Cyn-rock garden

Digging Deep-Gardening with Cynthia Brian

By Cynthia Brian

“I have no special talents.
I am only passionately curious.” ~ Albert Einstein

Everyone seems to love the birds. After reading my previous month’s column, For the Birds, many people contacted me with stories of the birds in their gardens including hardwood floor installer and refinisher, Tom Gieryng.  He sent me photos and asked me to come see the numerous avian amenities he had installed in his garden. Birdhouses, bird feeders, fountains, and perches occupy every tree, wall, and crevice. Most were built by Tom, many were someone else’s trash turned into Tom’s treasure, and all of them have been embellished, hand painted, or given a touch of whimsy. Tom gave new life to tossed out items including wrought iron gates, hanging baskets, pots, tricycles, and even stained glass windows with his garden ingenuity.
Nonie's birdhouse night
Growing up in Poland, Tom was like most teens across the world. He looked forward to making enough money to buy nice clothes and go out with friends to party. His job was with a wood flooring company and at the time he didn’t realize this teenage occupation would become his life long career when he immigrated to America. After a few years of working for a flooring business in San Francisco, Tom wanted more creativity and control and opened his own company, TG Hardwood, where he was able to implement his own designs. Curiosity and a desire to reclaim discarded objects fuels his inventive nature both in his woodwork and outdoor spaces. After a hard day’s work, he finds inspiration, entertainment, and relaxation in his garden.

Gardens offer each of us a place to chill out, relax, and be inventive. In today’s high tech environment, the garden presents an instant environment to unplug, unwind, and be imaginative. When I’m in my garden, I lose track of time. Although pulling weeds, turning the soil, planting, pruning, watering, and paying attention to potential pests is work, it is invigorating, offering me precious time to think without the distraction of phones, emails, and pinging calendar appointments. Our gardens can be an extension of our artistic selves when we allow ourselves to be inquisitive. In my mother’s garden, an ancient walnut tree has become Nonie’s Bird Tree. She hangs feeders of all shapes and sizes attracting a variety of birds and hummingbirds. Vines twine around a rusted chicken chair in my front yard next to an antiquated tin birdhouse. Butterflies flit amongst the blooms and bees pollinate the various fruit trees.
stained glass-pots
Strolling with Tom through his garden, his obvious enthusiasm for his creations was contagious. Clients have given him cuttings of various species that he has transplanted and tended, many of them becoming prize possessions. Fuchsias, hydrangeas, roses, pelargoniums, geraniums, lavender, agapanthus, and numerous grasses found homes in his yard.  A waterfall cascades down the hill adding the sound of trickling water and a place for the frogs to congregate and the hummingbirds to drink and dip. It’s a haven for birds, butterflies, and bees…a true pollinator garden.

After my For the Birds publication, many readers asked how to attract other pollinators. To have a truly healthy garden, create a pollinator paradise. It’s easy to do.
You won’t need any special talents, just lots of curiosity, and this simple tip sheet.
hanging baskets
What you need to know and do to succeed at pollinator gardening
1. Use plants that provide pollen and nectar. Cosmos, salvia, oregano, penstemon, coneflowers, buddleia, marigold, gaillardia, phlox, milkweed, bee balm, zinnia, Black-eyed Susan, cilantro, sunflower, sweet alyssum, and wild flowers are excellent choices.
2. Provide a water source, such as a small water garden or birdbath.
3. Situate your pollinator garden in a sunny site with a windbreak.

4. Provide shelter from the elements with grasses, standing stalks, shrubs, and bushes.

5. Have plants that bloom continuously throughout the season including bulbs like crocus. Make sure the garden has blooms from spring to early winter.

6. Do not use pesticides near your pollinator plants.

Be passionately curious, then relax, rejuvenate, and re-invent, while attracting the pollinators-birds, bees, butterflies, bats, and more.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Tips for September

PLACE bird feeders in a natural area, specifically hanging from trees, and away from the house to deter rodents from establishing residence in your home.

PICK tomatoes to enjoy in these last two weeks of summer brilliance. According to the USDA, there are over 25,000 varieties of tomatoes.

GOT CLOVER? Clover is a positive plant in the garden and lawn because it grabs oxygen from the air and stores it in the soil. Birds pecking at your lawn are not eating it. They are dining on insects that could be harmful to your lawn. The birds are your friends indicating that your lawn has an invader.

EAT watermelon when it’s warm. Watermelon is actually a vegetable, not a fruit filled with 92% water. Time to make a watermelon popsicle. (The popsicle was invented in 1905…quite tasty history.)

DOWNLOAD a free pollinator guide for the United States and Canada at For the Lamorinda area, click on “California Dry Steppe”.

MARK your calendars for September 26th Pear and Wine Festival in Moraga. Stop by the Be the Star You Are! booth for free seeds and other give aways including a COMPLIMENTARY brand new book as part of the literacy outreach project, “Read, Lead, Succeed!” Info

BUY tulips, hyacinths, and crocus to refrigerate for six weeks before planting.

REGISTER your pollinator garden, large or small or even a container that provides pollen and nectar to bees, butterflies, bats, flies, etc at

RAKE fallen leaves to add to your compost pile along with your lawn clippings.

I’m off to speak at the National Gardening Symposium. Can’t wait to bring you the latest and greatest gardening tips from the harvests of horticulture professionals.
Happy Gardening and Happy Growing!
Read more:
Read September Garden Guide:

Press Pass:

Cynthia Brian
The Goddess Gardener
Starstyle® Productions, llc
I am available as a speaker, designer, and consultant.
Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show at