Newest Review: ... died anyway so a couple of years later I bought another one and again the same thing happened. Then I thought may be it was something to ... more
Member Name: QueenElf
Advantages: Easy to look after, lovely scents, self-seeds, actracts insects, has many uses, periniel
Disadvantages: Can get a bit bushy, but some count that an advantage
When I think of Lavender I visualize bushy plants with a heady scent, but the plant is more than just that. A staple of any garden from a stately house to humble cottage garden, lavender is a wonderful addition to any home.
Lavender is a hardy perennial, which means it comes back year after year. There are three main types, English, French and Dutch with several sub-varieties that help decide which is more suitable for your garden. It needs little caring for which is ideal for people who like a garden but don't have a lot of time to look after one. That said, it does need a light prune to keep it tidy, otherwise you'll soon have a bush on your hands.
Since it doesn't grow well from seed, it's best to buy a small potted plant and take cuttings once or twice a year. Your plant will treble in size within a year, making it inexpensive as well as easy to grow. Just decide on what you want and then dig a small hole, loosen the roots slightly and firm around, watering gently to give it a good start.
Color and scent
Well yes, the color is purple. Or is it? There are quite a few types that have pinkish flowers and there are quite a few shades of pale to dark purple. The leaves are green in summer, often changing to a silvery gray in winter, adding some much needed color to a dull day. Planted in early spring or autumn the flowers appear around about June to July and range from small bushy flowers to large spiky flower heads that can rise to ten or twelve inches above the foliage.
One of the most surprising things about the scent is that you can merely brush the plant on passing and a wonderful fragrance will linger around you for minutes at a time. It's nice to sit outside of a summer evening and enjoy the heady scent.
Where to Grow.
Lavender isn't a fussy plant and will do well in any well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. It adapts well to borders, rockeries or will even grow in swathes of color as hedging plants. Since it needs so little looking after I grow mine on a corner border next to a rather unsightly old wire fence and it stands proudly around my rose bushes, making a wonderful display of purple, red and pink. I was a bit concerned that it was close to my azalea bush, which requires a different type of soil, but it settled happily alongside even when I fed my azalea with suitable feed.
No, I don't mean you to open up your garden (unless you want to), but lavender attracts all sorts of butterflies and bees that is good for the environment and has restored a lot of visiting bees this year to my garden. Since bees are having a poor year this is an added bonus. The advantage of wildlife visitors means that any vegetables or fruit nearby will benefit from pollination. Insects that are attracted to lavender often self-seed other plants such as hollyhocks and foxgloves. I actually have a bull-rush plant in my garden, though I haven't got a pond. My pinks and carnations have benefited as well and my sweet peas are a riot of color. Since I grew them from seed I was thrilled with this.
Pruning and Propagating.
I couldn't believe how easy this was. My friend wanted a cutting, which I took from a small stem near the edge of the plant. I don't think you need to cut it in any special way or place; I just did a diagonal cut similar to rose pruning. I recommend taking a cutting after the plant has flowered in July to August, though some lavender will flower well into September. Place the cutting in a pot of any compost and pop a plastic bag over the top. If you want a cutting for yourself you can actually place cuttings straight into the ground.
Pruning should be done in autumn and your plant will stay in shape all winter. Don't worry if you haven't got the time, you'll just need to do it in spring or have a very bushy plant.
Apart from the garden, you can cut and hang the flowers in a dark place to dry. The dried plants smell lovely and can be used as Pot Pourri, in sachets or made into 'dollies.' Lavender is heavenly when the flowers are still fresh, steep in water for a few hours and use in the bath. Other uses are in salads, though I've never tried this, or in olive oil to make an herbal remedy.
However you use it, or just enjoy having it in your garden, it will delight you for years to come. I haven't suggested any particular variety. Mine is the French variety which I chose as it is excellent as a dried flower and in oil. I've also made some sachets to scent my clothes drawers.
Prices range, but I bought my plant about two years ago for 2.50 and it's now a lovely bushy plant that hangs slightly over the edge of the border and held back by my Buddha statue, which seems a nice touch.
Thanks for reading.
Summary: Versatile and rewarding.