed. How thrilling to finally have rain! I put on my rain boots, hoodie, and slicker to fertilize the grass and I finished covering the patio furniture. Winter is a mere four weeks away, yet I still have a few more autumn tasks to accomplish including planting additional bulbs on the hillside. Daffodils from previous years have already sprouted and will begin blooming in December. With the ground moist, digging is easier.

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After three hectic seasons of heavy garden exertion, I am looking forward to listening to the rain as I read a book in front of a blazing fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate. For now, I’ll savor the fireworks of the glowing fall leaves from my balcony.

Happy gardening. Happy growing. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Cynthia Brian’s End of November Garden Guide

PROTECT patio furniture by covering with machine-washable covers or clear plastic or put away for the winter in a storage shed.

DIG bulbs now. Bulbs that do well in our area, including tulips, crocus, daffodils, are available in nurseries and garden centers.


PHOTOGRAPH the changing colors of the autumn trees and shrubs.

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RAKE leaves and add to your compost pile.

TOP DRESS garden with mulch and amendments.

mulch-walt whitman soil amendment.jpeg

PULL out dead annuals.

DEADHEAD roses to continue the blooming season.

ADD solar-powered, weather-resistant garden lights to illuminate paths for winter darkness.

CLEAN gutters and make sure downspouts are unclogged. 

FIX vent screens, broken foundation, and roof shakes and remove brush and wood piles from the perimeter of your house to deter mice and rats from building their winter abode.

REPAIR garden tools and equipment before storing. 

MOVE containers of frost-prone plants to a covered area near the house or wrap with burlap.

THANK YOU for being such dedicated readers of Digging Deep. I wish you a very healthy and happy Thanksgiving.

Happy thanksgiving (1).jpeg

Photos an more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1420/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fall-fireworks.html

cynthia brian.jpeg

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

cynthia brian's books.jpg

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



#autumn,#leaves,#amendments,#outdoors,##nature,#gardening, #cynthiabrian, #starstyle, #goddessGardener, #growingwiththegoddessgardener, #lamorindaweekly

As the Leaves Turn

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As the Leaves Turn

cyn-birdhouse-fall colors.jpeg

“A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s only five in the evening and the darkness of night has arrived. I’ve been out in the garden prepping the soil as the sun sets and the moon rises. Normally by this time of the year, I would have had all my spring bulbs and perennials planted and my lawn re-seeded. But we have had no rain and the daytime temperatures are still too warm to guarantee any success with these normal autumn chores.

My clay soil is clod dry and needs amending. I originally bought several bags of nutrient-rich soil, but soon realized that my garden required a truckload. I had ten yards of a high nutrient amendment comprised of compost, green waste, rice hulls, and chicken manure delivered to replenish the earth before planting. Although it will take me some time to add this fertility to my soil, my lawn, trees, established and new plants will be thanking me.

mulch-walt whitman soil amendment.jpeg

As the world turns the leaves on our deciduous trees to reds, ambers, and golds, this is a perfect time to replenish your mulch and enrich your soil. If your garden is small, you can buy bags of amendments at your garden center or hardware store, but if you have a large property as I do, it is best to order a truckload. Most bags of mulch or compost are comprised of one to three cubic feet. Truckloads are sold by the yard. One cubic yard is 27 cubic feet making a truckload massively less expensive, although more wheelbarrow and muscle intensive. A variety of mixtures are available including aged wood fines, grape compost, sandy loam, red lava, and fir bark. All will help loosen clay soils and all will provide moisture retention, erosion control, and fertilization to landscapes before winter arrives. Be aware that when used in containers, runoff may cause stains. 

I consider these special soils to be the best friends in my garden. As with building a house, the strength of the foundation of your garden will ultimately determine the success of your plantings. Besides spreading this mulch throughout my property, my plan is to mow my lawn, water it deeply, scatter lawn seed, and cover with a layer of this rich amendment. By adding these nutrients now, my garden will be ready for a winter nap and re-emerge in spring in full glory.

The changing of the colors of autumn leaves is later this year than any previous year. My trees usually begin their transformation in October, but this year, I began witnessing the stunning procession in November. The deep reds we witness are a result of an increase in the sugar content while the yellows are a diminishment of chlorophyll due to the sunny days of autumn combined with the cooler evening temperatures. Most people believe it is the changing of seasons that cause the leaves to turn. Although the chilly nights do deserve some credit for the rapid foliage change, the true reason that the leaves change color is dependent on species and environment.  Japanese maples, dogwoods, liquid ambers, and some species of crepe myrtle appear flaming while redbud, ginkgo, birch, apple, wisteria, and larch shimmer in yellows and gold. Oaks change to russet, Chinese pistache herald pumpkin orange hues. 

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My personal favorite is to watch the veins on the leaves of my grape vines change from deep greens to multi-hued magnificence.

Grape leaves turning color.jpeg

Also, Boston ivy and Virginia creeper offer dazzling autumn shades. They secrete calcium carbonate which creates an adhesive pad that allows them to attach to walls.  If you wander the creeks or hillsides, beware of poison oak as it is one of the most gloriously colored vines of autumn melding crimson, sienna, and scarlet. As the days grow shorter and the nights linger longer, the biochemical process paints nature’s landscape with a sunset palette. Cut a few branches from your favorite specimens to create indoor autumn displays. I also dry Japanese maple and liquid amber leaves and add them to my fall potpourri mixes. 

fall vine-boston ivy.jpeg

As leaves fall to the ground, rake them into your compost pile. The decomposition replenishes the nutrients in your soil. Dispose of diseased or bug-infested leaves, such as those that have peach leaf curl, rust, or aphids.  

As the growing season comes to an end, collect the seedpods from companion flowers to attract beneficial insects for next season’s plantings including dill, caraway, anise, alyssum, marigolds, calendulas, sunflowers, zinnias, hollyhock, and nasturtium. Dry them on cookie sheets or in plain brown paper bags providing plenty of air circulation. Store in paper bags, labeling with name and date. You’ll be ready to plant the seeds next spring. The goal is to attract beneficial insects, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds and keep them alive and healthy.

To crank up the curb appeal to your home, include colorful containers of mums or design an autumn arrangement of gourds and pumpkins at your front entrance. Thanksgiving is fast approaching and even if we won’t be hosting our normal festivities, our neighbors will enjoy the picture-perfect personality. 

curbside appeal-mums.jpeg

Discover your nature friends and applaud them as masterpieces. 

Cynthia Brian’s Digging Deep Gardening Guide for November

BUY soil amendments by the bag or by the yard to enrich your soil before winter rains.

VISIT your local nursery to choose shrubs, trees, and bushes with colorful deciduous leaves that you want to showcase in your garden. 

wisteria vine turning yellow.jpeg

DEADHEAD rose blooms to encourage a couple more budding flourishes before January pruning.

DIVIDE daylilies, bearded iris, and plant spring-blooming bulbs.

PRUNE dead branches from small trees and call an arborist to check larger specimens.

FERTILIZE roses, citrus, and begonias,

RAKE leaves into a compost pile or bin. 

RESEED tired lawns.

top dressing on lawn.jpeg

HARVEST apples. 


ADD shredded newspaper to your compost pile. The zinc in the ink adds nutrients and the paper will decompose.

ROOT winter crop seedlings. I planted Brussel sprouts, Swiss chard, sugar snap peas, and kale and sowed seeds of arugula, greens, and lettuce. 

©THROW seeds of a cover crop over vegetable gardens to restock nutrients for next season. Vetch, clover, mustard, beans, and peas are excellent choices. 

MAINTAIN fire precautions around the perimeter of your property and home as fire season is still with us. 

PREPARE your birdhouses for overwintering feathered friends. 

See Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1419/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-As-the-leaves-turn.html

History is Made: https://blog.voiceamerica.com/2020/11/11/history-is-made-healing-is-necessary-have-hope/

Happy Growing. Happy Gardening.

Cynthia Brian


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 best-selling books, including, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg. 


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




Halloween, Nature’s Way

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Halloween, Nature’s Way

Alley of pumpkins.jpeg

“Listen to them–the children of the night. What music they make!” Bram Stoker

During this season, life is about the kids. This is a time of magic, wonder, and things that go bump in the night. Halloween has always been a favorite holiday for most children in the United States but this year, Halloween, the way it has been celebrated for decades, is canceled. 

kaylee in cantealope Halloween costume-monster.jpeg

No random trick or treating, no gatherings, no haunted parties.

Since school has been online, kids yearn to get together to socialize with a bit of raucous fun and CANDY. With Covid-19 isolation, this year’s Halloween is going to be different…very, very different.

For weeks families have been brainstorming innovative ideas to provide a safe, yet enjoyable experience for their children. Although most everyone has probably decided how to celebrate, I’d like to add a bit of nature to the mixture.

When I was raising my two children, Halloween was always a major event, but not in the way that most kids participate. Every year our family would join with two other families to enjoy a full weekend of scary festivities in a circa 1900 Victorian in the middle of an isolated mountain forest that had been in the family of our friend for over 80 years. The drive to get to our destination was on a bumpy, winding, pot-holed road, with gnarled trees that jutted out of nowhere and deep canyons that could be perilous to the amateurish driver. The ride alone was frightening! 

The house had no electricity (unless we used a generator) and the water was pumped from the creek. We always began our adventure with a hike to pick wildflowers and gather feathers, branches, colored leaves, and grasses to make decorations. Sometimes, we’d saddle the horses on the property to carry our bounty,

The landscape boasted a big vegetable garden that enthralled the kids. “What do you want for dinner?” we’d ask. Each child would grab a basket to pick their favorite vegetables. The fun began with the children helping to prepare our evening meal. On Halloween, we’d start the day picking apples in the orchard. We’d take the apples to the barn where we’d press them into apple cider, saving some to make apple pies. We would also play a fun game, Bobbing for Apples, giving prizes to the winner. (Not a recommended activity during this pandemic!)

Next was the pumpkin carving. Each person was given a pumpkin to carve or decorate. We saved seeds for roasting and some for planting in the spring. Again, the kids would go to the vegetable garden to pick their favorite vegetables. We’d craft with our found nature treasures and decorate the “haunted house”. Everyone would get dressed in their home-made costumes, followed by our Halloween feast.

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Of course, the best was yet to come. The kids, all decked out in their Halloween regalia, couldn’t wait. 

Trick or treating! 

All the lights would be extinguished except for lanterns and candles. Darkness dropped with the haunting sounds of the night and a bit of help from the hidden boombox. One parent corralled the kids on the porch as the rest of the costumed parents hid behind doors of the house with bags of candy. On “go”, the kids ran door to door knocking, shouting “trick or treat”.  An adult would jump out with a trick and fill their Halloween bag. After all the treats were distributed, like all kids, the trading and negotiating for candy began.

And, after the youngsters were totally exhausted, (and probably on a sugar high), we adults would celebrate Halloween, too.

The fond memories of these sacred Halloween traditions can be easily translated to our current situation with Covid-19 to ensure a safe and memorable Halloween. This year Halloween is on a Saturday. Make a weekend of it!

If you have a pod of people that you are already socializing with because you are all social distancing, one family could host the Halloween party. Or, make the Halloween event virtual to include more people. 

  •  Plan and prepare a meal together. 
  •  Dress in costume. 
  •  Buy a few bales of hay to create a maze. (The hay can be used in the garden afterward as top dressing.)
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  •  Carve or paint pumpkins. 
  •  Save seeds for roasting and spring planting. 
  •  Bake bread with menacing faces. 
  • PumpkinsCarved-Bread -Halloween - 4.jpeg
  •  Make a candy shoot out of PVC to send candy from one person to another yard. 
  •  How about a slingshot to catapult candy across the street to your friends? 
  •  For those with gardens, employ the kids to pick vegetables and fruits that are festive and fun. For example, guavas are self-harvesting now, so if someone has a guava tree, try a new recipe. 
  • self harvessting guavas.jpeg
  •  Have a nature scavenger hunt followed by a mask making shindig with found elements: feathers, bark, twigs, flowers, acorns, pebbles, leaves, and more. 
  •  Press apples to make a brew of witch cider.
  •  Visit a pumpkin patch with social distancing.
  •  Add a tiny pumpkin to an autumn floral bouquet.
  • Bouquet with pumpkin .jpeg
  •  Howl at the moon with the coyotes!  
  •  Hoot with the owls.

Adults can hide in closets, bathrooms, or behind any doors. Just make sure to have the treats and a few tricks! Make sure to include the spooky tunes. 

Finally, don’t forget the candy swap. Whether it is in person or virtual, swapping candy is an age-old tradition that every kid adores. Don’t forget the toothbrushes! 

Wearing a mask is always appropriate on Halloween and this year it takes on special meaning. Be creative and safe.  Make masks!


Shake your broomsticks. A ghoulish, ghostly midnight jamboree may be right outside in Mother Nature at the witching hour. It’s time for some hocus pocus. 

Have a secure and joyful nature’s Halloween.

Happy gardening. Happy growing. Make sure to VOTE!

Nature’s Halloween: yellow mums.jpeg


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

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpghttps://www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store.

Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



#october,,#pandemic,,#outdoors,#halloween,#nature,#ghouls,#ghosts,  #gardening, #cynthiabrian, #starstyle, #goddessGardener, #growingwiththegoddessgardener, #lamorindaweekly

Sheltering with Mother Nature

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Sheltering with Mother Nature

house of friend-fall.jpeg

Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian 

Sheltering with Mother Nature

“Too blessed to be stressed!” Bumper sticker

By Cynthia Brian

Are you feeling more in touch with Mother Earth as we near the beginning of eight months of stay-at-home mandates because of Covid-19? Or are you feeling antsy, stressed, and out-of-sorts? Retreating to our landscapes was initially a salve to the pain of the corona virus, social unrest, and political nastiness as we encountered improved air quality, quieter skies, and increased bird activity. Then the California fires arrived bringing choking smoke, scorching heat, and black ash. An additional layer of frazzle to our daily lives multiplied because we were unable to spend time in our gardens or outdoors for any reason.

In normal times, I work in the garden daily. It is an extension of my home, a serene, yet wild place where I am most creative and 100% myself. Every morning I walk through my property, a mug of java in hand, giving thanks for the beauty, solitude, and bounty of my magical oasis. Getting my hands in the dirt soothes my soul. I lose track of time as I weed, prune, trim, fertilize, water, and bite into a crunchy apple straight off the tree. I come up with the best ideas for my books, columns, radio shows, and lectures. Before they float away with the wind. I race to write my thoughts down.


As a fire prevention strategy, I have been clearing the brush and understory plants from my creeks when the air permits. If you live near open space, hills, or creeks, make sure to take time to remove dead trees, limbs, and brush as we have at least another month of fire season. Leave a couple of small brush piles as habitat for owls. Owls dine on a smorgasbord of voles, mice, rats, and other rodents that wreak havoc in the garden. A family of owls can devour several thousand rodents during the nesting season with the young eating as many as four per night. Add a nesting box 15 feet off the ground to a branch of an older tree. When you invite owls into your landscape, you won’t have to use harmful poisons, plus their hooting sound is calming.

Clear brush and trees.jpeg

Since sheltering in Mother Nature has been impossible these past two months, I find myself exhausted, jittery, tense, and concerned for the future of our country and our planet.  For me, this means getting creative about the sensory experience that being outdoors provides and bringing those familiar feelings and scents indoors. If we can’t be in Mother Nature, let’s shelter with Mother Nature.

Here are some things you can do to relieve stress, feel energized, and rebalanced.

  1. 1. TAP into the sounds of nature on your favorite radio network.  Listening to the trickling of a creek, the rushing of a river, or the pounding of ocean waves is relaxing. Or tune in to the cooing doves or the whistling cockatiels. Nature sounds quiet our beating hearts and quiets our blood pressure. 
  2. 2. CREATE a bedtime spray that will alter your emotional and physiological mood. Gather fragrant roses petals and lavender in a glass jar. Pour boiling water over the petals, cover, and allow to sit in the sun for several hours to make a floral tea. Add a couple of drops of alcohol and pour the concoction into a sprayer. Spray your pillow before going to bed. Lavender alleviates tension and the fragrance of roses stimulates your immune system. You’ll slumber soundly. Experiment with other florals. Jasmine mitigates anxiety and bergamot increases positivity while reducing stress. 
  3. 3. EAT fresh. Harvest fruits, herbs, and vegetables as needed. Instead of picking a bushel of tomatoes, only pick what you need immediately. Apples, figs, beets, radishes, arugula, eggplant, and peppers are ripe.
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  5. 4. PICK a bouquet of fall blooming flowers such as Black-eyed Susan or echinacea to lessen anxiety. Add a small branch of pistache as it turns red.  Just seeing fresh flowers and colorful leaves intensifies luxury and joy.
  6. Black-eyed susans.jpeg
  7. 5. ADD a small, desktop fountain to your office. Watching the movement of the water and hearing the tinkling helps bring the outdoors in.
  8. 6. LOOK at photos of nature. Everywhere I go, I snap pictures of nature scenes that inspire me. When I’m feeling blue, I check out the green.
  9. 7. COLLECT reminders of the outdoors to showcase indoors. Turkeys are leaving their beautiful feathers in yards as they peck at the autumn seeds. Pinecones and acorns are dropping as squirrels stash treasures for winter.  Make a fall arrangement to touch and admire. 
  10. 8. PAINT a pumpkin with glitter and glamour. We’ll have the second full moon of the month on October 31st. Bring on the sparkle!
  11. Glittery pumpkin.jpeg
  12. 9. PLACE a pot of mums on your patio, porch, or balcony to admire through a window. 
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  14. 10. BUY any book from my website at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store and besides the extra seeds and goodies you will receive, I will send you a FREE musical CD to help you relax and re-balance. 

Despite what our current leader says, the coronavirus will not be going away any time soon. We must continue to only listen to the scientists and heed the warnings of the medical establishment who have the training to understand these dire circumstances. The pandemic does not favor a political party. It recognizes no boundaries. We must be vigilant, diligent, savvy, and continue to wear masks, employ social distancing, and shelter-in-place as much as possible. When the air is clear, spend time outside. Hike, bike, walk, stroll, run, swim, and garden. 

The leaves are starting to change into their glorious fall wardrobe. Autumn is a prime time for planting, but don’t risk your health on red-alert or spare-the-air days. There is plenty of time to plant bulbs, trees, and reseed or install lawns as temperatures will be warm into November.

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We live in a beautiful area and are indeed too blessed to be stressed. Vote for decency and respect as you shelter with Mother Nature. I wish you peace, tranquility, and good health as we weather these disasters together.

Savor a sunset. Happy growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1417/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Sheltering-with-Mother-Nature.html

cynthia Brian-pergola.jpeg

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 c, celebrating 21 years of service to the community. www.BetheSTARYouAre.org. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her best-selling books and receive extra freebies including a FREE relaxation CD., Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! series at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

cyntha brian with books SM copy.jpg

Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.




Risky Business

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Risky Business

Ripe rieber grapes.jpeg

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from a cornfield.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

When you bite into a crunchy apple, eat a bunch of juicy grapes, or slather butter on roasted sweet corn, unless you’ve grown these crops in your personal garden, do you ever wonder about the life of the farmer who provides you with your food? To grow healthy, nutritional produce, farmers work daily, rain or shine, in every season, to provide city dwellers with sustenance. They get paid when they sell their harvest, yet it only takes one natural disaster to destroy their year-long labors and erase the opportunity for remuneration.

Farming is a risky business.

A few times when I was a child, our family suffered the fate of a failed harvest. The culprit was usually a heavy rain mildewing the fruit before it could be picked.  This year, the demon was the horrific fires with the unending days of suffocating smoke that smoke-tainted the grapes. 100% of our Cabernet Sauvignon will hang on the vines to rot because they cannot be pressed and made into wine. The smoke-taint is so pervasive that the taste of eating a single grape is like licking an ashtray. Most growers of red grapes throughout Northern California are suffering the same fate. There will be no check in the mail. A full year of blood, sweat, and tears up in smoke, literally!

AUGUST 20, 2020 Lake David fire.jpeg

With global warming and climate change, farms are going to fail.  Food insecurity will become more prevalent, even in abundant America. In the face of natural, financial, and social crisis, now more than ever, we all need to learn to be food resilient by reconnecting to the land and growing our own to supplement what we buy. Urban agriculture is a buffer to economic instability building resilience through biodiversity and organic gardening practices.

Quavas growing.jpeg

Autumn has arrived and with it the optimal time to plan before planting. Start small. Plant densely and use crop rotation for seasonal vegetables. Intermingle flowers and vegetables.  Plants need water or they will suffer and die. Until the rains come, you will need to observe your plantings to ascertain that seeds and roots are not drying out. Before you begin your planting process, planning is essential.

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How to Plan to Succeed in Planting

PREPARE your soil. Add aged manure and compost to improve absorption.

GROUP plants according to their watering needs. A succulent garden requires very little water. Astilbe and ferns require substantial H20.

CONSIDER the best time to plant. You want your plants to establish a strong root system while the soil is still warm, yet the days are cooler, but before the winter freeze arrives.

MULCH with two or three inches to retain moisture, slow the growth of weeds, and prevent erosion.  This can be shredded newspaper, bark, grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, stone, or pebbles.

FERTILIZE right before it rains so that the fertilizer absorbs into the roots and the soil.

Vegetarians seeking protein through plant-based items can choose to plant lentils, beans, spinach, chickpeas, broccoli, white cabbage, spring greens, and figs. My tiny cherry pear tomatoes are flourishing amongst the Amaryllis Belladonna and the Jacobinia in a planter box outside my kitchen window.

tomatoes growing with amaryllis belladona and jacobinia.jpeg

When nothing much is colorful in the garden except the roses, sage, and crape myrtles, it’s marvelous to be able to pluck a few cherry tomatoes for a salad and three stalks of Amaryllis Belladonna for a flower arrangement from the same plot. I like using the multi-colored pistache berries in arrangements in the fall, but squirrels and turkeys are also claiming them as their favorite dinner. 

Pistache berries.jpeg

Farming is not easy but becoming a backyard farmer will be rewarding and supply your family with enough produce to sustain you during good and bad times. Even a little self-sufficiency with your gardening endeavors will lower your risk of food shortages.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for October

PLANT clover in your lawn or as a cover crop as it grabs oxygen from the air and stores it in the soil. Birds pecking at your lawn are not eating it. They are dining on insects that could be harmful to your lawn. The birds are your friends indicating that your lawn has an invader.

RESEED lawns or install sod. If your soil is too acidic, add lime for balance. Grasses require a moderate pH between 5.8 and 7.2.

MAKE a bouquet of whatever is blooming in your garden. Russian sage and Japanese maple leaves add texture and color as do the green, blue, and rose-colored pistache berries.

bouquet-Russian Sage, Amaryllis Belladonna, Japaense Maple.jpeg

SAMPLE your grapes and make sure they aren’t smoke-tainted.

DIG and divide iris rhizomes in October. Make sure to keep a few inches of the leaves on the stems and bury the roots two inches deep, eighteen to twenty inches apart.

EXPERIMENT by planting a variety of lettuces to keep your salads fresh all season. You can even plant in a pot on a sunny windowsill and snip often. Clip the microgreens as they sprout for delicate, delicious delights.

GROUP vegetables and flowers together, especially in small spaces for maximum production.

ADD a splashing fountain to attract the birds, hummingbirds, and entertain you.

fountain-birdbath, garden.jpeg

CLEAR creek beds, hillsides, and property of dead branches and debris as fire prevention.

PRUNE your berry bushes, including summer raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries by removing dead canes, thinning new canes, weeding around the plant, then mulching with wood chips to keep the weeds out and the nutrients in.

JOIN the Lafayette Garden Clubs Zoom presentation where I’ll be speaking on Thursday, October 8th. For more information visit https://www.lafayettegardenclub.com/calendar

WALK in nature when you feel stressed to kick up your cognitive performance. A stroll through a park, a jog onClear brush and trees.jpeg a trail (wear or bring a mask), or a simple skip through your back yard will do wonders for your mental fatigue.

Happy gardening. Happy growing.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1416/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Risky-business.html

cynthia brian-crape myrtle.jpeg

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 best-selling books and receive extra freebies, Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Cynthia is available for virtual writing projects, garden consults, and inspirational lectures.



View of Crape Myrtle-Fall from balcony.jpeg

Fall is Now!

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Fall is Now!

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“Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”

Thomas Paine

MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

Booth at Pear Festival with CIn normal times, today I would be celebrating the beginning of fall with our volunteers at our BTSYA booth at the Pear and Wine Festival where we would be providing fun activities for children, giving away books to increase literacy, and encouraging positivity. This gathering is a time to celebrate our “harvest” of serving the community, country, and world. Every year our booth has been sponsored by Andy and Wendy Scheck, publishers of the Lamorinda Weekly newspaper where I have been a columnist since 2008. Because of Covid-19, all in-person activities and events have been canceled so the Lamorinda Weekly decided to honor our autumn festivities by sponsoring this newsletter. We are grateful.

So much has occurred in the last month that it is mind-boggling. Deadly towering infernos, thirty days of red alerts and save-the-air days, falling ash, smoke-taint on red grapes, civil unrest, political nastiness, and all in the midst of the pandemic. I’ve been busy (and sadly) moving out of our office building where Be the Star You Are!® has been headquartered for the past twenty-one years.

As part of Operation Disaster Relief, we have donated over $3500 of brand new books and other goods to survivors of the California fires. We have also provided radio interviews and publicity to authors, actors, artists, and others who have had all of their personal engagements canceled due to the coronavirus. Our Star Teen Book Review volunteers have written hundreds of book reviewsto help children, teens, parents, teachers, and others discover the love of reading. We have welcomed several youth to be content providers, adding their unique voices to the public conversation. We’ve trained teens join our radio family as journalists and radio reporters.

I have never been a political person. Since the time I could vote, I have never voted a party line. As a history major, I read all the materials, vet the source, study the issues with care and caution, then vote for the people, programs, and policies that I believe will best serve the citizens of our nation. This election season is the volatile, derisive, and divisive. It seems we are on the verge of another civil war. I urge you to study the ballot carefully. Cast your vote for decency, respectability, and for the people who will empower our country, not divide it. The world is watching. Americans are waiting. Thomas Paine was astute in his words.

Be brave, be smart, be strong. Do your part. WEAR A MASK! VOTE!

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556




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DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


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Author, John Layne will gallop into the 2021 season of StarStyle® Radio with Red River Reunion a classic Western Fiction novel set in 1877 Texas. It follows U.S. Marshal Luxton Danner and Texas Ranger Wes Payne on their mission to seek out and eliminate the vicious outlaw threat on the banks of the Red River. They risk everything to defend the settlers and uphold frontier law. Encountering tragic circumstances along the way, the duo band together with the settlers to survive, thrive and create a safe and prosperous future for all. Fans of Layne’s distinctive style will enjoy his rich characters and period details that bring the Old West back to life. www.johnlaynefiction.com.

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Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio is thrilled to welcome two new reporters to our roster, Maggie Campione and Nihal Gill.

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Maggie Campione is a seventh grade student and passionate about theater, reading, public speaking and most importantly, helping others. Her segment is called “The American Connection.” where she will present stories about community connections and staying united during difficult times. Listen to her segment beginning on October 4, 2020.

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Nihal Gill, sophomore at Turlock High School loves to play golf and is on the THS varsity golf team.  His love for music is expressed through the piano and with his love for robotics he created a non-profit called “Project Spark” to reach out to young elementary students to teach them STEM/Robotics through hands-on kits, and coding.  He incorporates the four aspects of STEM into his once a month community classes. His segment is entitled Spark the Interest. He’ll introduce topics that are important for health and wellness for teens all over the world. Nihal will debut on October 28th.


by Karen Kitchel 

Catch a glimpse of leaves turning golden.

     Stroll down a less traveled path.

          Inhale the scent of a new season.

               Remember this amazing autumn day!

Karen Kitchel who penned two chapters in the book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World, is the Kindness Coordinator volunteer with BTSYA. She serves meals to the homeless and is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor. www.scatteringkindness.com

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Our content writer volunteers speak up and speak out by writing about what  is on the minds of the youth and adults of our country. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
A judge who will never be forgotten

By Sarah McClenaghan

On September 18, 2020, America lost one of the most rememberable judges’ in the Supreme Court to pancreatic cancer: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was an associate justice for many years and made a difference in our country. During her time in court, she was known to argue for gender equality, fight for women’s rights, contributed to civil rights, as well as the rights of workers and supported the separation of church and state.

Women would not be where they are without Ginsburg’s influence in Supreme Court, but she also made an impact on men. It is true she was a role model for women across the country, but men had the opportunity to learn from her leadership, her determination and her life. This shows that Ginsburg was a leader of all humanity, not just women, which has been to inspiration to many Americans.

Continue reading at http://www.btsya.com/resources.html

Thank you, Ginsburg.

Sarah McClenaghan is an inspiring content creator from Lancaster, PA who loves to explore, read and drink coffee. Sarah volunteers with Be the Star You Are!®

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The Mysteries of Online Learning  

by Angelica Paramoshin 

Upon the unanticipated arrival of the raging coronavirus, our society was flung into a seemingly never ending quarantine lifestyle. With this followed the forced embracement of remote learning for the many months that followed.

As a current student in high school, I was initially overwhelmed by the sudden alteration from in-person learning to fully remote. Within a few days of the unprecedented change, my mind was flooded with thoughts surrounding the questionable reality we were all living in. It was very difficult to adjust to the confined daily routine that embodied quarantine. With time however, I was luckily able to acclimate to the given circumstances and began improving in my productivity levels.

By improving my ability to complete my assignments in a timely manner, I allowed myself to not continue my interests in volunteering, but to explore new hobbies that would greaten my appreciation for the little things in life.

Continue reading at http://www.btsya.com/resources.html

Angelica Paramoshin, a content creator volunteer with Be the Star You Are!® charity, is a rising senior in high school devoting time during this pandemic to volunteering. 

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As part of our Be the Star You Are! Disaster Relief Outreach program (https://www.bethestaryouare.org/copy-of-operation-hurricane-disaste), StarStyle® Productions, LLC and Be the Star You Are!® are showcasing authors, artists, actors, poets, musicians, and many others, all of whom had had their gigs canceled and are out of work. We believe in supporting creativity that provides escape and joy, especially during tough times. Tune in to StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are!® on Wednesdays at 4pm PT for “Wednesdays with Writers and Performers” LIVE http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are as well as our teen program, Express Yourself!™ airing on Sundays at 3pm PT for “Super Smart Sundays” https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

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Both programs broadcast on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel and will be archived on that site.


Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

DIRECT LINKS you can use for Be the Star You Are!®

Positive Results: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/positive-results

About Us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/about_us

Programs: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/programs

How to Help: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/how-to-help

Blog: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/blog-1

Events: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/events

Contact us: https://www.bethestaryouare.org/contact


GREAT NON PROFITS REVIEWS: https://greatnonprofits.org/org/be-the-star-you-are-inc

GUIDESTAR/CANDID: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/94-3333882

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We invite you to volunteer, get involved, or make a donation. Make a DONATION through PAYPAL GIVING FUND and PAYPAL with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504


t-shirt_btsya_outlinesBTSYA receives no government or corporate support. We count on YOU to help us help others. During this pandemic, all of our fundraising events have been canceled, yet we continue to support those in need. We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556




Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3
PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556

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