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Erin go Bragh!

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Empowerment
Erin go Bragh!

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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. 
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  •  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

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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

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How You & Your Child Can Thrive Through Personal Style by Hemda Mizrahi

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How You & Your Child Can Thrive Through Personal Style by Hemda Mizrahi

How can you present a true, clear message about who you are, both at home and at work? Personal Style Coach Allison Hamilton-Rohe reveals her formula during a guest appearance on my Internet radio show, “Turn the Page”

Our dialogue about launching you on your style journey continued after the show, when Allison offered an example of powerful personal style: “Look at the amazing Duchess of Windsor, whose husband literally gave up his kingdom and chose exile over life without her. While she was not a “classic” beauty, her charisma and appeal were undeniable — especially for her King!” This is one of the ways that personal style is distinct from fashion. The common personal style thread across your lifetime is YOU, what flatters and matters to you most, what you aspire to be and do.

Once you experience how the language of style can move you past image anxiety and into a more fulfilling reality, you’ll appreciate the benefits of discovering it earlier in life. Hopefully, this will motivate you to pass the learning onto younger generations, including your children and grandchildren.

Allison references Carol Dweck’s book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” in identifying ways you can support your child in achieving a positive self-image. Dr. Dweck’s research indicates that 40% of your happiness is a product of how you see yourself, and the corresponding choices you make.

As a parent or guardian, how can you help your youngster to look and feel good? These are strategies that Allison’s own kids have embraced:

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.
The number one thing you want to encourage, instill and empower your children to feel towards themselves, their bodies AND their style is love. You can do this any number of ways!

GIVE CONFIDENCE-BOOSTING COMPLIMENTS.
Dr. Dweck suggests offering process rather than person praise. This involves acknowledging repeatable behaviors that can reinforce a praiseworthy character trait, skill, action, or outcome. For example, rather than saying “you look pretty,” be specific about what you appreciate: “I love how those barrettes bring out the sky blue color of your eyes.”  A statement like this encourages your child to feel proud about doing something well. In contrast, “person praise” can create self-doubt when something goes awry, like the physical changes and emotional reactions that might occur at the onset of puberty!

INSIST ON LOVE.
When you’re shopping with your children or going through their wardrobes, only buy/keep things they love.  If they need a new coat, find a coat they love.  If you have a sense of their style and size, shop online with them.  You might select a few items and then ask them to look at the order before making the purchase. Ask them one question only: “Do you love what I’ve picked out for you?” If they say no, delete it. No exceptions. This sets a precedent that style is something that feels good and they can enjoy.

MAINTAIN STANDARDS.
It’s okay to insist that your children brush their hair and teeth, clean their bodies, and wear clothes that aren’t ripped. This is basic grooming. It’s important to teach your children these habits early on so they’re prepared when the time comes for them to “dress to impress.” It may take energy and patience, and consistent practice works.

Allison shares a personal illustration: “I posted a picture checklist by my kids’ door that I ask them to check everyday. They receive a star each time they complete their list. When they master a skill, I give them a bonus and we celebrate. Now, if I notice they forgot to brush their hair, all I have to say is, “Checklist?” and they go, “Oh!  Whoops!” and run back upstairs.” This tactic can be adapted to the specifics of your household. If you have a special needs child, creating a visual map of the checklist and breaking down tasks can be helpful. Teaching basic self-care is deeply important to preparing a child to be an independent adult.

ALLOW FOR PLAY.
If you’re dressing up for a party and your child is dying to wear a dress that’s a bit over-the-top, or put on lipstick, don’t sweat it.  If your kid puts on a shirt and pants that don’t match well and he’s three, let it go! If your son wears pink or your daughter wears combat boots, offer the freedom of experimentation. Allison reflects on rejoicing in her daughter’s self-expression: “I bought my daughter a button that read, “I dressed myself today. I loved posting her wacky outfits on Facebook.” Style can be fun and it allows kids to play with who they want to be. Allow your kids to enjoy it!

ENCOURAGE SELF-EXPRESSION.
Your kid is going to be who she is. If you do your job well, she’ll value her unique qualities and use them to propel her purpose in the world. If your kids settle into a style that unsettles you, have a conversation about the power of style and what it means for first impressions.  Allow your children to be in control of the message, and check in to ensure it’s the message they truly want to send. If not, work with them to change it. If your son loves his style and it STILL unsettles you, enlist a family therapist to address the underlying issues both for you and your child.

Identifying with any of these strategies as ones you’d like to adopt for yourself? Go for it!  Your example is the best guide for your children. If you’re kind to yourself, insist on love, maintain standards, allow yourself to play, and encourage your own self-expression through style, they will, too!

If you need expert guidance along the way, contact Allison through www.dailyoutfit.com. Mention this blog in booking a session on the “Work With Me” page of her site, and read on through her free newsletter and blog posts, including this one on “back-to-school” shopping sprees: http://www.dailyoutfit.com/2014/08/top-10-tips-to-make-back-to-school.html

If you haven’t yet listened to Allison’s guest appearance on my show, we invite you to learn about the three key components of her personal style formula. Find out how personal style can work for you

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