Archive for November, 2010

L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’

November 15, 2010

L. angustifolia 'Hidcote'

L. angustifolia field in France

It is amazing that here we are nearing mid-November and there is still lavender in bloom, not only in my own garden, but throughout the neighbourhood as well. I think it is either L. angustifolia or L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’. For many plants this is their thrid blooming this year. We had a mild winter coming into 2010 and an early spring. We are having a wonderful fall. The temperatures have been to freezing at night, but we’ve had lots of sunny warm days. This has kept the lavender growing and blooming.

Lavandula angustifolia is one of the 30+ species of lavender. It grows 40 – 60cm tall, is very popular as a garden plant and fairly winter hardy. It can reproduce by cuttings or seeds and because it crosses with other lavenders quite easily, it is hard to produce it true from seed. This means that there can be quite a bit of variation in the color of the flowers and how the flowers are arranged on the stem. If I understood correctly when I was in Provence a few years ago, this is the lavender they refer to as ‘True lavender’ and it produces the highest quality of oils for perfumes and essential oils.

L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’.
This cultivar is part of the L. angustifolia species. Also propagated from seed, there can be variations in the color, but it usually has lovely dark purple flowers, produced closely together on the stem. The plant tends to be compact in growth, making it a popular garden plant. It is also quite winter hardy and readily available. The dark color makes it popular for drying and crafts. If having a dark colored lavender is important to you, make sure you see the plant in bloom before you buy it.

Just to confuse things, L. angustifolias, in general, are often called ‘English Lavenders’.

Fall is a good time to review your garden.
Look at your plants and note what did well. What didn’t do as well. Can you help it do better next year? One of the problems my lavenders had was being crowded by other plants. This fall as I’ve been cleaning up the garden, I’ve taken out anything near them and I’ll try to give them more space next year. For the first time my L. angustifolia ‘Pink Perfume’ really bloomed this year. Last year it only produced a few flowers and it didn’t seem much different from L.a. ‘Rosea’, but this year it produced lovely large flower spikes with pretty mid-pink flowers. Lavender plants can take 3 – 4 years to mature. When you purchase a new plant, note the size it will mature to and give it plenty of room.

Don’t prune lavender now.
If you live in a climate that is moving into winter and you get freezing temperatures and snow, this is not the time of year to prune lavender. Pruning tends to encourage growth and we want the plants to go dormant for the winter. New growth is more prone to freezing than mature growth. So leave the plants until next spring.

Next time – visiting another nursery.