Archive for the ‘In the Garden’ Category


Lavender Finds a Friend

Book Recommendation


I’ve never lived in a flower garden with fairy friends; however Cicely Mary Barker’s book, “Lavender Finds a Friend” helps me to imagine the experience. The fragrance, the sounds of bees and birds and the natural beauty fills the story with vivid imagery.

Sleepy Lavender gets up with the sun singing to the other fairies to awaken them. Lavender washes the fairies’ clothes. One day she is sad because she is too busy with laundry to have friends. Lavender expresses her sadness in her diary. Then she concocts a friendly fairy spell, casts it and waits for the result. Cornflower, Snapdragon and Foxglove step out of the flower bed to declare their friendship for Lavender.

I love this story primarily for its sweet whimsy. Beyond that however, this story demonstrates the power of self-expression, reflection, the written word and positive action. We all have more power than we exercise. Next time I’m feeling a bit blue, I’ll do what Lavender did and cast a friendly spell.

What did Lavender put in her spell? This is the best part. Here are her ingredients:

  •      A sprinkle of lavender petals
  •      A drop of dew
  •      A dash of fairy dust
  •      A whisper of moon sparkle
  •      A tiny fairy giggle

With ingredients like these, is it any wonder the spell gave Lavender exactly what she desired?

Find out more about this book at http://www.flowerfairies.com/

 p.s. I bought this book for my granddaughter when she was five years old. If you want your children and grandchildren to appreciate the flowers in your garden, learn their names and treasure their whimsical beauty, this book is a first step.

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Kwan Yin

Kwan Yin

When I was asked to speak to the Washington State Federation of Garden Clubs, I learned about the Bastyr University Medicinal Herb Garden. JoAnne Gold had invited me to come to this meeting and to talk about cooking with lavender. After my talk, she asked if I’d ever visited Bastyr’s herb garden and handed me a brochure with its hours, directions and how it is organized.  I was impressed with her thoughtful kindness. I explained that I had always wanted to see it, but somehow never got around to it. As I was thanking her, I pledged to set some time aside and visit the garden soon.

Last Sunday morning with the October sun shining brightly, I drove to Kenmore, an east-side suburb of Seattle. Bastyr University’s building used to be St. Edward’s Seminary, an institution for developing Catholic priests. The Seminary closed in 1976. The State of Washington bought most of the property (316 acres). Bastyr University leased the seminary building in 1977 and in 2005 bought out their lease.

I have a dim memory of visiting St. Edward’s as a child. When I think about that visit, I remember tall trees and vast green fields of lawn, maybe we were there for a family picnic.

On Sunday, I was there to see the herb garden. The garden is divided into ten sections. The center of the garden is devoted to nine Physiological Systems Beds containing 100 key medicinal plants that support each body system.

Gastrointestinal Section

The physiological systems represented are:

  • Brain and central nervous system
  • Reproductive system
  • Genito-urinary system
  • Respiratory system
  • Immune and lymphatic system
  • Digestive system
  • Musculoskeletal system
  • Endocrine system
  • Cardiovascular system

Lavender's label nearly crowded out my monkshood

I looked around for lavender wondering where it would be classified. I’ve read claims about the health benefits lavender delivers to each of these systems.  There it was in the section labeled “Brain and Central Nervous System.”  I would have liked to hear the rationale for including it here. I’m guessing lavender’s ability to soothe the spirit, calm the nerves and induce sleep made it a prime candidate for this section.

What were some of the other herbs that fell into this category?  St. John’s Wort, Monkshood, Oats and German Chamomile are growing there along with lavender.

I am glad I’d visited this garden, it made me think more about the modern health system and how we’ve built an industry to create drugs for everything from insomnia to impotence. Our doctors tell us to take drugs to lower our blood pressure and reduce our cholesterol. Maybe these drugs do more harm than good, but I confess I’m a bit skeptical. Bastyr University gives me hope that educating people about their healing power of herbs will result in a more natural way to maintain our health.

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How Do Cats Get High?

Why do cats love to snuggle up to lavender plants? I was in my garden weeding when I noticed the fluffy orange cat out of the corner of my eye.Cat Looking for Lavender Something about the way the cat approached the flower bed seemed stealth-like. She cased out the landscape as she sat on the curb.

The creature walked slowly and quietly toward the flower bed with my blooming lavender plant.

My Flower Garden

This feline tiptoed into the flower bed and then plopped herself down in the middle of my English lavender. I watched in wonder.

She stepped out back on the warm sidewalk and stretched out for a little relaxation.

A few minutes passed. The cat began rolling around in the lavender in a playful way. That’s when I remembered. Lavender belongs to the mint family. Another member of this extensive family is catnip. Catnip’s Latin name is Napeta Cataria. Catnip, a herbaceous perennial, periodically dies back to the ground and then resumes growth from the root structure. Marijuana is a distant cousin to catnip.

Cats go crazy for catnip, so now I understand why cats in my neighborhood can’t resist my lavender garden.  

Gray Cat in Pansy Garden

Murray, a neighbor's cat, discovers lavender in my garden behind the pansies.

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