How to convey the seasons through plants? One way is with scent, and if you love the waft of fragrant flowers as you sit outside on a warm evening, then having lavender in the garden is a must.
Even though it appears to be a quintessential English country garden plant, lavender originates from the Mediterranean, so is at its happiest in warm, dry, sunny conditions where its grey-green foliage and whorls of tiny purple flowers will attract pollinators all summer long.
Benefits of lavender
Lavender is amazingly versatile, used in landscaping, both formal and informal, and can be found in cooking, medicines and cosmetics. It’s been used in herbal medicine for thousands of years, and is believed to help with anxiety, depression and fatigue, plus it’s a treatment for insomnia. Just a few reasons why having it on your patio or in your borders is good for humans as well as insects.
This species of lavender is the most suited to grow in the UK’s cooler climate as it is quite hardy and for that reason has been a staple in herb gardens for many years. Due to its low camphor content it is popular in a wide range of culinary uses. Not only available in purple, but other colours are also mauve, pink and white.
Sometimes called fringed lavender, this is showier than its ‘English’ cousin. Tufty purple bracts top its compact flower heads, and although it is not as fragrant, its leaves, when crushed, have a rosemary-like scent. Tender, it needs to overwinter in a greenhouse or conservatory.
Lavender can be planted anywhere in the garden that is in full sun and has free-draining soil. Lavender is also an ideal plant for containers as they can be moved about the garden to catch the sun. Lavender is drought tolerant but won’t survive wet or damp conditions. Flowering in late spring, early summer, prune back annually, keeping the flowers for drying.
You may not know that…
Lavender is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae.
It is native to what is termed as the ‘old word’ Africa, Europe and Asia.
The name Lavender come from the Latin ‘lavare’ to wash.
Lavender was used in the mummification process in ancient Egypt.
Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.