Archive for August, 2011

Plant your lavender now

August 6, 2011

L. angustifolia 'Royal Velvet' flower

L. angustifolia 'Royal Velvet'

If you haven’t planted any lavender plants you have bought this year, please do it now. For some reason, lavender does not like to be planted late in the season and may not survive the winter if you don’t get it in the ground soon.

Prune your lavender after blooming.

What a super year for my garden lavender. Our summer has been hot and dry and the lavender has finished it’s first bloom. Most of the lavenders in my garden are L. angustifolia’s. These are relatives of the original wild lavender found in the Provence region of France. Today, many of the lavender farms grow L. x intermedia’s. These are hybrids of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia. The hybrids are large, producing a much larger crop of flowers than L. angustifolia, but for fine perfumes, soaps and aromatherapy, L. angustifolia is usually perferred for it’s rich, clean scent.

There are quite a few L. x intermedia’s available for your garden, but they mature to a large size, requiring plenty of space – often 3 – 4 square feet for a mature plant. They also take 3 -5 years to fully mature. L. angustifolias usually mature at 3 years. The L. x intermedia’s also bloom a few weeks later than the L. angustifolia’s. The photo appearing at the top of my blog was taken near Sault in France. These flowers are of a L. x intermedia, but sorry, I don’t know the name of it. The large flower spikes in the blue – grey color are typical of this group. Some of the varieties you will find are called ‘Grosso’, ‘Provence’ and ‘Silver Edge’. L. x intermedia’s also come in white, but not pink.

If you haven’t already done so, remove all the flowers that have finished blooming from your lavender. The L. angustifolia’s should rebloom. This is a good time to cut the plants back as well. Do not cut them back into the brown woody growth, just to where you seen healthy green growth, with leaves still on the stem.

How to dry your lavender for cooking or crafts.

Watch your lavender as the buds develop their color. When the first few flowers on the stalk are open, this is the time to harvest your ‘crop’. I always cut the stalk as long as possible, tying small bunches together, then hanging them upside down to dry in a place that is out of direct sun. Even if you are planning to strip the buds and flowers off the stalk, I always harvest this way. Keeping the flowers on the stalk gives you some versitility. You may need a little gift of a bunch of dry lavender for someone, or decide to make a wreath. If you only dry the flower heads, you have lost the versitility.

Using Fresh lavender flowers

This is a great time of year to sprinkle some fresh flowers on fruit, on cupcakes, in a salad, or in some tea. Use your imagination and enjoy your lavender.