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Member Name: oryx
Date: 18/08/04, updated on 18/08/04 (1530 review reads)
Advantages: relaxing, inexpensive, versatile
Disadvantages: does not suit everybody, cannot be used during first trimester in pregnant women, doesn't grow well indoors
Lavender is a relatively easy plant to grow and you do not need gardening expertise to produce a thriving bush. Its main requirements are alkaline, well-drained soil (it does not like to get ?wet feet?) and plenty of sunshine. One particular variety that I have grown successfully and that is abundant in garden centres at the moment is Butterfly or Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), although the most common type is Lavandula officinalis, also known as Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula vera. Lavender can be grown from seed or you can simply purchase a small plant ? during the growing season it will soon develop into a thriving bush. It is worth bearing in mind however that it is not particularly well suited to growing indoors and so should be planted outside. Lavender cross-pollinates very easily, and you may find that if you have several different plants new varieties will soon appear.
Lavender essential oil is extracted by steam distillation from the fresh flowering tops and it is one of the few oils that is included in the British Pharmacopoeia.
85;sed with carrier oil, it is often used as a massage aid, and works well alone or complemented with marjoram and/or rosemary. It is an excellent resource as it is one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin (although this is not advisable unless you have some experience of aromatherapy) and very few people develop allergic reactions to the substance. In fact, it is renowned for working well on burns, insect bites and blemishes, and was used as a back-up during the First and Second World Wars when medical supplies became scare. IMPORTANT: in terms of safety, lavender should be avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy, some say this is due to an emmenagogue action. It should also not to be used with preparations containing iron and/or iodine.
A few drops of lavender essential oil can be dropped in bathwater or put some pulverised flower spikes in a square of muslin sewn at the edges and use as a body scrubber for a wonderful-smelling exfoliator. If you have trouble sleeping, or need something to calm your nerves before you sleep, place lavender near or in your pillow or put a few drops of essential oil on the cover. To keep moths away and to make your clothes smell divine, put sachets in your wardrobe and drawers. Another way to perfume your clothes is to put a few drops of essential oil in the rinse cycle of your washing machine. Lavender can also be around pet beds to deter fleas; simply break up the flower spikes and sprinkle the fragments in the specific area ? when you come to vacuum this up later it has the added benefit of re-releasing the fragrance.
Believe it or not, lavender can be used in cooking and people use it to make everything from lavender honey and tea to lavender lemonade! Such culinary delights might not be to everyone?s tastes, but it is certainly
worth trying everything once. Below is a simple recipe for lavender cookies, which are quick and easy to make:
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lavender leaves
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put eggs, margarine, sugar and lavender into a blender and run on low until well mixed. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Add other ingredients and stir until well blended. Drop dough a teaspoon at a time on to ungreased cookie sheets. Bake until lightly browned. Blend enough rosewater into the confectioner?s sugar to make a smooth frosting. Ice the cookies and let them set until frosting is firm.
So to sum up, it is not hard to see why lavender is so popular and why it has been so useful to people throughout the ages. No longer the reserve of the stereotypical elderly lady with lavender scented perfume, it is something that can benefit all walks of people and quite rightly boasts a reputation as the perfect tonic to the stresses of modern life.
Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php