Journey 306: Bringing the Outdoors In

We’ve experienced beautiful weather this fall, with days of warmer than normal temperatures and abundant sunshine. As we’ve moved into November, such days truly are gifts. After work was completed this afternoon, I heeded the siren call of the backyard garden and headed outdoors. 



This area hasn’t had a hard freeze yet, so my garden teems with life, from flowers that are blooming again, to praying mantises sunning themselves. Yet I know cooler temperatures are coming. It was the perfect afternoon to putter in the garden and begin winterizing while enjoying my personal paradise. 


My sister Debbie gifted me with a variety of seeds this summer. I couldn’t resist sowing some in a large metal container. The safflowers are blooming! I’ll transplant the other young plants into pots and move them indoors. I started today with the English Lavender. 

I selected several containers, from among my vast collection, and moved these bright green, healthy lavender plants to their new homes. Their delicate scent clung to my fingers as I worked. I’m bringing these youngsters indoors where they can thrive and grow strong before being transplanted into the herb garden next spring. 


I discovered another reason this week, to bring several of my plants indoors, other than for their survival. According to a post I found on Natural Living Ideas, NASA has done a study on the benefits of being in an environment filled with living plants. Especially plants that purify the air while we sleep and help promote a healthy night’s slumber. The article lists the top twelve plants to keep in the bedroom. Number two on the list is lavender. Research shows that the scent of lavender slows down heart rate, and lowers blood pressure and levels of stress.  

I’ll nurture these plants and place a couple of containers of lavender in my bedroom, where they can nurture me in return. I wish now I had started more seeds. I’m learning. Each season, I learn more, adapt, create. That’s my journey, captured in my gardening experiences. In a few days, I’ll pot young Scottish thistle plants and try bringing them indoors for the winter. I have no idea what they will do. That’s the fun part of learning! 


If you’d like to see the entire list of plants that aid sleeping, click HERE

Journey 220: Thistle Seeds

Early in the spring, as I planted in containers and filled in spots in the garden, I visited a variety of garden centers in Missouri and Arkansas. I found lots of amazing plants. However, although I searched every botany shop that I stopped at, I never found thistle plants. Because of my Scottish heritage, and as memorials of my visit to Scotland last year and my cousin Mindy, who traveled with me to our homeland and then journeyed on into eternity in January, I wanted thistle plants.

seeds Debbie

I gave up the search for this year. And then, my beautiful younger sister, Debbie, surprised me with seeds. She found them online and ordered them for me. She attended Bob Moore’s funeral this past week and she arrived bearing gifts for me, precious seeds. Not only did she purchase Scottish Thistle for me…she also gave me Milk Thistle, Safflower, and English Lavender seeds.

seeds handful of thistle

It is late in the year to be sowing seeds, but I couldn’t resist. On this warm but very beautiful evening, I was out in the backyard garden, scattering seeds. I planted half of them and saved the rest to sow next spring. There is time for these seeds to sprout and thrive. I can pot them in containers and bring them indoors for the winter, if I so choose. I’ve had a large metal box, with handles, that I have saved. I didn’t know what I was saving it for, but it has remained empty all summer….until tonight. Filling it with potting soil, I divided the surface into four zones and scattered seeds in each area.

seeds metal box

English Lavender went into the first section. Lavender is a herbaceous plant that has fragrant stems, leaves and flowers, in pinks, purples or whites. It is a great addition to any garden, whether in the herbal section or a cottage or border garden. Uses are many and include dried flowers, teas, sachets, potpourri, beauty products and herbal remedies.

seeds english lavender

Milk Thistle is another type of thistle, as its name implies, with red to purple flowers. As a herbal remedy, milk thistle is excellent for liver health and to promote bile flow. It is considered effective in cleansing the body of toxins and even in combating cancer. I have never had this plant before either, so I am excited to add it to my apothecary garden. Thistles are considered invasive, so I will be growing them in containers as I study their habits.

seeds milk thistle

Safflowers are considered one of humanity’s oldest cultivated plants. It too is a thistle like plant with red, orange or yellow flowers. Commercially, the safflower plant is grown for the oil that is extracted from the seeds. The oil can be used for cooking and also has medicinal properties for heart health, and can be used to treat fevers, coughs and breathing problems. This plant is new to me as well.

seeds safflower

Scottish Thistle, the national flower of Scotland, has grayish green stems and leaves and flowers that range from pink to purple. It is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character and has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III, 1249-1286. According to legend, an invading Norse army, attempting to sneak up at night on a Scottish encampment, inadvertently stepped on thistle plants, which caused them to cry out in pain. Those cries alerted the Scots, who routed the Norse army. The lowly thistle, which grows everywhere in Scotland, was elevated to their national symbol as a result. I am so thrilled to have seeds to grow my own thistle, symbol of Scotland and my roots, beauty and travel. I will think of Mindy as well, any time I look at Scottish Thistle in my garden.

seeds scottish thistle

I wanted a fun way to identify which sections contained which seeds, in my metal box. I wrote the flower names on wooden clothes pins and attached them to sticks I found in the yard. This was a simple and effective choice for markers, and it has a rustic charm. I like it. I’ll mist the soil every day, maybe twice a day, in this heat, and watch for the little sprouts to appear. Thank you, Debbie, for not only buying me the seeds, but for knowing my heart so well. I’m smiling ear to ear, old gardening clothes on, hair pulled back in a ponytail, the cloying scent of bug spray clinging to me, and feeling wonderfully content. I love your surprise….and you!

seeds completed box