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Mother Knows Best

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Empowerment
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.

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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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

Weed, Feed, Seed

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Empowerment
Weed, Feed, Seed

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“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.

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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:

Broccoli

Brussels Sprouts

Cabbage

Cauliflower

Eggplants

Peppers

Tomatoes

Perennial Flowers

Seeds to sow in containers or directly in the garden:

Arugula

Basil

Beans

Beets 

Carrots

Cilantro

Corn

Cucumbers

Greens

Herbs

Kale

Melons

Nasturtiums

Parsley

Parsnips

Peas

Penstemon

Radishes

Spinach

Swiss Chard

Squash

Sunflowers

Zinnias

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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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The Language of Trees

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Empowerment
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.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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Sow Spring

Posted by Editor on
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Empowerment
Sow Spring

 

freezias succulents.jpgBy Cynthia Brian

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

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

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

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

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Sow Spring Seeds

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

Alyssum

Aster

Baby Blue Eyes

Baby’s Breath

Bachelor Buttons

Black Eyed Susan

Bluebell

Calendula

Candytuft

Cornflower

Clarkia

Coreopsis

Cosmos

Forget-Me-Not

Gaillardia

Hollyhock

Lavatara

Marigold

Poppy

Stock

Strawflower

Sunflower

Zinnia

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

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

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Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

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

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

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

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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

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

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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March On and Spring Forward

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Empowerment
March On and Spring Forward

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

It all started with a box of toothpicks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garden Happenings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live in truth. Live in nature.

Cynthia Brian’s Gardening Guide for March

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

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

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

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing.

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

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

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

Available for hire.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

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