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Let the Sun Shine In!

Posted by presspass on
Let the Sun Shine In!

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“The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy” 

Henry Ward Beecher 

It’s been at least seven years since we’ve enjoyed a warm, sun-filled February. Being accustomed to cold, dreary, gray days in the months of Aquarius and Pisces, this year buoyed my spirits immensely even though I know that we need rain. I admit I thoroughly lapped up those 70 plus degree days spending hours in the garden weeding, pruning, and planting with a break to Bodega Bay to ride a bike on the beach, inhale the salt air, and watch the glorious sunset. If winter is going to be mild and bright, why not enjoy it?

The tulip magnolias, peach, plum, and pear trees are in full bloom. The bees are busy buzzing their business in the blossoms. Sweet scents of narcissi, stock, and freesia fill the air. Oxalis, also known as shamrock, carpets vineyards, trails, and roadsides. Wisteria and lilac are budded, ready to burst any day. Early spring erupted in mid-February, a full month ahead of schedule. In many Northern California areas, temperatures have been in the mid-80s. If it wasn’t for water shortages and the rising trajectory of global warming, we could all be rejoicing. Instead, we may need to chant and dance for rainfall to ward off another summer drought.

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Compost will be your most important gardening ingredient this season. By turning organic waste into humus, you will be feeding your plants in the same manner that Mother Nature has been nurturing the planet since the beginning of time. Compost will help your plants retain moisture, curtail erosion, maintain a constant temperature, and it will enrich your soil. It’s so simple to make that everyone can easily do it. 

Recipe for Compost

In an open pile or composting bin, add both green and dry plant matter plus eggshells, coffee grinds, tea leaves, and fish bones. Green matter includes grass clippings, vegetables, weeds without seeds, peelings, and green leaves. Dry matter includes paper, straw, twigs, fall leaves, and dried stalks. Don’t add any animal feces, diseased plants, or meat products. Moisten everything without soaking it and turn with a pitchfork at least weekly. Worms may be added for speedier results. The compost will cook and steam. Add water as necessary if the pile is too dry. Your compost is ready to return to your garden when it smells earthy, sweet, and looks like a crumbly chocolate cake. I recommend creating two or three different piles as they will finish at different times and you can always have a batch cooking. Making your own compost is an excellent way to recycle with almost zero waste. As an added bonus it is FREE plant food!

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

CREATE simple arrangements with branches cut from blooming peach, pear, or plums. Add a few daffodils or freesias.

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BLOW the “angel” seeds of dandelions if you want dandelions growing in your garden. (This was a favorite past time as a child, although we weren’t allowed to blow “angels” into the lawn.) Dandelions are nutritious and delicious in salads and sautés and they attract quail.

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PICK lettuce, parsley, arugula, Swiss chard, and baby mustard to add to meals.

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MAKE an artful wall-hanging using a variety of succulents.

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ADMIRE the tulip magnolias as they emerge or cut a stem to enjoy indoors.

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WATCH for aphids, moths, slugs, and snails on artichoke plants as they mature. Blast the leaves with water if you see any infestation.

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TALK to your doctor if you are experiencing pollen-related allergies. Pollen fertilizes plants but causes misery for sufferers. Acacia trees are beautiful in bloom but may trigger hay fever or asthma.

AERATE and de-thatch lawns if necessary. Be prepared to scatter seeds and fertilizer before a rain.

SHOOT lots of photos of spring unfolding. 

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BEFORE recycling empty milk cartons, fill with water to use on houseplants. The residual calcium is good for the plants and it also rinses clean the cartons for the bins.

BUY your favorite seed packets in anticipation of sowing.

SPREAD alfalfa pellets mixed with diatomaceous earth around your rose bushes to promote large blooms and healthy plants.

The vernal equinox is still three weeks away. The sun is shining on our gardens and for all of us. It’s playtime. 

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing!


Photos and more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1401/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Let-the-sunshine-in.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. 

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


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Dream Green

Posted by presspass on
Dream Green


“A dreamer dreams that everyone else in his dream must awaken before he can awaken.”

~ Ramana Maharshi

After my column, the Power of RE was published, I received numerous positive comments about how readers were implementing RE into their lives. It is gratifying to know that people read my articles, but I’ve always wondered what people do with the information they receive. 

Orinda resident, Kathy Boyle, showed me. She wrote: “I was intrigued by your ideas in your Lamorinda Weekly article about the Power of REhttp://lamorindanews.com/archive/issue1323/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Garden-Trends-for-2020-Part-1-The-power-of-RE.html As I was reading your article, I was envisioning those ideas in the context of gardening and recycling in my everyday life.  But then that wonderful Cervantes quote inspired me to amplify the ideas to how I am trying to live my life, especially during these very odd times.” (“Take a deep breath of life and consider how it should be lived.” ~Miguel de Cervantes) 

An elementary school Resource Specialist for forty years, Kathy had learned the power and effectiveness of ideas being created as colorful bulletin boards for kids. Now in retirement, she uses doors, walls, windows, mirrors, and even the shower door as her special bulletin boards by designing colorful visual pages to inspire herself. She also crafts pocket cards to carry with her on her hikes in nature. Her innovations helped me re-imagine my dream for this 2nd part in the 2020 Trends series. Thanks, Kathy for sharing your talents and for reaching out. Your art has reinvigorated me.

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Green careers are on the rise. From Boomers to Generation Z, people are finally understanding the call of the wild. From watering vacation gardens to talking to struggling plants, jobs are waiting to be filled. Horticultural therapy and plant blogging can become full-time careers. As our climate warms and more natural disasters occur, it is time for everyone to wake up to dream green.

Growing up on our farm, to be “dirt poor” meant that we had plenty of land, but not enough money. I remember the first time I visited New York City when I was nineteen and witnessed tiny bags of “dirt” being sold for $5.00 and more. I telephoned home and told my Daddy that we could be rich if we packaged and sold our acres of dirt. He responded that there was a big difference between soil and dirt in our century. Healthy soil is rich in vitamins, minerals, and organic matter. Dirt doesn’t have any nutritional value and isn’t valuable for growing anything. Unfortunately, today soil has been stripped of its nutrients.  Erosion and deforestation have washed away one-third of the world’s topsoil. Crops are planted for yield, not for nutrition. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, if this negative trend doesn’t retreat soon, organically rich soil will be eliminated by 2050.

We have to dream green.

By embracing regenerative gardening practices, changing methods of farming and forestry, we can mitigate carbon and reverse the damage. We need to rebuild soil with organic matter, restore degraded soil, and reduce runoff. By composting, cover cropping, and no-tilling practices we can conserve wildlife and return to native soil. People are waking up to sustainability and the importance of caring for our environment. Composting reduces household waste by 40%. By growing organically, we revitalize the soil naturally. Planting cover crops of alfalfa, clover, beans, and mustard will control weeds and add nutrients to the soil. When planted in lawns, clover adds nitrogen to the earth, eliminating the need for additional fertilizer. 

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What about the greening of indoor spaces? Houseplants are connecting people with nature while cleaning the indoor air. Many young people have less income and live in smaller spaces. Succulents, bromeliads, peace lilies, snake plants, aloes, and fiddleleaf fig are easy to grow and long-lasting. Taking a class, attending a seminar, or watching how-to videos on YouTube are all terrific ways to learn more about growing nature inside.


Pollution, pesticides, UV radiation, and climate change are all leading to the destruction of habitat for amphibians and wildlife. If your garden is silent, it is not healthy. We need the croaking of the frogs, singing of the birds, and the hooting of owls. They keep our gardens vital by dining on mosquitoes, beetles, snails, rats, gophers, and other pests. Plant ferns near water sources to protect frogs, toads, and turtles. Submerge water lilies to oxygenate the water while providing cover.


Mushrooms are the trendy super-food of 2020.  Some species of fungi eat plastic and could help with rapid plastic decomposition. Edible mushrooms can prevent or treat hundreds of conditions. Although you don’t want to forage unless you are certain that a mushroom is not poisonous, if you want to grow mushrooms, inoculated logs can be purchased.

Being “woke” is a popular refrain these days. If we are going to dream green, we have to wake up to smell the roses. 2020 is the year that we must conceive unique sustainable ideas so that we achieve a world where we can breathe, live, and enjoy.

Implement the power of RE and dream green.

water lily.jpghttps://www.CynthiaBrian.com


Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for January

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BE AWARE of coyotes. I have had numerous reports of coyotes jumping backyard fences or digging under them to grab cats, chickens, rabbits, and small dogs. Since the autumn fires, food is sparse. and the coyotes are roaming neighborhoods. 

READ this Asbestos and Natural Disasters Guide that covers the impact of wildfires on structures made with asbestos:

California-specific: https://www.asbestos.com/states/california

DRY branches from tree trimmings for kindling.

BRIGHTEN your landscape, porch, or balcony by planting primroses which come in a variety of colors. 

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REPAIR broken pipes and irrigation systems while you have time.

PLANT bare root roses and fruit trees. Follow instructions on the packaging. Soak roots for a full 24 hours and cut off broken roots.  Plant the bud union 3 inches above the ground.

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REPOT potted plants you received as gifts of the holiday.  Remove wrapping to allow for good drainage.  Trim spent blossoms, water, and fertilize regularly.

REEDUCATE yourself about mulch: https://www.akhomeshow.com/mulch-information-guide.php

REREAD The Power of RE and incorporate RE into your personal, business, and gardening goals and resolutions for the year. http://lamorindanews.com/archive/issue1323/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-Garden-Trends-for-2020-Part-1-The-power-of-RE.html

REST. It is winter and time for a break. Sit by the fire on non-Spare the Air days. Drink hot cocoa or hot mulled wine. Dream a green dream. 


Photos and more: http://lamorindanews.com/archive/issue1324/Digging-Deep-with-Cynthia-Brian-2020-Garden-Trends-Part-2-Dream-green.html

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 Are!® 501 c3. 

Tune into Cynthia’s StarStyle® Radio Broadcast at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-storecyntha brian with books.jpg. 


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




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