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April Showers Bring May Flowers

Posted by Felix Assivo on
April Showers Bring May Flowers

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By Cynthia Brian


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

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

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

Herb Robert Geranium Weed.jpeg

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

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

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

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

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

Goddess Gardener Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for May


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

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

·      removing hazardous vegetation.

·      clearing debris from gutters and roofs.

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

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

·      cut grass to three inches or less in height.

·      remove dead or dying trees and shrubs.

·      the compliance deadline is June 1st!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TREAT roses organically to repel aphids and fungal diseases.

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

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

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Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

Photos and more:


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

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



Cynthia Brian books banner.jpg

GARDEN PARTY PREP WITH the Goddess Gardener, cynthia Brian

Posted by Felix Assivo on
GARDEN PARTY PREP WITH the Goddess Gardener, cynthia Brian

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Digging Deep with Goddess Gardener, Cynthia Brian
Azaleas do well in shady areas and will bloom profusely. Photos Cynthia Brian

“I was reared in the garden, you know.” ~ Emily Dickenson
If you are like most people who have been hibernating and following CDC social distancing protocols during the pandemic, you are probably itching for a gathering of friends and family. If you have been vaccinated (and, I hope you have), small outdoor get-togethers without masks are considered relatively safe.
Is your garden and patio area ready for a party? While many people have baked bread, learned to crochet, or tackled puzzles, I have been busy helping clients prepare their landscapes for small garden shindigs as well as creating quiet spaces as a peaceful, restorative sanctuary.
You don’t have to do an entire expensive makeover to make your place look pretty and presentable. There are several ways to get a streamlined look on a budget that you can afford.
I call these “garden hacks” and I’ll share suggestions with you.
Walk around your exterior perimeter and take notes. What areas need more TLC? Do you have debris anywhere or everywhere? What about weeds, broken or dead branches, or an overabundance of fallen leaves? The first thing you want to do is clean. Remove whatever is broken and not fixable, recycle or re-purpose other items. Rake the leaves and put them in the compost pile or green bin. With pruning shears, cut any dead branches on shrubs or trees and remove dead or dry foliage.
Next, tackle the weeds. If weeds are growing in beds, it is best to pull them by hand. If they are on a hillside or area without many other plants, you might be able to use a weed-eater. My preference is always hand-pulling to get the roots. Pulling out the roots ensures that they won’t sprout again this season.
Once your garden is free of weeds, check the soil. If it is hard and compacted, it behooves you to bring in bags of enriched compost before planting. Soil is the foundation of verdant growth. With our glorious spring weather, blooming flowers, trees, and shrubs are in abundance at nurseries and garden centers. Before it gets too hot, you’ll want to add any shrubs or color spots. Until plantings are established, you will need to water deeply and often. I prefer to plant colorful perennials, biennials, and bulbs that will return in future seasons. Some of my favorites are azaleas, foxgloves, delphinium, lavender, roses, and calla lily, all available in several colors. To soften a fence or arbor, I recommend clematis, honeysuckle, or jasmine. Wisteria is a strong, spreading vine that requires heavy-duty support systems. Also, seek drought-tolerant species and succulents. In my garden, I like to create a painter’s palette of color with minimal spacing between plants, however, strategically placing just a few select plants is impressively impactful.
Ornamental grasses are easy to care for and add a natural stream-like flow to a garden. Clumping bamboo is excellent as a rustling screen that blows in the breeze. Both offer a feeling of serenity and calmness to any space.
After you have planted, you’ll want to top-dress with mulch to enhance the aesthetics, increase moisture retention, and minimize weed growth. You can buy wood chips in at least three different colors: red, black, and forest brown by the bag or you can order other varieties in bulk. Any flammable mulches such as chips, bark, straw, or pine needles must be distanced two feet from structures as per the fire ordinance. Gravel or rocks can be placed around the structure as a preventive measure.
Add steppingstones surrounded by small pebbles or pea gravel to enhance a dirt path. Gravel and rocks add texture, and the crunching sound is soothing. If your porch or deck needs refinishing and that project is not in your current plan or budget, buy inexpensive indoor/outdoor carpeting or rugs in natural tones to temporally cover the flaws and make walking comfortable and splinter-free.
When it comes to patio furniture, take an inventory of the condition of what you have. Can it last another summer with a bit of cleaning and updating? Do you need new pillows and pads, or can you just wash and refresh the ones you own? I recently worked on a project where the homeowners were going to discard their table and chairs because they were rusting. Their dilemma was that they didn’t have the time nor the money to invest in new patio furniture before a scheduled garden get-together for a few vaccinated friends. My suggestion was to use a little elbow grease: scrub, sand, and spray-paint. It took only a couple of hours, and the result was that the set looked brand new. Painting is one of the greatest hacks offering immediate, inexpensive results.
Another hack that I employ regularly is adding cut seafoam statice to area pots or beds where a little pizzaz is needed. Bunches of straw-like statice will hold their purple color for weeks without additional water. Shaded areas with comfortable seating invite a cooling, quieting, and relaxing experience. Umbrellas add sophistication to a patio and two or three strips of vintage- looking LED Edison-bulb lighting to provide a warm inviting glow in the evening. Lay a row of tube lights on the ground behind hedges for ethereal illumination.
The smart choice when planning the party bites is to offer individually cupped appetizers to eliminate people double-dipping. Home-grown (or farmers’ market) carrots, celery, and peppers cut into long slices standing on top of hummus in tiny tableware mount a pretty display as well as a nutritious one. Cones with charcuteries adorned with springs of rosemary, orange slices, and berries will entice any carnivore. For drinks, individual bottles or cans of favorite beverages will quench thirsty friends. Glasses can be marked with the names of the guests.
Finally, fresh, free-flowing flower arrangements picked from a profusion of blooms from your garden will be a conversation starter. The ones I created for the event were a mixture of calendula, Jupiter’s beard, Mexican sage, mixed with mock orange which added a heady perfume to the outdoor occasion. After the festivities, the bouquets became fragrant favorites indoors.
I was reared in the garden and am proud of being a nature lady. By using these simple hacks, you are ready to host your outdoor garden party with your vaccinated friends. Give it your best shot!
Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.
– Compliance deadline for wildfire risk is June 1. Make sure to cut your tall grasses, prune tree limbs to a minimum of six feet from the ground and away from roofs. Keep two feet of combustible ground covers including bark or mulch away from structures. Gravel is a good medium to use in this area. Also, plantings need to have a one-foot clearance above the ground. Clean out gutters and roof area of debris. Trim trees away from chimneys and remove flammable liquids and other matter away from your home.
– Once your daffodils, tulips, woodland hyacinths, and Naked ladies’ foliage have dried, remove them from the plant. By allowing the leaves to yellow, the plant is receiving its nutrition to develop flowers for the next season. The leaves can be added to the compost pile.
– Keep a bucket in your shower and use the water on your indoor plants.
– Empty all outdoor vessels of standing water. Even a teacup saucer will breed mosquitoes.
– Snakes are now out and about. Garter, King, and gopher snakes are great friends to our gardens.
Calla lilies are elegant and flower annually. Photos Cynthia Brian
Purple statice fills the back of a former solar light pelican Photos Cynthia Brian
The former dirt path is improved with black pebbles, steppingstones, and lined with mulch. Photos Cynthia Brian
As a highlight to your vaccinated outdoor gathering, make charcuterie cones with a slice of orange and a sprig of rosemary. Photos Cynthia Brian
Before planting, starting to put mulch, mostly bare ground.
After planting with mulch the appearance is much more appealing.
The repainted table holds a loose arrangement picked from the garden: calendula, Mexican sage, Jupiter’s beard, and mock orange blossoms.
Sliced celery, peppers, and carrots in an individual cup of hummus are a tasty appetizer.
A blue clematis is a great addition to a fence or arbor. .
 Cynthia Brian in the spring garden with purple wisteria

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!r 501 c3. Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyler 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

No Showers for May Flowers

Posted by Felix Assivo on
No Showers for May Flowers

flowering cherry.jpeg

“My garden is my most beautiful work of art” – Claude Monet

We’ve all heard the adage, “April showers bring May flowers!”  We have the flowers this year, but April precipitation did not materialize. 2021 is lining up to be the third driest year in the history of California. And that means that we must be more diligent than ever to prepare our properties for a season of increased wildfires.

I have been weeding my property with every spare minute since February. It is essential to pull out weeds by the roots, else they return promptly. This is round three and the resulting garden is looking beautiful.  I’ve been experimenting with mixing flowers of iridescent pinks with buttery yellows and pumpkin orange accented by sky blue and bold purple. The palette has taken on an Impressionistic essence of which Monet would be proud.

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April and May have always been my favorite months because of the plethora of blooms, birds, and fragrances. The perfume of the jasmine permeates the morning air, the lilac scents the afternoon sunshine, while the wisteria and mock orange infuse the evening with glorious aromas. 

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My two thornless Lady Banksia rose bushes with their profusion of creamy double-petaled flowers have commandeered thirty linear feet of a fence as well as twined to the tops of a plum and chestnut tree.

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The flowering cherry tree showcases puffy blossoms resembling pink snowballs. The mock orange tree’s white blooms are candy for the bees. The cerise flowers of the Western redbud tree offer a gorgeous contrast to the unfurling green leaves of the honey locust trees. Under a canopy of pines and surrounded by white calla lilies and lacy hemlock, a New Zealand hawthorn brightens the verdant scene with clouds of blush blooms.

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Bearded irises in a variety of colors are delicate and fragrant. Azaleas and camellias thrive in the shadow of the redwoods. Freesias, tulips, daffodils, calendulas, anemones continue their carnival of blooms. Despite the lack of rain, the spring display is splendor in the grass.

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In many parts of the country, people wait until after Mother’s Day to start planting their vegetables but because of the warmth of this season, I advise that you get started soon. Getting children involved with planting vegetables and herbs will encourage them to eat what they plant. After researchers spent time with children in Central Texas who had gardens and gardening classes at their schools, they discovered that the nutrition of both parents and children improved. Also, those who participated began enjoying more vegetables. 


If you are planning a vegetable patch, buy pint or quart size containers of your favorite vegetables. Don’t attempt to plant everything you see at the nursery. Only plant what you and your family love. For example, for my spring veggie garden, I’ve planted nine varieties of tomatoes as I’m a tomato snob. I only eat tomatoes in season and prefer only tomatoes that I, a friend, or a family member grows. Also planted are eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers. Already growing are a plethora of herbs including basil, oregano, fennel, sage, thyme, dill, cilantro as well as leafy greens of arugula, sorrel, lettuce, and sugar snap peas, artichokes, onions, chives, strawberries, and broccoli. 

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Make sure that you rotate your crops from year to year so as not to deplete the soil. Most summer vegetables require a minimum of six hours of sunlight. Read and follow the instructions that come with your plant.

Another beautiful, long-flowering, and excellent fresh-cut for arrangements is the dahlia. Although they are supposed to be deer-resistant, the deer that graze around my property seem to find them delicious.  I don’t advise dahlias to be planted in areas where you have marauders. Dahlias produce large, colorful blooms and are a welcome addition to any garden. Here’s how to get them started in your landscape:

  1. 1. Choose a well-drained area with plenty of sunlight.
  2. 2. Plant the tubers after the danger of frost have passed.
  3. 3. Dig a hole about a foot deep and amend with compost or potting soil.
  4. 4. Place the tuber flat and cover with the amended soil.
  5. 5. Make a patch of dahlias spaced 12-36” apart for maximum impact.
  6. 6. Water immediately.
  7. 7. After sprouting, pinch off the side buds to allow the central blowers to be larger.
  8. 8. Deadhead as flowers fade to maintain blooming. 
  9. dahlias.jpeg

Because of the arid times in which we are living, make sure to cut all tall wild grasses, trim limbs up from the ground six to ten feet to prevent fire laddering, and clear a safety zone around your home. Clean out gutters, remove debris, be cautious when barbecuing and careful around the fire pit. Keep gardens irrigated, watering early in the morning or early in the evening. Be diligent and responsible to help prevent a fire from igniting. Pray for rain yet be prepared for drought. 

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Mother’s Day is approaching and a welcome gift for mom can always be found in the garden. Consider a bubbling fountain, birdhouse, or colorful annuals to plant. Make a simple arrangement using flowers from the garden accompanied by a garden book that will be treasured always.

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Whatever you do, let your Mom know how much she means to you whether it is through a virtual visit or an in-person brunch, picnic, or walk. Moms love the little remembrances and deserve accolades, at least once a year!

Spring is the time to savor the beauty surrounding you. If you’ve ever been to Giverny in France, you will know that Monet was not exaggerating about his garden being his most beautiful work of art. He was inspired by nature and you can be too. Be an artist and create your masterpiece in your garden.

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

Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1505/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-May-flowers-without-the-showers.html

Cynthia Brian-Spring garden.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 Brian books banner.jpg Receive a FREE inspirational music DVD.

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



Let the Sun Shine!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
Let the Sun Shine!


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


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.
  • camililia tree.jpeg
  •  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.
  • fringe-love lies bleeding plant.jpeg
  • • Drought-resistant, no maintenance ground cover: Pink Knotweed
  • Pink Knowtweed. (persicaria capitata).jpeg
  • • Shade plant with distinctive colors: Hellebores
  • hellebore-lavender-blue.jpeg
  • • For Borders: Bergenia
  • • A shrub that cascades: Purple potato plant
  • purple potato plant.jpeg

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.



Pass the Mustard!

Posted by presspass on
Pass the Mustard!


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

The thunder clapped. The lightning bolted. The skies opened. 

Rain, life-giving rain.

The garden rejoices. 

The lawn, browned from the hot summer and autumn, is once again a lush verdant emerald. Fresh new leaves are beginning to unfurl on plants presumed expired. Weeds are sprouting in every crevice and worms are back working their tilling magic.  Tiny pink buds are exploding on peach trees, white blossoms already cover the flowering pears, and scarlet blooms of Chinese flowering quince, a member of the rose family highlight the barren landscape. We are smack in the middle of winter with the opportunity to learn, teach, and enjoy.


lush lawn.jpgAs you drive along the local roads, you’ll witness fields carpeted in yellow. This is the wild mustard plant, the magical staple of my childhood. Every year in March our walnut orchards would be blanketed in five-foot tall plants that provided my siblings and me abundant opportunities to build forts, hide from our parents, and make mustard leaf sandwiches. We’d collect the seeds, mix them with vinegar and sea salt, and make our own culinary creations. Our Dad would eventually till this beneficial cover crop back into the soil as a green manure to add nitrogen, increase drainage, and water retention.

If you planted seeds of edible greens and cool loving crops in the fall, you are now harvesting many members of the mustard family including cabbage, kale, collards, kohlrabi, broccoli, yellow mustard, bok choy, and cauliflower. Buds of Brussels sprouts are forming their “sprouts” in the axils of leaves on the stalk.  Flavor improves with Brussels sprouts after two or more frosty nights. The mustard family includes the genus Brassica whereby most of the leaves and flowers taste peppery. Since the flower pattern is in the form of a cross, the plants are referred to as cruciferous. Called super-foods, cruciferous vegetables pack a punch with disease- fighting phytochemicals, attributed to preventing cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Brassicas are also nutrient and fiber-rich with healthy plant omega-3’s, vitamin A, C, E, B-1, and folic acid. They are easy to grow from seed in well-drained, fertile soil enriched with compost.  Because Brassicas are prone to pests and soil-borne diseases, make sure to practice crop rotation and never compost the roots. Although you can use recycled containers to start seeds indoors in the winter, these plant varieties are more successful when seeds are sown directly in the garden. 

Brussels Sprouts.jpg

With the recent outbreaks of e.coli infections found in a variety of leafy greens and specifically romaine lettuce, growing your own vegetables is not only less expensive, but it is safer because you have the power to control what goes into your soil. Seeds of arugula, Swiss Chard, lettuces, spinach, scallions, sorrel, fennel, and nasturtium can be succession scattered to ensure year-round eating pleasure. 


Your vegetable garden has the potential to feed your family throughout all four seasons at a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay for equivalent produce at the market. In winter, you will rarely have to turn on a water source, and you can fertilize with your homemade compost.  When you save the seeds of your favorite plants, you also won’t have to buy new seed packets. During every planting period consider adding an unfamiliar crop that you’ve discovered by perusing seed catalogs.


Even when the inclement weather is keeping you bundled by the fire indoors with a cup of hot tea to ease your sore throat, if you’ve taken an hour or so to sow your favorite seeds, germination will be happening underground. One sunny day you’ll walk outside to witness the miracle of nature. 

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Voila! Instant leafy greens sown and grown in your personal hearty-health home garden. 

Pass the mustard!

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide for February

PICK UP the fallen blooms of camellias to prevent the fungus Camellia blossom rot which causes blooms to turn brown from the center out. Do not compost spent blossoms. Put the dead blooms in the trash bin. 

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USE Chinese flowering quince as a spiny hedge or barrier.

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DON’T mow your lawn after a rain when the soil is too moist or you will damage the grass and cause rivets in the soil.

PLANT seedlings of celosia next month for a late spring show.

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FINAL time to heavy prune your roses. Dig canes in a rooting solution and plant in rich soil in small containers to give as summer hostess gifts.


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GROW your own Brassicas and leafy greens by sowing seeds in succession.

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MAKE homemade mustard from the seeds of wild mustard by grinding them and adding salt and vinegar.

PRUNE and shape pelargoniums and geraniums for fuller flowering.

WASH leaves of indoor plants that are dusty. Re-pot if necessary. 

FEED the birds as winter is challenging for them to find essential food.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

View photos and read more at https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1226/Cynthia-Brians-Digging-Deep-Pass-the-mustard.html

Cynthia Brian

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.


Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

BE StarYouAre_Millennials to Boomers Cover.jpeghttp://wwwCynthia Brian'Growing with the Goddess Gardener book copy.jpg.cynthiabrian.com/online-store

Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.



Donate to Fire Disaster Relief via Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3 at www.BethestarYouAre.org


Mother Knows Best

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Mother Knows Best

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My mother said to me,

“If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general;

if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope. 

Instead, I became a painter & wound up as Picasso.”

~Pablo Picasso

Aren’t Moms the greatest? 

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a world-famous ball bouncer because I thought I was fairly great at bouncing balls and catching them. My mother told me to go for it. 

Then, of course, I added to my “want to be” numerous times while both of my parents applauded my bravado. My hands were either always writing or digging in the dirt and I wound up as The Goddess Gardener!

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When I lived in France I had the opportunity to investigate the majestic gardens of the charming chateaus. The elegant gardens mesmerized me, especially Château de Chenonceau spanning the River Cher in the Loire Valley where females ruled the designs. But it was the gardens of Impressionist artist Monet that influenced me most. The first time I visited his Giverny masterpiece, a profusion of magenta, pink, and purple tulips augmented by white bearded iris greeted me. It reminded me of my time living in the Netherlands where fields of tulips thrived amongst the windmills. The color scheme was enchanting.


After returning stateside, I determined to model my landscapes after Monet’s painter’s palette with plants that only reflected a variety of shades and hues of purple, pink, blue, and white. My Mother warned against such folly. “Gardens are filled with the colors of the rainbow. Just wait. Mother Nature will decide what’s best for your garden.” 


Of course,cynthia brian-books-events.jpg I didn’t listen because I had my mind set on a specific plan. I planted a variety of species that boasted my favorite colors including iris, gazania, lilac, wisteria, tulip, anemone, periwinkle, jasmine, ice plant, freesia, candytuft, azalea, camellia, fuchsia, rose, rhododendron, and more. For the first two years, my landscape did resemble an Impressionist painting. It was spectacular. azaleas.jpg

Then a seventeen-day freeze occurred killing most of my plantings. When spring arrived, many of the plants sprouted once again but this time they were yellow, orange, white, or red. The hybrids had reverted to their native colors after the freeze. Mother Nature was teaching me who was in charge.

I embraced my Mother’s approach to gardening to allow all the colors of the rainbow to shine in my garden. Soon the burgundy grew next to the orange gazania, and yellow daffodils sang along with the fluorescent pink ice plant. The effect has been stunning.

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My Mom also warned against invasive plants that mask as attractive: ivy, mint, Mexican primrose, vinca, jasmine, and the worst of which is Euphorbia esula, also known as leafy spurge.  All of these grow in my garden and I am constantly pulling, prodding, and attempting to keep these handsome, yet insidious species in check. 

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Although lovely mixed with flowers cascading from a container, in the ground, ivy climbs and chokes trees, killing them. Ivy is also a favorite habitat for rats. Mint is delicious muddled in mojitos and chopped into salads, but not so exciting when it spreads to your lawn. Mexican primrose with its dainty pretty pink flowers spreads quickly jumping into spaces where other plants are preferred. It looks dreadful when it develops powdery mildew towards fall. Vinca major (big leaf periwinkle) may take years to become invasive but with conditions of deep shade, it can smother the diversity of other plants with its very dense vegetation. Cut it back or pull out the stragglers. Jasmine has the most beautiful fragrance, especially in the evening. A few cut blossoms perfumes entire rooms, however, this vine twines around bushes and flora smothering the entire plant. It is critical to contain these plants and keep them in check by pruning and pulling out the ones growing in places you don’t desire.

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Which leads me to the worst invasive in my landscape––euphorbia esula, commonly known as green spurge or leafy spurge. A single pot of euphorbia is charming with its magnetic chartreuse leaves and yellowish green bracts. The problem begins when the seed capsules explode sending seeds fifteen or more feet in the distance. If allowed in bare soil, the complex root system spreads rapidly both horizontally and vertically for many yards. In spring the plants grow three or four feet high, blocking sunlight, stealing the water and nutrients from other plants. Toxins in Euphorbia esula prevent other plants to thrive. Deer and rabbits won’t eat it, although goats and sheep tolerate it. The milky sap is a skin irritant to humans. If left unchecked, this invader will take over hills, dales, and neighborhoods.  The striking euphorbia esula encompasses a hillside, yet I am not willing to let trespassers into my formal beds. Daily I patrol and pull out the intruders. 

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A cavalcade of color delights me in my spring garden. Currently boasting beautiful blooms are bergenia, lavender, ranunculus, Dutch iris, bearded iris, rose, forget-me-not, daffodil, tulip, calla lily, California poppy, snowball, snowdrop, blue star, geranium, calendula, citronella, hyacinth, ice plant, wisteria, lilac, snapdragon, cyclamen, oleander, Jupiter’s beard, azalea, fuchsia, breath of heaven, camellia, hellebore, nasturtium, sweet alyssum, osteospermum, cornflag, clematis, mock orange, petunia, wood hyacinth, alpine strawberry, fava beans, and a plethora of other splendid multicolored species.

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My gardener Mom was right about being inclusive with garden color and watchful for the expansion of invasive vigorous vegetation. It is always good to have a guide on the side. Mother Nature will always have the final say.

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I recently visited my daughter to help with her landscaping needs. When I asked her what she wanted me to plant, she responded, “Mom, you always know best!” 

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A Mother ‘s Gardening Guide for May from Cynthia Brian 

  • WARNING! Don’t buy Euphorbia esula no matter how much it captivates you, as it is not containable. 
  • BUY your Mother the perfect garden gift for Mother’s Day, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and receive a plethora of extra goodies that she’ll love. Visit http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store
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  • EMPTY standing water from any receptacle as mosquitoes are breeding including birdbaths and animal water bowls. Check rain gutters and storm drains. Stock ponds with mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) which are free from vector control,
  • WEED while the soil is still moist, digging up the roots. The smaller the weed, the easier it is to pull out. Don’t allow the plant to go to seed.
  • REPLENISH mulch as it decomposes. Mulch deprives weeds and seeds of sunlight while enriching the soil. Add three inches to beds and keep a few inches away from tree trunks.
  • FERTILIZE roses with alfalfa meal to add acid to the soil. 
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  • PREVENT ants from protecting aphids around bushes and trees by using sticky barriers.
  • LEAVE grass clippings on lawns to provide nutrients and don’t mow when the lawn is wet.
  • VISIT the Be the Star You Are! booth at the Moraga Faire to pick up complimentary potpourri to celebrate Mother’s Day and buy raffle tickets for the opportunity to go to an A’s batting practice to meet the players. http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org/events
  • PATROL for invasive species and eradicate them from your yard.
  • ATTRACT beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden by planting swaths of aster calendula, California poppy, fennel, and Queen Anne’s lace.
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  • PREPARE your vegetable garden. Check your local nursery to buy edibles you enjoy, specifically tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.
  • PLANT color spots of petunia, begonia, cosmos, and marigolds.

Wishing every Mother a month of peace, joy, health, and love. Thank you for being and knowing best!

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1205/Cynthia-Brians-Gardening-guide-for-May-Mother-Nature-knows-best.html

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.amaryllis afternoon.jpg


Cynthia Brian

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.

Buy a copy of the new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Available for hire for projects and lectures.



Weed, Feed, Seed

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Weed, Feed, Seed


“Nothing is so beautiful as spring when weeds, in wheels, shoot long, and lovely, and lush…” Gerard Manley Hopkins

While cleaning out our parent’s ranch home I found a book published in 1918 belonging to my grandfather. The title is The Herbalist by Joseph E. Meyer, 1878-1950.  The cover showcased a line drawing of an apothecary’s garden. The first page warns in big bold letters “Special Attention: The botanical materials, medications, and recipes of this book are not intended to replace the services of physicians.”

Being the major gardener and herbalist that I am, I was thrilled to discover this tiny tome filled with information that is pertinent over a hundred years after publication to those of us who love to grow our own food. After reading about the anatomy of plants, the epitome of botany, and the medicinal uses of plants, I excitedly went into the garden to find weeds to feed me. Then of course, it was time to throw seeds to beautify what will become my late spring landscape.

Since the rain and hail we experienced in March, weeds are ubiquitous. Before seeding, weeding is essential. If you like to be adventurous while consuming a nutritional boost, separate the dandelions from other discarded weeds. Dandelions originated in Greece and have been enjoyed as greens in salads or sautés for centuries. Dandelions provide calcium, vitamin K, vitamin A, E. riboflavin, and iron. The dried root is a beneficial home remedy as a diuretic plus dandelions inhibit inflammation.  Consider adding this food to your menu.

After a thorough weeding, it’s time to seed the garden with beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables. Always choose quality seeds. Plant seeds in the correct light situations. Refer to seed packets for information when the most auspicious planting window is and where the plants will thrive. Make sure to prepare the soil properly by weeding and composting or buy good soil.


When planting indoors, choose a south or west-facing window to provide adequate light and warmth. Natural light is always best for helping seeds to sprout but you can always purchase grow lamps. Fluorescent tubes will work when placed two to four inches above the seedlings and left on for eighteen hours per day. If you are planting on a porch, be mindful of frosty evenings where you’ll need to provide heat.  Speed seed germination with a heat mat that you place under trays or containers and remove the heat mat once the seeds have sprouted.

A container for planting seeds can be anything that is at least two-three inches deep with a drainage hole. You can use milk cartons, cell packs, recycled plastic, or clay pots. Even old coffee mugs can be re-purposed as long as you add gravel to the bottom.  Get creative, re-purpose, and re-cycle.  

Keep the soil moist but not soggy. When a plant has two sets of leaves it’s time to feed them with a half-strength fertilizer and get them to sunny locations outdoors as often as possible.

I prefer to sow directly in the ground and have experimented with seeding as early as March. However, my experience has instructed me to spread seeds when the soil is warm in late April, thinning as necessary. Follow instructions on seed packets for best results. Keep in mind that you will not have 100% germination. Sow an amount of seeds that is several times the amount you wish for best results. For small seeds like arugula and greens, I carefully scatter attempting not to have the seeds clumped in one area. All plants need room to spread. For plants growing in cells or trays, I usually transplant in May and have found that these plants tend to do better than those that were planted in early spring. Planting in sets of odd numbers, three, five, seven, nine, or more provides a cohesiveness and richness of texture.

Growing a beautiful garden from seeds is easy and inexpensive. You may have to provide netting to keep hungry birds, roaming rabbits, and ravenous deer out of your yard. 

Spring is a time to weed, seed, and feed, both metaphorically and literally. I love experimenting in my garden and hope that a hundred years from now my books will be as relevant to readers as The Herbalist is.

Seeds to start indoors or in a greenhouse:


Brussels Sprouts






Perennial Flowers

Seeds to sow in containers or directly in the garden:




















Swiss Chard




Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for April

  • CONTROL snails with organic treatments. You can hand pick them, put out bowls of beer, add copper tape to ornamentals, throw egg shells in affected areas, or scatter Sluggo. Eliminate watering at night when snails feed. They multiply and flourish in the wet and damp. In dry weather they will retract into their shells sealing off the opening with mucus. Snails can be dormant for four years.
  • RAKE lawns to remove debris and aerate. If fertilizer is needed, this is the time to apply.
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  • DON’T eat the mushrooms growing in your yard unless you are certain they are edible. Consult a mycologist as many mushrooms are toxic and potentially fatal if ingested.mushroons growing in garden (1).jpg
  • VISIT Wildlife Earth Day at Wagner Ranch in Orinda on Sunday, April 22 from 11:30-4pm. Several community organizations will also present earth-friendly endeavors. I will be autographing my newest book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener as well as talking about botanicals.  For more information on this nature-lover’s event organized by the naturalist guru, Toris Jaeger, visit https://fwrna.org/wildlifefest/
  • PLANT agastache, columbine, penstemon, salvia, and trumpet vine to attract hummingbirds. When the threat of frost is finished, hibiscus, bougainvillea, and citrus can planted. 
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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 or go find your seats to buy directly at https://groupmatics.events/event/Bestar
  • EAT your dandelions for a wealth of nutritional and medicinal benefits. And Italian proverb instructs ““He who wants to eat a good supper should eat a weed of every kind.”
  • WALK in the woods, a park or hug a tree to get your dose of forest bathing known as the Japanese tradition of shinrin-yoku.
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  • SAVOR springtime. It’s the bugle baby for beauty, fragrance, and new life.cynthia brian.jpg

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1203/Cynthia-Brians-April-Gardening-Guide-Weed-seed-feed.html

Cynthia Brian

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.

Buy a copy of the new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Available for hire for projects and lectures.



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The Language of Trees

Posted by Editor on
The Language of Trees

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“The ax forgets, the tree remembers.” African Proverb

Do trees have feelings? Do they communicate with one another? As I watch the leaves unfurl and the blossoms bursting on the trees in my landscape, I have a sense that my trees are talking and communing with one another. With the celebration of Earth Day on the horizon, this was an opportune moment to research the language of trees.

At the insistence of his wife, German forester, Peter Wohleben, authored an accidental best seller, The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate. The two of them live in a cabin in the remote village of Hummel where Peter manages a nature reserve.  He has become a spokesman of sorts for protecting and respecting the rights of trees.

Although trees don’t form words as humans do, they do communicate, and are more alert, sophisticated, and social that we expected. Trees form alliances with other trees of both their own species and others to survive and thrive.  They connect via underground fungal mycorrhizal networks, a symbiotic relationship between tree roots and fungi. As they scavenge for nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients, the fungi consume thirty percent of the sugar photosynthesized from sunlight then feed the trees. This fungal internet of thin threads known as mycelium also can also transport toxins to keep competing plants from establishing nearby. Eucalyptus and sycamore commonly exhibit this behavior. Biologists have termed fungi to tree communication the “wood wide web” showcasing how interconnected and interdependent nature is.

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Using pheromones and scent signals, trees also talk through the air. Research was done several years ago with acacias on the savannas of Africa. When giraffes began chewing on the leaves of the thorny acacia, the tree sensed the wound sending a distress signal in the form of ethylene gas to neighboring acacias. The trees receiving the message of imminent danger pumped quantities of tannins into their leaves, which can kill an herbivore.

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Trees differentiate between an animal attack and a human cutting a limb. When a branch breaks or is sawed off, the tree sends chemicals to heal the wound. And trees remember.

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Trees also have a sense of smell and taste. When  an elm or pine is attacked by leaf-eating caterpillars, the affected trees detect the saliva. Pheromones are released to attract parasitic wasps. The wasps lay eggs inside the caterpillars, and the wasp larvae eat the caterpillars from the inside out. 

Dr. Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist with the University of British Columbia is renowned for her extensive scientific research into mycorrhizal networks and “hub trees” or “mother trees” as she prefers to call the biggest, oldest forest trees. Mother trees are not necessarily female but they do have the most fungal connections to nurture and support the saplings.  Their deep roots suck up water and send it to fellow trees along with other nutrients and distress warnings. Her lab studies found that defense signals traveled between a diversity of trees within six hours. Not all scientists agree with Simard and Wohleben that trees are sentient beings. Several scientists have countered that plants and trees do not possess intelligence and are instead genetically programmed by natural selection to do a job automatically. 

Being the nature aficionado that I am, I vote for team Simard and Wohleben. Over the past few years I’ve been carefully studying my hillside pine trees as they twist to be closer to each other. Although each tree was originally planted to give a wide berth for each canopy to grow straight and tall in an effort to reach optimum sunlight, as the trees matured they tended to gravitate towards one another, mingling their branches. The pine that was planted furthest away from its siblings actually lurched sideways forming an arch until its branches touched the closest pine. I can’t help but think that this small group considers itself a forest family or at least very dear friends. When my “mother” Japanese maples leafs out, the other two develop their leaves within two days. My fruit trees of the same species always bloom together as if on orchestral cue. The willows in the creek appear to be supporting the oaks and bays with a communal sharing of resources.

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Simard detects a spiritual expression in the forest and Wohleben has been accused of being a tree hugger, although he states that he doesn’t believe trees respond to human hugs. We do know for certain that trees provide beauty while cleaning the air, combating climate change, and absorbing CO2. They provide oxygen, keep us cool, prevent erosion, supply us with food, offer playtime for kids, and help us heal faster. Trees furnish us with wood for homes, furniture, and warmth while allowing wildlife to flourish and reside in their branches.  An area without trees feels arid, vulnerable, and ugly. 

Trees are our allies and they are definitely talking to us. Clear cutting and climate change will kill our trees and our forests. We need to plant trees to capture carbon and encourage kids of all ages to climb big trees. We need to acknowledge that global warming is real and that our trees are desperately warning us of the disasters to come if we don’t create a movement for change. We need to listen to our vegetation as their memories are living, long, and lasting. 

We are all one interdependent, interconnected community. Stop. Look. Listen. Learn the language of trees and celebrate Earth Day with me. 

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide for April

  • VISIT Wildlife Earth Day at Wagner Ranch in Orinda on Sunday, April 22 from 11:30-4pm. Several community organizations will also present earth-friendly endeavors. I will be autographing my newest book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener as well as talking about trees, flowers, and other botanicals.  For more information on this nature-lover’s event organized by the naturalist guru, Toris Jaeger, visit https://fwrna.org/wildlifefest/, https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1204/Red-legged-frogs-and-friendly-goats-welcome-visitors-to-Wagner-Ranch-Wildlife-Festival.html
  • ENJOY the lilacs and wisteria in full bloom.
  • WATCH the leaves unfurl on your deciduous trees and become more aware of how different species of trees support one another. 
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  • REMOVE old foliage around the new growth of perennials.
  • PREVENT disease and rotting by keeping mulch several inches away from stems of plants and shrubs.
  • CREATE a habitat for birds that prefer staying close to the ground by making a small pile of twigs and clippings in your side yard. You’ll attract white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos. 
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  • ADD a clean birdhouse to your landscape for bird to make their nests. You’ll be the beneficiary of joyful tweets and twerps. 
  • UTILIZE the monthly gardening tips in the book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener available with free seeds, herbs, and more from http://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store.
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  • FERTILIZE fruit trees with a high nitrogen organic fertilizer. Best time is right before the bud break, although trees that need food can be fertilized through June. Don’t fertilize in summer or fall.
  • PICK tulips for indoor vases.
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  • BUY discounted baseball tickets to the June 15th Oakland A’s versus Los Angeles Angels directly at https://groupmatics.events/event/Bestar with a portion of proceeds benefitting the 501 c3 charity, Be the Star You Are® http://www.BetheStarYouAre.org 
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  • SCATTER pollinator friendly wild flower seeds to celebrate Earth Day.

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1204/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-The-language-of-trees.html

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Cynthia Brian

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.

Buy a copy of the new book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. 

Available for hire for projects and lectures.



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Sow Spring

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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.



Baby Blue Eyes

Baby’s Breath

Bachelor Buttons

Black Eyed Susan


















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.



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Gaelic Green By Cynthia Brian

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Gaelic Green By Cynthia Brian

“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rain fall softly on your fields. “-Irish Blessings

Although I don’t have an ounce of Irish in me, every March I get excited to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Besides the fact that the beloved rebirth of nature is officially only days away, my adoration of the Emerald Isle is deep rooted. My good fortune as a child was to be taught for eight full years by dedicated, intelligent Irish nuns, and to be mentored by Irish priests who had my best interests at heart. I danced throughout California in an Irish dance troop and one of my best friends in the world is my Irish pen pal whom I met through letters crossing the Atlantic at the age of eight. My Irish first grade teacher and I are still in constant correspondence. She always told me she kept a leprechaun in her pocket just in case she needed a trick or two. Fortunately I’ve been blessed to spend many weeks with these friends in their very green country where I’ve been officially christened an “honorary Irish woman”.

With the propensity of rain that we’ve enjoyed this past winter, our countryside is looking very much like the verdant island. As I look at the cattle grazing on the hill, I am reminded of my friend’s dairy farm in Limerick where the rich milk goes to produce Bailey’s Irish Cream. I milked those cows when I visited and was rewarded by a shower of hot manure on my hair. That was many years ago, but I’ll never forget the smell…and the laughter.

Since that time, I have always grown shamrocks, which here in America, we call oxalis a noxious weed. Nevertheless, I have a major fondness for the bright yellow or pink flowers of these shamrocks as I seek the rare four- leaf clover pattern. For each petal on the shamrock a wish of good health, good luck, and eternal happiness are bestowed. I’ll take all of the blessings and positive thoughts offered! If you are not a fan of shamrocks, plant baby tears in a shaded garden. They, too, are reminiscent of the Celtic spirit.

The good news is that spring is coming and with it an abundance of flowers and beauty. All you have to do is look around to witness the beautiful blossoms on pear and peach trees. My plums have already finished blooming and are leafing out. Rose bushes are budding. My calla lilies, daffodils, crocosimias, hyacinths, and tulips are abloom, spreading their joy and fragrance throughout the landscape.

It’s time to pull the weeds, prepare the soil, and get ready for a wonderful season of seeding and sowing.

May the luck of the Irish be with you!

Cynthia Brian’s Garden Guide for March

CUT budding branches from fruit trees to place in a vase to watch the petals open. Add a few drops of bleach to the water to prolong the blooms. A few sprigs of narcissus provide perfume to an entire room.

USE baby tears as a ground cover in shaded areas as a pretty green carpet.

CUT calla lilies to be used indoors in a vase. They will last two or more weeks as long as you replace the water regularly and add a drop of bleach or lemon juice to the water.

INVITE the wood nymphs, faeries, and leprechauns into your garden to help you with your chores by providing hiding places for these wee ones.

CLEANSE your indoor air with a container of peace lilies, also known as the sail plant.

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

PULL weeds as soon as the rains terminate. Leave weeds on hillsides to prevent erosion until the end of next month.

PREPARE your soil for next month’s planting by mixing your compost into the topsoil. Don’t roto-till unless you are creating a new garden bed as you don’t want to disturb the existing ecosystem that surely contains many worms.

FERTILIZE lawns, trees, and annuals with a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer. It’s best to fertilize your lawns when you know it’s going to rain to assure a deep feeding. The winter rains have definitely stripped our soil of nutrients making it necessary to boost the nutrition now. Remember to mow without the bag as the lawn cuttings are rich in nourishment for the grass.

TIME to re-seed or sod lawns. My preferred grass seeds are purchased from Pearl’s Premium. www.PearlsPremium.com . I also really like mixing in clover as it is self-fertilizing and always green. You do have to like having tiny white or pink flowers in your grass.

NET areas where you are seeding, both in gardens or grasss. The birds will be voracious eaters if you don’t protect your seedlings.

WEAR green on March 17th  and pin a clover on your collar or the banshees will be coming for you.

BUY packets of seeds for vegetables, vines, herbs, and flowers from companies you trust. Look for heirloom varieties and non-GMO. There are many companies to choose from including Renee’s Garden, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Plant Delights Nursery, White Flower Farm, Select Seeds, and many others.

CONTINUE to collect fallen camellias until the end of the blooming season. Do not let the dying or dead flowers remain on the ground or you’ll jeopardize the mother plant.

PRE-ORDER my forthcoming garden book, Growing with the Goddess Gardener, Book I in the Garden Shorts Series. All pre-orders will receive extra goodies such as heirloom seeds, bookmarks, and more. Email me for details, Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com. 25% of the proceeds benefit the 501c3 Be the Star You Are!® charity.

RELEASE your perfection attitude in the garden. Take your cues from the chaos that is nature. Let it go and let it grow!

SING a lullaby, dream of castles, kiss the Blarney Stone, and celebrate the vernal equinox with an Irish jig.

CONGRATULATIONS to Andy and Wendy Scheck for ten years of stellar publishing of the Lamorinda Weekly. I am honored and grateful to be a part of this elite writing team. Our community is better because of this newspaper.  Thank you!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing! Erin Go Bragh!

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Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, 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 at www.StarStyleRadio.net
Available for hire for any project.  

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