Choosing, planting and using Lavender

SIZE: There is a Lavender for any size spot. If you want a compact, low growing variety, for example for a rockery, I would recommend L. angustifolia `Little Lady`, L. angustifolia `Nana Compacta`, L. angustifolia `Cedar Blue` and L. angustifolia `Little Lottie`. Alternatively, some of the French (stoechas) Lavenders are quite compact such as L.stoechas ssp. stoechas, L. stoechas x viridis `Fathead` and L.stoechas forma leucantha. For a larger space in the garden or for more height, the intermedia varieties have long stems and a wide spread eg. L. x intermedia, L. x intermedia `Dutch Group`, L. x intermedia ` Lullingstone Castle` or L. x intermedia `Grappenhall`. COLOUR: There is a wide variety of flower colour among Lavenders. Some of the darkest purples include L. angustifolia `Hidcote`, L.angustifolia `Royal Purple`, L.angustifolia `Twickel Purple`, L. x intermedia `Bogong`, L. x intermedia `Grosso`, L.stoechas ssp stoechas, L. stoechas x viridis `Fathead`,L.stoechas `Belle Vue`, L.stoechas `Blue Form` and L. stoechas `Blue Star` Some of the most attractive mid `Lavender blue` can be found on L. angustifolia `Munstead`, L.angustifolia `Cedar Blue`, L.angustifolia `Bowles Blue`, L. x intermedia, L. x intermedia `Fragrant Memories`, L. x intermedia `Grappenhall` and L. x intermedia `Lullingstone Castle` Most of the pink Lavenders are from the angustifolia group such as `Rosea`, `Hidcote Pink` and `Miss Katherine`. Some of the stoechas Lavenders have pink bracts such as L. stoechas ssp. pedunculata, L. stoechas `Tickled Pink` and L. stoechas `Kew Red`. L. angustifolia `Edelweiss` and L. x intermedia `Alba` both have long white flowers. If you want a more compact white Lavender try L. angustifolia `Nana Alba` and L. stoechas forma leucantha. ATTRACTING WILDLIFE; Bees and butterflies like all Lavenders, but if the ones that get totally covered in them are the intermedias. Ideal for increasing the pollination of your fruit, by attracting bees and also good for repelling greenfly.

 

All Lavenders like a sunny spot with good drainage. Minimum fertility is required. If you have a heavy, clay soil it is essential to add some grit or sand to the planting hole. Most Lavenders do well in containers using a coarse compost or a soil based compost.

Prune English Lavender as soon as it has finished flowering to prevent the plants becoming woody. French Lavender should be dead-headed continually to encourage continuous flowering. It can be shaped in the spring if it is  becoming too large.

To dry Lavender, pick the flowers and hang them upside down by the stems to dry. The dried flowers can then be used for lavender bags or pot pourri.

Lavender, fresh or dried, can be used in cooking for example in shortbread, fairy cakes and ice cream