Posts Tagged ‘lavender’

Wintering Lavender Plants Indoors

December 3, 2014

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Lavender plants love warm sunny spots in the garden so it is easy to think they will like the same conditions indoors.  The problem is the air in our homes is DRY.

Sahara Desert dry.  Growing in pots, lavender has a harder time surviving stressful conditions.  In your garden, their roots are below ground where it is usually much cooler than the air above.  The roots can go deep and usually find some moisture.

In the house, their roots are confined in a pot.  Not only are they susceptible to temperature fluctuations but if the pot really dries out they may wilt to the point of no return.  So how can you help your lavender survive inside?

  1.  Provide light, but not necessarily direct hot sun.  I have a wonderful south facing window many of my gardening friends covet but the plants are kept 5’ – 8’ back from the window to avoid direct sun, which can be very drying to them.
  2. Lavender does not like to be kept wet but neither does it like to be really dry.  Check the soil every day.  One of the simplest methods is to become familiar with the weight of the pot when it is wet and when it is dry.  Water the pots well then let them become nearly dry and water again.  I’m afraid there is no real formula for this unless you use a meter that checks the water in the soil and tells you when to water.  Quite a few seed companies sell these.
  3.  Fertilizing.  As the plants are not usually actively growing at this time of year I don’t use any fertilizer.

This year I’m experimenting with pruning the plants I brought inside.  I’m hoping that if there is less plant material it will be less stressful for the plant in the house and they may not dry out as quickly.  The pruning also encourages new growth so the plants will be bushier.

In March or April, when the light intensity changes, the plants will begin to grow actively and if they are going to stay in pots, I’ll transplant them in to new pots with new soil.  I’ll also begin to use some liquid fertilizer when they are watered.

One of the delights of having lavender inside is rubbing the leaves and having the fresh lavender scent.  They are not as easy to winter indoors as geraniums are, but a little care and you can keep your plants year round.

Next time – using lavender in you holiday celebrations.

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Plan a Lavender Year

March 29, 2014

Canada Blooms has drawn to a close for 2014. After any kind of winter, it is nice to be surrounded by flowers and trees and start thinking about the new gardening season. There were 2 lavender booths at the show. For several years now, NEOB (Niagara Essential Oils & Blends ) has had a booth showcasing their products and promoting their festival. This year they are having a Garlic and Herb Festival in September. They are unique in the Ontario landscape as their focus is growing plants they can distill for essential oils and they now have several farms growing plants for them. Their store is located just outside Niagara-on-the-Lake, about ½ hour from Niagara Falls, Ontario. One of my well-travelled girlfriends picked up some of their rose geranium soap and says it is amazing. Their web site is: http://www.neoblavender.com

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Rebecca and Melissa at the NEOB booth.

The Ontario Lavender Association, a group of lavender growers, in Ontario had a booth for the first time. They had products from members and lots of information to share about growing lavender. They have a new initiative for the next 2 years – The Purple Road – to promote the lavender farms in Ontario. They have produced a lovely guide and I can’t wait to hit the road this summer. Visit the site at: ontariolavenderassociation.org

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Kevin Beagle of Weirs Lane Lavender, Anita Buhner and her husband Steve, of the Ontario Lavender Association.

Apple Hill Lavender

A few years ago I went to Sequim in Washington State for their lavender festival and conference. I hope I can go again because to see lavender growing against the background of the snow topped Olympic Mountains is a sight I will not forget. There was one other Canadian at the conference and although I was booked to fly from Seattle to Vancouver to Toronto, she was looking for company to drive to Victoria, BC. From there she was flying to Toronto. I decided to join her and we had a lovely drive and I had the chance to look for lavender around in nurseries around Victoria.

Friday, my mother and I went to One Of A Kind and who did I meet? This same lady, Jan Schooley! She and her husband, who is into Apples, are now growing lavender on their farm in the Simcoe area, south of Brantford, Ontario. They had their first booth at the show, filled with soaps, oil, dried flowers and even lavender hydrosols, which are not easy to find. Lots to see this year in Ontario.

The Best Lavender Honey

March 19, 2010

MODA Botanica Display

L. stoechas WV Eaton PT

As mentioned in my last entry, I went to the Philidelphia Flower Show at the beginning of the month. I traveled with a friend who liked to try good local restaurants and we had 3 wonderful dinners. Our final dinner was at Amada. It is located in the older section of the city. I had never been to a restaurant specialising in Tapas so had no idea what to expect.

Any time I’m at a restaurant and lavender is on the menu, of course, I have to try it! The first dish we ordered had a hard cheese, thinly sliced, a Granny Smith apple, sliced and stacked in a pretty arrangement and some slices of a french loaf. In a small bowl was THE most exquisite lavender honey, with a mild earthy truffle flavor. When I asked our waitress about the honey she assured me it was from bees making honey from lavender fields. Not honey flavored with lavender flowers.

It was THE best lavender honey I have ever had.

I regret not taking a photo of the plate as the presentation was lovely, but the camera battery had died by this point. I can’t even remember what else we tried because the honey was so amazing. So, if you love lavender and are ever in Philadelphia you MUST find AMADA and if you don’t have anything else, order this starter.

Back at the show –
A booth by a company called Terrain had beautiful L. stoechas plants. The tag said the name was WVN Eaton PT. I would have loved a few of these but I can’t bring them across the border.

Finally, I wanted to share one of the displays that blew us away. The photo is above. The table is in a room of glass, so it is reflected on and on. It was done by a company called MODA botanica.

There were sweet peas, roses and vanda orchids in beautiful hues. How they found so many roses in those pale mauve colors I have no idea. Every detail of this ‘arrangement’ was co-ordinated. Trust me when I tell you the photo does not do it justice, but does show the effect of the reflections.

I’m off to Canada Blooms this afternoon to help at the Greater Toronto Rose and Garden Society Booth from 3-8pm! I’m going a little early to look around. The good thing is, I can bring plants home from there!!

Philadelphia Flower Show

March 13, 2010

L. multifida foliage

Lavandula multifida flower

Michelle Masters holding her cards

Last week I had the pleasure of going to the Philidelphia Flower Show. I love traveling in the United States, but had never been to Philidelphia before. I was fortunate to go with a good gardening buddy and what a travel companion she was! Not only did she find us a lovely B and B, but she insisted we track down a TV so we could watch the final Olympic hockey game. In the lobby of the Marriot Hotel next door to the Convention Centre we cheered the Canadian Hockey team to Olympic victory and ate at three wonderful restarants. It was great fun and some people came up to us and said it was fitting Canada won at their home Olympics! I could blog for weeks just about the trip!

We really enjoyed the flower show and attended 2 full days. I heard 5 different speakers, getting good ideas from each. We are both fans of David Austin Roses and they were one of the sponsors of the event. I was surprised that other large rose growers were not there and had hoped to see companies like Jackson and Perkins and Weeks Roses represented at this large show.

However the highlight really was the garden area. The theme of the show was “Passport to the World”. There were gardens representing South Africa, India, the Arctic, New Zealand, Singapore and the Netherlands. The gardens were very imaginative and we thought they were worth the trip.

There were few lavender plants at the show, but the Temple University (Ambler School of Environmental Design) display had beautiful L. multifida plants in their gardens. This is often called ‘Fernleaf Lavender’ because of the pretty foliage. Unfortunately it is not frost hardy, but a nice container plant and I seem to remember growing it in the house without any trouble.

We had the pleasure of meeting Michelle Masters. She is shown here holding a package of her note cards; a topiary hat, with lavender growing from the top. I must admit I bought a few packages of her note cards as I really liked her fresh, cheery designs. Her website is: www.michellemasters.com

My lavender seedlings survived my absence much better than I expected them to. I put them in generous sized plastic bags, hoping they would not find it too humid and die. I was afraid to look at them when I got home but found, although a couple of seedlings died, they were growing quite nicely. There are only a couple of ‘French Perfume’ seedlings, so I think I’ll start a few more. I have not been able to find any more of those seeds yet, so I only started some of the package. I’m going to start tomatoes and delphiniums as well in the next couple of weeks.

My final lavender encounter and the best was at the last restaraunt we went to, but more about that next week!!

Lavender Indoors

January 9, 2010

Snow is finally blanketing my garden. As much as I hate shoveling the stuff, it provides insulation for the perennials and protects the plants from temperature extremes. Today we have a windchill of -25C, while by Wednesday it might be around freezing. That is very hard on plants.

Each spring as I’m carrying plants outside I vow not to bring so many indoors the next fall, but I can’t seem to help it. I feel sorry for them! One such plant is a lovely standard orange hibiscus I’ve had for 6 years. I was determined it was not coming in this year. It takes up quite a bit of space in the south facing dining room. You guessed it – it was blooming beautifully this fall, so I removed it from the large 20″ pot it was in, cut the roots back with a knife until it fit into a 14″ pot and brought it in. It is doing very well and has been in constant bloom.

However, you are not reading here to find out about hibiscus. I also brought in for the second time a L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’. It is actually winter hardy, but I haven’t found just the right spot for it in the garden, so it has been in a container for several years now. When researching my book, I grew all kinds of lavenders in the house. The L. angustifolias really hated the dry air in the house, but this particular plant does quite well. Some of the L. x intermedias did alright – at least they stayed alive. In particular I have had L. x intermedia Silver Edge and L. x intermedia Goldburg winter quite successfully in the house. The south window has proven to be too hot for most plants, so they sit on a table, 4′-5′ back from the window. There are scented geraniums on the floor, but in sun doing very nicely.

In early November I visited Humber Nurseries. (They are located south of Hwy 7 on Hwy 50 near Brampton Ontario) They have wonderful greenhouses and are a great place to wander on a rotten winter day. One greenhouse is full of herbs. It has been a few years since I’ve had some tender lavenders in the house over the winter and wanted a few. I purchased three: L. dentata, L. stoechas and L. Goodwin Creek Grey. The L. stoechas is not looking very happy, but the other two plants look great. (I think I let it dry out too much and then over watered it)

L. Goodwin Creek Grey is one of my favorite lavenders. It is not frost tolerant, but if you live in a warmer climate can probably grow it in your garden. When I do talks I’m often asked for a variety that would suite someone who lives in an appartment and this one is perfect. It grows in a container and is quite happy indoors or out. It is easy to grow – treat it like a geranium. Good sun and let the soil dry out between waterings. In the photo here, you’ll see lovely grey foliage that is velvet to the touch and a light lavender scent. It does bloom, but they are not as spectacular as other varieties, so I consider blooms a bonus.

It was found growing at Goodwin Creek Nurseries – check out their lavenders on their website! (It is believed to be a cross from L. lanata, which in my experience is very hard to grow. Because it is a hybrid and not part of any other lavender family the name is just shown as L. Goodwin Creek Grey.)
Only 2 months until the garden shows begin!!

Lavender Farm at the Royal Winter Fair

November 17, 2009

Since I was a child, the fall season is never complete without a trip to Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. I love looking at all the different breeds of cattle, the sheep and even the beautiful roosters and hens. The horse show is a must as the show jumping is wonderful.

Last Monday I helped at the booth of the Arabian Horse Association of Eastern Canada, answering questions about Arabian horses and even about how the Quarter Horse got it’s name!!

When my shift was over I had a chance to wander around and within a few minutes met Chris Marks, who with his wife owns Joie de Lavande, a small lavender farm south of Montreal, in the provence of Quebec. He had a booth at the Fair to promote his farm and their products and even managed to give Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, a bottle of their lavender horse shampoo for her horse. We had a wonderful chat. He had not heard of my lavender book – (Growing Lavender, A Guide for Cooler Climates, the first book on growing lavender in Canada), and I had not heard of his farm!

It was interesting that we had both been to the Sequim Lavender Festival and to see lavender growing in Provence France. What a small lavender world.

I’ve started making more lavender pillows for the holidays – gifts for friends and to sell. I have some lovely dried rose petals and will do some rose pillows as well as rose-lavender pillows.

If you would like information about my book, please visit my website http://www.growing-lavender.com
At the moment the book is not available from Amazon.

Lavender Ice Tea

August 15, 2008

Here’s my recipe for a lavender ice tea.  This year I tried a decaf green tea.

Boil enough water for 6 cups of tea.

Use 2 tea bags, or more if desired.

Pour the boiling water over the tea bags in a tea pot.  Add to the pot several fresh heads of lavender flowers.  I also had fresh orange mint in the garden, so put one stem with about 6 leaves into the pot.  It gives an ‘Earl Grey’ sort of flavor.  I do not use sugar, but you could add sugar, sweetener or honey at this point.

Let steep for 10 minutes.

Strain and cool.

Pour over ice and serve.

Lavender Festival at the Distillery District in Toronto.

The Vintage Gardener is hosting a lavender festival this week.  They have lots of dried lavender, beautiful lavender wreaths, soaps, oils, body lotions and lavender shortbread.  They also have 3 varieties for sale – L. a. “Munstead”, L.a. “Elegant Ice” and L. stoechas ‘Kew Red’.  There is the opportunity to make a lavender wreath, either a small one ($15), or medium one ($55).  I’ll be there signing books from 1:30 – 4:30 each day through Sunday.

I’ve met some really nice people, from Toronto, New York City and even Italy!

If you are looking for more info on lavender, please visit my site:

www.growing-lavender.com