Lavender is a plant rich in history and myth. With its roots in the ancient herbalists, lavender's properties as a disinfectant and antiseptic were founded. Its healing qualities grew through the centuries, even gaining the reputation of warding off the plague. Lavender's popularity with the English royalty gave it a berth in the ranks of a cosmetic herb and it was with Queen Victoria that lavender was recognized as a tonic for nerves.
With its history of healing properties, glorious colours, and enchanting perfume, lavender has remained the "Swiss Army Knife" of herbs. Lavender has stepped out of its attachment to "old fashion" and has found modern status with scientific research verifying its use in aromatherapy.
Lavender's aroma imprint is camphoric sweet and rich with an herbaceous, floral heart and soft balsamic-wood undertone. Its scent at evaporation is generally a low, middle note. It's effect is calming, refreshing, uplifting, soothing, and purifying. Ideal for physical and emotional support, lavender as a whole is an "adaptagenic" essence with a relationship to all body systems. It is nicknamed "the ultimate first aid in a bottle". Lavender produces an anti-allergic essential oil with an inherent anti-biotic action. It is also an astringent as well as moisturizing to the skin. It alleviates many types of aches, pains, and swelling.
Growing & Caring for Lavender
Having Lavender in our gardens brings hummingbirds, pollinating honey bees and rewards us with a delicious fragrance throughout the summer. Care for your lavenders and they will serve you for more than ten years.
There are two reasons lavender is so wildly popular throughout British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest and that is the plants are deer resistant and drought tolerant. The number one killer of lavender plants is too much moisture so always plant lavender in a sunny well drained spot away from direct sprinklers or irrigation systems. Lavender likes a neutral soil so plant away from cedars and fir trees whose needles are very acidic, in fact a little lime is appreciated by the plants when put in the ground as is some bone meal in the bottom of the hole. Water in well when planting but after that only water when the stems start to droop a little.
Similarly important is pruning, a well pruned plant will serve you for more than ten years, no pruning and the plant will open like a book under wet heavy snow and become woody within three years, needing to be replaced. Pruning is best done in late September. Remove all the flower stems then trim the bush aggressively into a ball the same height as it is wide. Always leave at least two green shoots on each stem but you can reduce the overall size of the bush by some 25%. If you miss the September pruning it can be done in April but always prune at least once a year. Lavender does not require much fertilizer if any but we like to give it a treatment of 20/20/20 in April or some slow release fertilizer particularly for those lavenders in pots.
We give free demonstrations on pruning at our farm (see LOCATIONS) in September.
It is not a well known fact that Lavender has 475 varieties at the last count spread over 32 species and comes in many colors including pink, white and yellow/lime green even raspberry. Come and see our display beds of 30 selected varieties at our farm and browse our nursery to make your selection. Alan will be happy to answer any lavender related question you may have during your visit. Happy Lavender Growing