Monday, June 4, 2012

Loving Lavender!


I love Lavender! It's been a favorite for centuries, and with good reason:

It's beautiful in the garden - no self-respecting cottage or herb garden would be without it.
It attracts bees and butterflies! (Ever tried lavender honey? Yessum!)
It smells heavenly - all clean and crisp and sweet and sunshine.
It keeps that scent when it's dried. For years.
Because of that scent, it keeps moths out of the closets.
Its oil soothes sunburn, burns, and scratches. And headaches.
It makes a fabulous syrup for making lemonade. Or iced tea.
It makes a load of laundry smell like sunshine.
It makes a soothing and refreshing bath.
It is a "balancer" in aromatherapy terms: if you're dragging, it's thought to pick you up. And if you're tense,  
          it's thought to calm you back down. Balance. :)
It's delicious in tea, in Herbes de Provence, in a cake with blueberries... let me count the ways...

In other words, I could go on and on and on.

Lavender's botanical name is "Lavandula", which comes from the Latin lavare, "to wash". I've always thought of it as an English plant, but it actually originated in the Mediterranean region. (Many thanks to Roman soldiers for spreading it and other herbs around!Ancient Greeks and Romans added it to bath water, medieval folk carried it to ward off the plague, and it was historically recommended to treat “A light migram or a swimming ov the braine”.
 Yup, I'd rather not have my braine swimming, either! *innnnhale*

In the garden, lavender loves sunlight, warmth, and a well-drained soil that's on the "sweet" (alkaline) side. Here in my part of Kentucky, our soil has more than its fair share of clay - so the "well-drained" part is difficult at best to achieve. Our air is also extremely humid in the summers, which can be a little bit of a problem for some lavenders. 'Grosso' (pictured below) is an exception to this, and can grow to over four feet in diameter around here! I planted my lavender next to our concrete driveway - lime from the concrete tends to leach into the soil, making it a little more alkaline. Happy Lavender Campers.

Left: Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'. Right Lavandula x 'Grosso' .
So, as I write this, it's June - full-on Springtime in the lovely state of Kentucky. The lavender has been blooming for several weeks now, keeping the bees happy. I cut quite a bit of lavender every year, both for my own use and to sell in little bunches at craft shows. The bees and I have an Understanding... when I'm harvesting bunches of stems, I move slowly and talk softly to them. I reassure them that I'm only taking some of it, and leaving plenty for them to enjoy. So, we work quietly and happily alongside each other. At this point in the season, whatever is left is all theirs - since I'm harvesting it mainly for ornamental use, I prefer to take stems that haven't bloomed-out yet. But I still go talk to them, of an early morning. :)
Bumblebee this morning, busy  in the 'Hidcote'

Freshly cut stems of  'Hidcote', which has the darkest-purple buds and blooms of any Lavender I know.



In my own home, I love to dry it and put it in a certain little vase.  My Mom had the vase from my Granma (my Dad's mom), and passed it on to me long ago. It usually lives on the bathroom window sill, but sometimes I like to change it up a bit. :)



Whoops - it's time to go set up for the radio show! I'll be back with another post, with some recipes. 
Promise. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment