Summertime: and the Lavender’s Blooming

Lavender, in profusion brings the bees to the yard.

Lavender, in profusion, brings the bees to the yard.

Lavender, a mainstay perennial of mid summer, is at its best in full sun, but fear not, it will grow in partial shade. (Not deep shade!) I grew a big patch of lavender in a partly shady rock garden for many years. When a cpuple of bad winters killed it off, but I replaced it with a new plant as I wouldn’t want a garden without lavender.

The lavender we grow in our perennial gardens is mostly Lavandula angustifolia, English lavender. Two good varieties are Munstead (short, 18″ tall) and Hidcote (dark, purple flowers, strong scent, tall 24″.)

 

Note: English lavender isn’t from England. It picked up its common name because it’s the kind of lavender that grows best in that country’s climate. The plant is actually from the Mediterranean.

It’s an edible herb, and flowers can be added many recipes. Lavender’s delicate aroma can flavour ice cream, shortbread cookies, lemonade, cocktails and many savoury dishes. How about lavender roast potatoes?

You can also cut a few sprigs of lavender to use in a bouquet.It’s elegant on its own or can be mixed with other flowers and herbs.

There are many different kinds of lavender, (list kinds) but all have blueish purple flowers in clusters on upright stalks. In full day sun, it makes a tight mound of flowers, and in partial shade will have a slightly more open effect, with fewer blooms. Still pretty though.

It’s also one of the mainstays of a scented garden. One of the delights of summer when the lavender blooms is crushing a few flower stalks in your fingers as you walk by. Walk-by aromatherapy.

Lavender can be used fresh or dried.  You can’t grow lavender in deep shade but a little bit of shade for part of the day is fine.

It’s also very drought tolerant. Like many drought-tolerant flowers and plants its stems and leaves are slightly fuzzy. These tiny hairs shade the plant, protecting it from drying out.

Lavender is not fussy, having no pests or maintenance to speak of. It even thrives in soil that is on the lean side: sandy, well-drained soil is perfect. It won’t tolerate soggy soil.

Lavender,like many perennials, looks its absolute best planted in mass. Five or seven plants together will always look better than just one.

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