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Erin go Bragh!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Erin go Bragh!

Shamrocks copy.jpeg 

Top of the morning to you!

“May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks

May your heart be as light as a song.

May each day bring you bright

Happy hours that stay with you all the year long.”  Irish blessing.

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My first introduction to the Emerald Isles arrived when I was seven. First grade was the beginning of my education since pre-school and kindergarten did not exist in our neck of the woods. A new school had been constructed with young teachers dressed from head to toe in black with white collars who arrived from a faraway land called Ireland. These exotic nuns told the most marvelous tales of a land where mischievous little people known as leprechauns lived in tiny houses, worked as shoemakers, and hid their gold in pots at the end of the rainbow.

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Magical green shamrocks blanketed the fields and dales that were used by the legendary St. Patrick in the 4th century to explain the Holy Trinity to those he wanted to convert to Christianity. Best of all, we learned he had driven out the snakes.

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Rattlesnakes were everywhere on our ranch so the thought of being able to run barefoot through a field of clover sounded spectacular. By the age of nine, letters were flying across the pond to my pen pal in Dublin and, finally when I was eighteen, I visited her in this mythical landscape to become an adopted Irishwoman. Since then, I’ve spent many days traversing the island, soaking up the hospitality of the people and the beauty of the stones, seascapes, landscapes, cottages, and shamrocks. Most charming are the tiny doors built at the base of trees where the leprechauns live.

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Shamrocks grow in my garden in the colors of pink and yellow. There are over five hundred species of Oxalis, known as sorrel or shamrock. Many people consider them a weed because they do multiply. Because I love the Irish lore, I love my spreading shamrocks. They grow from a small bulb and in March sprout mounds of beautiful green clover-shaped leaves with flowers that open at the top of the morning and close at the end of the day. I started my collection by growing shamrocks indoors in a pot and eventually moved the plants outdoors. When the foliage turns yellow and begins to die, cut the leaves to let the plant sleep. Next season, the shamrocks will burst forth again. The tiny bulbs or tubers can easily be moved or transplanted elsewhere. Be aware that shamrocks can become invasive. If you have a small yard, it may be best to keep them in a container. Or designate one area of your garden for the shamrocks and don’t allow them to escape.

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Wear green on March 17 and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a pot of shamrocks on your table. They may not bring you a pot of gold, but shamrocks are a reminder that once we can travel again, visiting the land of leprechauns is at the end of the rainbow.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Erin Go Bragh!

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

Since I’ve been writing this column since 2008, I often mistakenly assume that readers understand that I encourage the use of organic and safe garden practices for feeding, fertilizing, spraying, or eliminating pests. There are always ways to create a beautiful garden without the use of toxic chemicals, insecticides, herbicides, and pesticides. Keeping our children, pets, and wildlife safe and healthy is of the utmost importance. Whether I specific an organic method or not, please always use eco-friendly products. By doing so, we’ll also heal our planet.

ELIMINATE SNAILS: Non-toxic to children, chickens, and other pets, Sluggo and Natria are two organic baits containing iron phosphate which naturally occurs in soil. Non-ingested bait degrades and becomes part of the soil. 

Other ways to purge snails and slugs include:

  1. a. Handpicking them. I often go out at night with a flashlight and a bucket. If you have chickens, ducks, or geese, they’ll feast on escargot. Otherwise, at the risk of sounding cruel, you must kill them. We do the snail stomp. Put on boots and dance around. Other ways include drowning them in a bucket of water.
  2. b. Trapping them. Snails like to hide in damp, dark refuges under flowerpots, boards, or plants. Gather them in the morning after their nightly raid.
  3. c. Beer bowls. Snails are attracted to the fermenting yeast of beers. If you put out saucers or shallow bowls of beer, they will fall in. They don’t get drunk. They drown in the beer. 
  4. d. Copper barriers. Copper bands or strips are probably the most effective barrier to keep snails and slugs out of pots and plants. It is work-intensive and more expensive, but especially useful around trees.
  5. e. Decollate snails: These predatory snails have been used in Southern California to control young small brown snails in citrus groves. However, they cannot be used in Northern California as they would endanger other mollusk species. 

Once you have killed your snails, you can add them to your compost pile where their moist bodies will decompose quickly. The shells will take a bit longer but will add nutrients as they compost. 

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UPGRADE your outdoor living to be a place that encourages peacefulness and solitude. Create an area where you can work and listen to the sounds of nature.

SUPPORT National Farmworkers Awareness Week March 25-31 by purchasing produce from socially responsible vendors.

TRY a solar-powered sonic mole deterrent that emits vibrations through the ground to keep these velvety creatures at bay. Moles do produce unsightly molehills and undermine plants with their shallow tunnels which can cause roots to dry out. They also do positive chores by feeding on slugs. 

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STORE garbage cans out of reach of scavengers. Don’t feed wildlife. Skunks, raccoons, and coyotes have become frequent neighborhood visitors and can be dangerous.

FEED your lawns. Healthy soil grows healthy strong grass. Top your lawn with ¼ inch of compost or use a slow-release organic fertilizer that disseminates their nutrients through animal, plant, and mineral matter. It is best to fertilizer before rainfall. 

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TURN on lawn sprinklers to check the heads have not been covered by new growing grass. 

DESTROY weeds and poison oak without toxic chemicals. 

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For weeds in sidewalk cracks, borders, and areas where lawns, flowers, and other plants won’t be affected, mix one tablespoon Dawn dishwashing detergent, a cup of salt, and a gallon of regular white vinegar in a pail. Pour into a spray bottle and spray on the weeds on a sunny day. The sunlight works the magic. Be careful where you spray as this solution is harmful to grass and plants. It will kill your weeds.

For poison oak or super-tough weeds, buy a gallon of 30% white vinegar and put it in a spray tank undiluted. Spray poison oak as it emerges in spring and do it on a warm, sunny day. The 30% white vinegar is very potent and will kill everything it touches. It is the safe and effective alternative to using Round Up for a similar amount of money.  It also is useful for cleaning brick and stone patios, driveways, greenhouses, and hothouses. It will dissolve calcium, mineral, and lime buildup. 

SPRING for spring on March 20th.  Enjoy the rebirth of our gardens and start digging deeper.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. Happy Spring!

Photos and mores: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1502/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Top-of-the-Morning.html

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy copies of her 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 inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Looking Out!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Looking Out!

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“The heart is like a garden. What seeds will you plant there?” Buddha

The first vista I witness every morning as I traipse downstairs in my pink fluffy slippers to grab a cup of java invigorates my day. Outside my stairwell window,  a tall crimson camellia tree sways in the breeze flanked by a shimmering evergreen flowering pear. Rounding the corner, I look to my right. Through the hand-made stained-glass arch, winter and spring co-mingle. The bright cerise flowers of the peach tree frame the hillside carpeted by sprouting ranunculus, anemones, and hundreds of daffodils in a myriad of colors and textures: yellow on yellow, white and yellow, peach and white, white with white, orange and yellow. Frilly, singles, doubles, clusters…all with throats singing to the sky. Bare branches of pistache trees hug the redwoods. Butter-hued Meyer lemons hang like well-placed ornaments. I never fail to be awed by the majesty and beauty regardless of the season.

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Looking out to my colorful panoramas was carefully planned many years ago when I planted the first seeds and bulbs. Bringing the outdoors in has always been a priority for me. For over two decades I practiced interior design as a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers. I believe that our landscape is an extension of our homes and as such must reflect our moods, tastes, personalities, and preferential palettes. For me, color is an essential element to my happiness. When I look through a window, I want to see my internal penchants reflected by nature. Looking out is looking in.

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With less than three weeks to go before the vernal equinox, this is an auspicious time to contemplate how we want to orient our window views for the future. When you look out your windows, what do you want to see? Do you want flowering or fruiting trees? Do you want a monochromatic design? Are you like me and want to luxuriate in color? Are bulbs the surprise you anticipate yearly, or do you prefer planting annuals and perennials?

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My garden is abloom with pear, peach, and plum trees. Orange, tangerine, tangelo, lemon, and lime trees are filled with ripening fruit. Daffodils blanket the landscape, tulips are beginning to pop, columbine, wild strawberry, and vinca minor are flush with flowers. I couldn’t finish pruning all my rose bushes because so many were still budding. Nature orchestrates a steady stream of amazement.

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Although the nights are still cool, the days are warming allowing the soil temperatures to rise. Weeds are rapidly sprouting, and the ground can be worked in preparation for seeding and planting. Read garden catalogs or books for ideas on how to design spaces that will offer you years of enjoyment.  I’m preparing beds in full sun where I’ll scatter seeds of Lauren’s dark grape poppies. Poppies can handle frost and bloom best when started in early spring. These seedlings will emerge within fourteen days. The flowers will boast four-to-five inch chalice-shaped flowers in a showy port wine hue and they will self-sow for future enjoyment. 

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Another favorite perennial plant that I’m adding to my garden is the Lenten rose or hellebore. These plants which feature chartreuse, white, pink, and purple flowers with evergreen foliage are hummingbird friendly, deer-resistant, and water-wise. They thrive in part sun to full shade and are hardy to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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What will you plant in your spring garden as you look out?

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Cynthia Brian’s March Gardening Guide

  • RESTORE your mental and physical health by planting a beautiful vista outside your windows.
  • FILTER your indoor air with houseplants. According to NASA, 87 percent of volatile organic compounds are removed by live plants naturally. Now that is nothing to sneeze over!
  • RETHINK the design of your landscape to coincide with your interior spaces.
  • PULL weeds as they sprout.
  • PERUSE garden catalogs to plan a 2021 victory garden of healthy vegetables and herbs.
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  • FERTILIZE lawns.
  • SCATTER slug and snail bait.
  • REACH horticultural heights with a selection of flowering trees and shrubs. 
  • SUPPORT the Moraga Garden Club’s project, Moraga for Monarchs by helping to install a Monarch Butterfly Habitat and Education Garden at Rancho Laguna Park. Visit www.moragagardenclub.com.
  • FORCE branches of crabapple, quince, forsythia, and redbud by placing your tree prunings in a bucket of water in a dark place until the buds swell. Move the branches to a beautiful vase filled with warm water and enjoy the show. Change the water daily and add a few drops of bleach to ward off bacteria.
  • TRIM dead foliage from your ornamental grasses using sharp hedge clippers.
  • PICK up camellias blossoms that have fallen to the ground. Decaying blooms harbor petal blight.
  • AERATE your lawn. The soil is compacted from winter rains and foot traffic.  Leave the plugs to add nutrients back into the grass.
  • SPRINKLE poppy seeds as spring approaches. 
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Happy Gardening. Happy Growing!

More Photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1501/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Looking-out.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, is available for hire to help you prepare for your spring garden. Raised in the vineyards of Napa County, Cynthia is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

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 inspirational music DVD.

Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Let the Sun Shine!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Let the Sun Shine!

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When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars.

This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.” Lyrics to Age of Aquarius by The 5th Dimension

Astrologers don’t agree that it is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but one thing is certain, until February 18th, we are living under the sign of Aquarius. It has not felt like winter as the sun has been shining daily with only sporadic bouts of drizzle. In the past two weeks, gardens have burst into bloom as the days are warmer and brighter.

Here, in my yard, spring has sprung a full month ahead of schedule. The peach tree buds display their glorious magenta hues, the daffodils stretch their necks to the heavens, and camellias didn’t take a bloom break. Throughout our neighborhoods, evergreen pear trees are in full flower. Birds are feathering their nests, the frogs have begun their mating croaks, and worms are busy loosening the soil.

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Our reservoirs are not yet at capacity and we desperately need more rain. Since the groundhog went back into her hole, I’m hopeful that we will still get much-needed precipitation. 

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Cynthia Brian’s Garden Chores for February

Roses

Pruning: Roses need to be pruned to allow for them to thrive. You’ll need pruning shears, loppers, a pruning saw, and gloves. Cut out dead or woody stems as well as any diseased or damaged stems. If you have rambling roses, allow them to ramble unless you need them contained. With climbers, cut the previous year’s flowering shoots. For hybrid teas and floribundas, prune the stems by 2/3. With shrub roses, cutting back to a 1/3 for single flowering and 1/3 to 2/3 for repeat flowering. Pruning will ensure a beautiful, long-lasting blooming season. Keep in mind if you want smaller plants, you may prune harder. Make sure to nicely shape your bushes. If you have the room, select canes to plant elsewhere or give to a friend. You can plant the canes directly in the ground or in pots to root. Dip canes in a rooting powder before planting.

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Bare-Root Planting: Through early spring you can plant bare-root roses. 

  • • Make sure the soil isn’t frozen or water-logged. 
  • • Choose an area that receives a minimum of four hours of sunlight daily. The more sun, the better your bush will grow. 
  • • Rehydrate your bare-root in a bucket of water overnight. 
  • • Remove weeds and rocks from the area where you will dig the hole and loosen the soil with a garden fork. 
  • • Dig a hole with a spade approximately 16” x 20” or whatever is necessary for the roots to spread.
  • • Add a few handfuls of compost or rose soil to the hole.
  • • Remove the rose from the bucket and place in the hole. Keep the bottom of the stems need to be 2-3” below the top of the hole.
  • • Replace the original soil, the tap down with your foot.
  • • Water.

Other Goddess Gardener Tips

  •  FERTILIZE your trees, shrubs, and ground covers. 
  •  SCATTER snail bait around your garden.
  •  APPLY a systemic insecticide to roses to prevent the first flush of aphids in the spring.
  •  SPRAY roses, citrus trees, fruit trees, evergreen pear trees, and crape myrtles with dormant oil to protect again fungal disease.
  •  PICK UP and discard fallen camellia blooms.
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  •  CUT a branch from a budding peach tree to watch the flowers unfurl.
  •  PLANT a few of my favorite specimens: 
  • • To attract hummingbirds: Fringe-love lies bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) boasts striking red hanging plumage. Columbine (aquilegia) is a perennial with clouds of bell-shaped flowers in several colors. A loquat tree offers flowers that hummingbirds crave.
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  • • Drought-resistant, no maintenance ground cover: Pink Knotweed
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  • • Shade plant with distinctive colors: Hellebores
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  • • For Borders: Bergenia
  • • A shrub that cascades: Purple potato plant
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As we leave the sign of Aquarius and enter the horoscope of Pisces, let’s pray that the lyrics from the Age of Aquarius ring true throughout 2021.

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the minds true liberation

Let the sun shine, let the sun shine in! And, please let it rain this month.

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Happy Gardening! Happy Growing!

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1426/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Let-the-sun-shine-in.html

Cynthia-star earring copy.jpegCynthia 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. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Prune, Plan, Peruse

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Prune, Plan, Peruse

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“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”

~ George Moore

Like most of us who have been sheltering at home for the past eleven months, traveling to foreign lands has not been part of my normal activities. At first, I was immensely disappointed to cancel my 2020 exotic trips, especially the one that would have reunited me with my European pen pal with whom I’ve been corresponding regularly since I was nine years old. That’s a long time to have maintained a close relationship across thousands of miles.

But, like so many, this past year has found me digging even deeper into communion with nature. I have been inspired by its majesty and motivated to respect our alliance with a stronger devotion by spending many hours outdoors in contemplation as well as work-mode.

A week ago, the hills were still golden brown but with the recent heavy rains, a lushness and verdancy have finally appeared.  February nights bring increased frost and freezing temperatures. We must cover our tender plants with burlap or cloth as protection.

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The most necessary garden chore this month is pruning our fruit trees. It is essential to prune your peaches, pears, prunes, plums, apples, and apricots while the trees are dormant in winter. Sweet cherries are pruned in summer as they are susceptible to fungal and bacterial diseases. All other fruiting trees need to be pruned to allow for increased sunlight to penetrate the branches which will in turn yield higher quality fruit. Pruning helps battle diseases while developing a better form for a healthier tree.

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The tools you’ll need are a lopper, hand pruner, pruning saw, and long-handled pruning shear. You may need a ladder if your tree is especially tall but be very careful when using any ladder. Make sure to have a second person with you to hold the ladder since the ground may not be level. Sterilize your tools with alcohol or bleach mixed with water to avoid spreading any disease from plant to plant. 

By removing unnecessary limbs, you will be able to shape the tree while providing better access for any necessary spraying.  The increased sunlight promotes a larger size of fruit with a uniform ripening time. Insect infestation and other diseases are reduced through pruning because after a rain shower, the limbs will dry more quickly. Pruning appropriately will provide a more beautiful canopy without topping the tree. The sugar content of the crop is increased with the airflow and sun. Harvesting is easier. Pick up a book on pruning to read about the best methods for your various tress or watch online tutorials. If you feel out of your league, hire a professional arborist. Always gather the trimmings from the ground.  When dry, use as kindling, shred for mulch, or add to your green bin.

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Although this month is not the time to plant annuals and perennials, it is the perfect time to plant any bare-root specimens including roses, berries, and fruit trees. Check out the selection at your favorite nursery or garden center. Follow the directions on the packaging for soaking the roots, light pruning, digging the holes, and filling. By late spring most bare-rooted plants are established and flourishing.

Besides pruning and planting bare-root, February is a terrific time to plan for all-season enjoyment and splendor. Recently a delivery was made by someone who hadn’t been to my garden since the summer before the pandemic. His first comment to me was: “Your landscape is so beautiful and colorful… it’s like falling into a chapter of Alice in Wonderland.” I expressed my thanks for his sweet compliment, although in my mind I was thinking “winter is the ugliest time of the year in my garden.” 

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I decided to look at my yard through a different lens…fresh eyes, as if returning from a vacation. Sometimes when we rarely leave our cocoon, we fail to recognize the evolution of the cycles of attraction. As I walked around my property, I saw what he saw—a hillside covered in sweet-smelling narcissi, rows of pink Bergenia, waves of purple sage, shimmers of calendulas, bushes of azaleas, rhododendrons, and roses, trees of camellias, groves of ferns, mounds of nemesia, orchards of citrus, crocus, calla lilies, and daffodils popping, and the soaring orange plumes of birds of paradise all in full glorious bloom.  Even in the middle of winter, my garden is teeming with interest and vibrancy. 

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Take a walk around your garden and make notes of where you need more wit and whimsy. Know where the sun rises, moves, and sets throughout your landscape. Do you need to add or extend irrigation? Do you have a favorite color palette, or do you prefer a cacophony of color authentically unique to you? 

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Once you understand your wants and needs, pour a cup of tea, cover yourself with a cozy throw, and peruse a multitude of garden catalogs that showcase bulbs, annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, grasses, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Research what plants will be best suited to your terrain and micro-climate. Make a wish list noting the months to order, when to plant, and when to expect the show. By creating a calendar of flowering events, your garden will boast attractive appeal all year long. For a dramatic night environment, make sure to add outdoor lighting and lanterns to highlight trees, paths, fences, and walls. 

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Here are a few catalog favorites that you can order:

White Flower Farm: www.WhiteFlowerFarm.com

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds: www.KitchenGardenSeeds.com

Plant Delight Nursery, Inc.: www.PlantDelights.com

Bluestone Perennials: www.BluestonePerennials.com

The Whole Seed Catalog: www.Rareseeds.com

Renee’s Garden Seeds: www.Reneesgarden.com

Proven Winners Shrubs: www.ProvenWinners-shrubs.com

David Austin Roses: www.DavidAustinRoses.com

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Your general state of happiness is connected to how much you enjoy your home. With these garden catalog treasures, you can travel the globe without leaving the safety of your house. Prune, plan, peruse, and dream on. 

Happy Gardening! Happy Growing! Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Photos and More: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1425/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Prune-plan-and-peruse.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.

cynthiua-book shelf.jpeg

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 inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Cynthia Brian- Unique talk radio copySMALL.jpeg

Nature Renewal

Posted by presspass on
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Empowerment
Nature Renewal

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“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Mahatma Gandhi

I popped the crunchy pods of my just-picked sugar snap peas into my mouth as I uttered a prayer of gratitude for the food I grow to nourish my family and the gardens I cultivate to nourish my soul. The past few weeks have brought the fragility of life into focus amidst the mounting death toll from the pandemic and the anxiety aroused by the political rampages.

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We need to return to our roots to savor the sweetness of life. For me, Mother Nature has always provided renewal and refreshment in her simplicity and order. When I’m feeling stressed, I go outside to walk, listen, see, smell, touch, and taste…to reconnect with my senses and revive my spirit. 

I picked a few stems of jonquil which are now sitting in a vase on my desk as I write this column filling my nostrils with their elegant perfume.

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My step increases its bounce as I taste the tangy citrus of my newly ripe Navel oranges. Back in my vegetable garden, arugula, sorrel, Swiss Chard, assorted greens, and beets await my culinary menus. Orange and yellow calendula flowers season my salads and the unusual hued flowers of osteospermum elevate my chi as they decorate my hillside.

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My journal indicates that this week in January the roses are to be pruned. My bushes are still filled with buds and blooms that enhance the landscape and my heart. I will complete this task when it is colder next month. Beauty is required as a tonic for joyfulness.

Winter is a time to regroup, to rest, to repair, to rethink. Deciduous trees are now bare, an indication that work in the garden is winding down, at least for a month or so.

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We can use this period to dream and decide what projects and plantings we may want to engage in throughout the year.  What’s on your list of things that you’ve always desired in your backyard but never had the time, money, or inclination to accomplish? A sampling of suggestions to fill your vision boards could include:

Planting a pollinator garden or a cutting garden

Making a meditation meadow

Rebuilding a patio or deck

Erecting a retaining wall

Growing vegetables, herbs, and fruits

Retrofitting regions for relaxation and reading

Adding a trellis, gate, arbor, or gazebo

Creating compost piles or buying compost bins

Improving a perennials plot

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Hanging hammocks for summer enjoyment

Switching to succulents

Increasing native populations

Including a play structure

Paving a path with gravel or crushed granite

Installing a pond, fountain, waterfall, or other water feature

Increasing your library of garden guides

Removing a junk pile

Stacking wood for a fireplace or firepit

Enlarging bird habitats

Replacing irrigation systems

Reseeding lawns in spring

Building a rain garden

Starting a small vineyard

Buying patio furniture and chaise lounges

Planning a rock wall 

Assembling an animal enclosure

Painting the fence

Shooting photos of your plants and the wildlife that visit

Ideas are endless as we daily take time to pause, brainstorm, and learn something new. Foster enthusiasm for the new year by paying attention to the enrichment of the natural world. 

Reawaken your senses and restore your passion. Design your future farm. Breathe!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

Cynthia Brian’s Mid-January Gardening Guide

  •  RECORD your landscaping escapades by writing in a garden journal online or in print. Your journals will track trends and seasons for the forthcoming years.
  •  CLEAN your garden tools in a bucket of vinegar and water for 20 minutes.  Remove your tools and dip a sponge in a bowl of baking soda. Scrub off the rust.
  •  SPROUT onions and chives in your kitchen by cutting the greens, then putting the roots in a glass of water. Within a week you’ll have fresh greens for your salads and soups. (Change the water daily)
  •  START yams or sweet potatoes by rooting in a glass jar with water. This is a simple, fun growing opportunity for kids! When lush leaves emerge, it’s time to plant outside to produce more yams or potatoes. 
  • yam growing in glass jar.jpeg
  •  REPLENISH bird feeders with nutritious seeds keeping our avian visitors nearby while supplementing their dietary requirements during the cold season.
  •  READ seed and bulb catalogs or magazines that feature gardens.
  •  HARVEST sugar snap peas, arugula, Swiss Chard, greens, and Brussels sprouts.
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  •  REDUCE watering on houseplants as they rest for a winter’s nap.
  •  RESOLVE to spend a minimum of thirty minutes per day outside. Studies indicated that every person needs at least fifteen minutes of outdoor sunlight daily for necessary Vitamin D replenishment. 
  •  REFRAIN from heavy pruning of your rose bushes until buds and blooms are finished. 
  •  PLANT a container of aloe to use on burns and bites.
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  •  RECONNECT and be renewed by nature.

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1424/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Renewal-by-nature.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. Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Trend in the Garden for 2021

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Empowerment
Trend in the Garden for 2021

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“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right!” Oprah Winfrey

HELLOOOOOOO 2021! We have been holding our collective breaths for the past ten months desperately anticipating a new beginning with a new year. 

Are you feeling a renewed enthusiasm for living? Are you ready to dig in? 

Every year the Garden Media Group releases information on what trends are formulating for the next season of horticulture. 2021 has been dubbed “The Great Reset”, which is aptly titled given that we are still sheltering-in-place, connecting with loved ones and friends mostly online and by phone. The world is connected through this shared experience of a global pandemic as we impart information to help one another cope and prosper.

2020 was deemed the year where gardens, open spaces, and nature, in general, became a priority for maintaining wellness in body, mind, and spirit. Roomier homes with large backyards or acreage were in high demand as social distancing developed into the norm. Gardens became the bridge to building confidence and resilience while connecting communities and neighborhoods.

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In 2021, the great outdoors will become even more critical as classes of all creeds move outside. Expect to experience yoga, dance, workouts, art, cooking, entertainment, and activities for kids scheduled in outdoor spaces.  It is no longer necessary to be tethered to the high cost of living in big cities as working remotely allows employees to be closer to family and fresh air.

Research indicates that over 16 million people started gardening for the first time during the pandemic and many of them are under the age of 35. More than half of American adults are spending at least two additional hours outside today than before the outbreak started. In 2021, gardening will become a part of everyday life and will infiltrate school curriculums. Currently, 67% of adults are growing or plan to grow edibles. Berries are the most prevalent plus 52% of people are growing vegetables, 33% growing herbs, and 31% growing fruit. 

What’s trending up for 2021?

  •  Increased online sales of plants and garden products which offer convenience, speed, and safety.
  •  Parks, trails, and open spaces will become an integral part of daily life.
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  •  Interiorscaping will become a new buzzword as stores and businesses bring the outdoors in.
  •  Greater demand for houseplants for every room, especially home offices.
  •  Tropical plants will grace new “garden rooms” indoors.
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  •  Certified wildlife habitats and pollinator gardens are spreading.
  •  Educational courses, how-to-videos, and garden consultants will become routine learning tools.
  •  A surge in home cooking and the fear of food scarcity means growing one’s own fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a necessity.
  •  Canning and preserving food for the future will be re-popularized.
  •  Children will be introduced at a younger age to the treasures of nature.
  •  Miniature plants to grow on windowsills, under grow lights, or under glass for those living in small apartments without yards will be more readily available.
  •  We will live with nature and protect our eco-systems to save lives.

The benefits of gardening are innumerable and will grow even more fashionable. Increased health, decreased stress, improved wellness, and stronger bodies through garden chores will lead to happier more balanced lifestyles. 

In 2021, we will embrace nature as part of our being. Nature is not something “out there” in the wilderness. Nature will thrive in our backyards, on rooftops, balconies, porches, and windowsills. Our very existence will depend on creating a sustainable balance between humans and all creation.

My hope is that we will all finally understand that there are no mistakes in the garden. Failure is fertilizer to grow anew. Just garden.

Happy New Year with revived cheer. Let’s get it right!

Cynthia Brian’s Garden Guide for January

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DETACH ornaments, lights, and tinsel from your Christmas trees and leave them on the curb on your garbage pick-up day. Flocked trees can be cut up and put in the green bins. 

BEWARE of wild boars on the rampage. Boars are causing major damage to landscapes and are a danger to people and pets. Fish and Game offers information. For local assistance with wildlife control including boars, coyotes, turkeys, deer, and more, contact licensed and insured Full Boar Depredation, https://www.fullboar-llc.com.  

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LOWER your anxiety with the Japanese practice of shrinrin-yoku or forest bathing. Take a walk in nature and you’ll immediately experience relaxation.

REMOVE wrapping from any holiday gifted plants to allow for drainage.

PRUNE deciduous fruit trees, bushes, flowering shrubs, and cane berries. Roses can be heavily pruned towards the end of the month.

SPRAY your second application of a dormant spray aimed to kill the many overwintering insects and diseases after you have pruned.

PICK a few sprigs of narcissus to perfume an entire room.

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PLANT all bare root fruit trees, perennials, berries, and vines.  They cost less and will adapt quickly to their new home.

ADD acanthus to your landscape for lush greenery and interesting spring floral spikes.

BUY healthy meal kits with farm-fresh ingredients from Sun Basket if you aren’t growing your own. https://bit.ly/2DipPsT

BUILD a river rock dry creek to direct run-off rainwater. 

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ORDER bare-root roses from your local nursery or find beautiful, fragrant cultivars at www.DavidAustin.com.

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BRIGHTEN your winter landscape with sweet peas, society garlic, and guara (which looks like floating butterflies).

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CONTINUE wearing your mask, social distancing, and washing your hands. 

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Happy Gardening! Happy Growing! Cheers for 2021!

Read more and see photos: Read more and see photos: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1423/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Garden-trends-for-2021.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.

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 inspirational music DVD.

Cynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Home (and garden) for the Holidays!

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Empowerment
Home (and garden) for the Holidays!

House lights.jpeg

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
  • Cynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpg Back cover-Growiung  6 x 6 – Version 3.jpg
  •  CUT branches of berries from heavenly bamboo, cotoneaster, holly, or pyracantha to add to mantels and wreaths. 
  • Heavenly bamboo berries.jpeg
  •  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.

cyn-xmas hat-tree.jpeg

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 books banner.jpg

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

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Tiny Sprouts!

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Empowerment
Tiny Sprouts!

Cynthia's gardening partner watering.jpeg

“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.

Cynthia's garden partner planting seeds.jpeghttps://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1421/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Young-sprouts.html

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.

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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.

Cynthia and her garden helper young sprout.jpeg

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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

Fall Fireworks

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Empowerment
Fall Fireworks

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

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

~Rumi

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.

FERTILIZE lawns.

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.

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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.

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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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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

As the Leaves Turn

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Empowerment
As the Leaves Turn

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“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.

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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HARVEST apples. 

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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

©2020

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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

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