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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Brian

Wet, Wild Winter

A winter garden

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to just let it rain.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Rain, rain, and more rain! With the many years of drought experienced in California, how grateful we are for the lucky tears falling from the sky. However, as much as we prayed for rain, the non-stop abundance has been more than our parched soils can accommodate resulting in flooding, landslides, and toppling trees.

We all need to assess our landscapes with an eye towards potential lurking troubles.

Drains clogged with mud will cause flooding as I discovered on my patio. I dug out five gallons of mud from two drains located on the edge of my lawn and brick. The good news was the mud was filled with worms, which I relocated to other parts of my garden. Make sure your French drains, sump pumps, and downspouts are clean and functional. If you don’t have downspouts, a pretty and useful alternative is to install rain chains. Rain chains hang from the gutters allowing the water to trickle down the chain into a garden bed as opposed to just gushing from the gutter. The gentle tinkling sound is soothing and meditative.

The few days of sunshine we enjoyed have been a welcome respite helping us get repairs accomplished as well as finishing the final pruning of bushes and trees. As I cut the canes from my rose bushes, I experimented with planting many of my favorites in other parts of my garden, dipping the ends in a rooting solution first. I’ve done the same with my grapevines, pruning last year’s wood back to the second bud, then sticking a few of the cut canes into the soil along a wire fence.

Daffodils and narcissci are peeking their pretty heads as they awake from their winter slumber. What a marvel it is to see the sea of yellow on roadways, hillsides, and walking paths! Last month my home was filled with bouquets of fragrant roses. This month the sunny blooms of a variety of daffodils brighten my interiors. My Italian peach tree is budding with the expectation of an explosion of pink and crimson by St. Patrick’s Day. The croaks of the emerging frogs in the early evening remind me that the vernal equinox is rapidly approaching. With excitement, I am beginning my preparations for a wildly opulent spring.

EXERCISE your body, mind, and soul by pulling weeds on your flat land. I suggest allowing the weeds to remain on any banks or hillsides to help protect against erosion as rains are anticipated throughout the month. A recent Netherlands study discovered that thirty minutes of gardening reduces the stress hormone cortisol. Dig in.

SAVE money by planting vegetables and herbs that your family consumes regularly. What are your favorites? Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes, beets, carrots, and greens can all be planted now.

PREPARE new planting areas with enriched soils mixed with the compost you’ve been making. You do have a compost pile, don’t you? It’s never too late to start one.

GROW flowers in a cutting garden that will both attract pollinators and be used for new weekly flower arrangements to brighten your indoor experience. Coreopsis, Phlox, Salvia, Agastache, and Echinacea are always charmers.

FEED lawns this month with a high –nitrogen organic fertilizer as the winter rains have depleted the nutrients. Pull the weeds and eat the dandelions as long as you have not used a toxic spray on them.

BORDER your Rhododendrons and Heather with purple or while Alyssum as a pretty perennial edging.

INSPECT oak trees for oak moth larvae. If you see attractive black and yellow caterpillars crawling on the bark, call an arborist or tree professional for an inspection.

ENHANCE your landscape with the attractive Oregon Grape as a deer resistant choice.

CREATE a bold foundation garden of shade plants with Lady Ferns, Bleeding Hearts, Hostas, and Coral Bells.

FRESHEN your indoor spaces with Crotons, Snake Plants, or Peace Lilies.

ADD rain chains to your gutters in lieu of downspouts. Not only are they practical, many are artfully designed to beautify your architecture specifically in areas where downspouts would be an eyesore.

  • CHOOSE bulbs for your summer pleasure including Begonia, Dahlia, Gladiolus, Watsonia, and Calla Lily. Selections are available at your nursery and garden center.

EMBRACE a variety of grasses for your lawn to make it more drought and traffic tolerant. Clover is not only pretty in a lawn but it automatically fertilizes the soil with nitrogen by grabbing it from the air.

IMITATE Mother Nature’s posture of chaos by losing a “perfection” approach to gardening. Strive for biological beauty. “Flower” equals “flow”.

CULTIVATE an attitude of gratitude to grow in grace.

BE on the alert again this month for woodpeckers storing their acorns in holes they punch in your wooden walls.

GO native by adding Sage, Penstemon, Gazania, Red Hot Poker, and Columbine to your yard.

STAY warm and dry while it’s wet and wild! We appreciate the plentiful precipitation after years of drought drudgery.

EMAIL me for your spring consultation tune-up.

Let it rain! Let it rain! Let it rain!

Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!

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

Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at

Available for hire for any project.



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