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Sow Spring

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Empowerment
Sow Spring

 

freezias succulents.jpgBy Cynthia Brian

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

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

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

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

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Sow Spring Seeds

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

Alyssum

Aster

Baby Blue Eyes

Baby’s Breath

Bachelor Buttons

Black Eyed Susan

Bluebell

Calendula

Candytuft

Cornflower

Clarkia

Coreopsis

Cosmos

Forget-Me-Not

Gaillardia

Hollyhock

Lavatara

Marigold

Poppy

Stock

Strawflower

Sunflower

Zinnia

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

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

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

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

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

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Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3. 

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

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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March On and Spring Forward

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Empowerment
March On and Spring Forward

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

It all started with a box of toothpicks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garden Happenings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live in truth. Live in nature.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

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

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

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

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3. 

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

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

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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And the Winner Is

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Empowerment
And the Winner Is

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

~Samuel Butler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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

 

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, is a New York Times best selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are1® 501 c3. 

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

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

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

The Courage to Stand

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Business

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Leading Conversations is celebrating Women of the World in honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, and Women’s History Month in March. Cruise our archives to learn from great women of the world we have had in conversation!

This week, Cheryl Esposito welcomes Philo Ikonya of Kenya, a human rights activist, social change motivator, ardent poet, writer and lecturer.  Philo holds postgraduate degrees in the Arts, and consults on gender, governance and media issues.

Philo courageously writes about the injustices of Kenya. In her series, Kenya Is Burning, she reflects on her country’s struggles with the devastating violence that has claimed so many lives and turned its people against each other.  “The women of Kenya have always been aware of injustice in our society…we’ve always known that the deep inequalities in our country would lead to the destruction of this nation.”  To continue to be a voice against social and political injustices,  Philo has had to leave Kenya, where her life was threatened if she continued to speak out. Today she lives in exile.

When Philo was still living in Kenya, she decided to wear sacks instead of regular clothes to peacefully protest the violence in Kenya. She helped organize a campaign urging Kenyan women to wear sacks for clothes “for as long as we do not have peace in Kenya; as long as we do not have justice and reform.” She has taken action in the face of fear and is a voice for those who dare not speak. Maybe…just maybe…women will save the world. Join Cheryl Esposito & Philo Ikonya to hear this extraordinary story of courage and vision for a just world.

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