🌱 Natalie Jackson - Plant Detective & Gardening Teacher 🌱

All About Lavender

- Lavendula Angustifolia -

Lavender is an herb that has been popular throughout history.  It created industrial booms, popular trends and is seeing a resurgence in fine teas and fine dining.

  • Ancient Egyptians used lavender in the mummification process, left it as an offering in burial urns, and used for body perfume.
  • Lavender's popularity in Egypt spread through trade to the Greeks, and eventually to the rest of Europe.  It's popularity boomed in France, Spain, Italy and England.
  •  The ancient Greeks and Romans used lavender in their baths.
  • During the Renaissance, Lavender's medicinal and insect repellent properties were explored and used to combat the effects of the plague.
  • In the 17th Century, France invested in mass producing lavender for perfumes and beauty products.  
  • The pilgrims brought lavender with them from England in 1620.
  • Lavender's anti-bacterial properties made it apt for use in dressing wounds in World War I. 

  

There are approximately 30 varieties of Lavender, each with its own color variations, smell variations and growing habits.  I currently grow three kinds of lavender, one in my community garden plot at the Sepulveda Basin Community Garden Center (pictured above with my feet), and two in containers on my Balcony Garden (pictured below). 

     

Lavender is a perennial plant, which means it continues to grow year after year and does not need to be replanted (as long as it is healthy).  It is truly a sad day when a lavender plant dies - I had one in my garden, and it was planted in an area that was slow to drain water.  Lavender plants do not like to have their roots in wet soil for a long time. When they are in a wet soil environment, they tend to become vulnerable to disease and mold.   A lesson learned the hard way!

A young and little lavender plant in our original garden plot, before the lack of drainage made it susceptible to disease.

 

When we got our second plot at the SBCGC, we became care takers of this lovely little lavender bush - it is the one pictured above with my feet and to the right.  It is growing on the edge of our plot, popping through the fence and into the walkway to catch some sunshine.   This plant is most likely 5-7 years old, and has a few flowers here and there throughout the year.    

Our plot neighbor has a big thriving lavender plant that grows into our plot through the fence, and we pick flowers and leaves for tea and bouquets from the branches that grow into our plot.  Her lavender is often featured in videos on my social media accounts because the bees LOVE it. 

 

 

 

This vibrant lavender bush is growing through our neighbor's fence into our plot, and it is a favorite stop for local bees. 

 

Lavender is considered as a drought tolerant, sunshine loving plant, and can be grown from seed or from a softwood cutting.  It is much easier and faster to grow lavender from a softwood cutting.  As a perennial, lavender takes a LONG time to grow from seed.  You may have a 2-3 inch lavender plant for the first year if you grow it from seed.  Lavender gets growing after year 2, but really sees the most growth in years 3-5 and beyond. 

Harvest lavender flowers as they open, and let them dry before using them.  Make sure the variety you are growing is appropriate for the way you wish to use the plant.  Some varieties are better for perfume, some are best for cooking and some are perfect for decorative crafts.  

Wreaths made with Lavender and Chamomile at the Cherry Valley Lavender Festival. 

Lavender, like many plants these days, has found itself in our homes through a resurgence in popularity of natural ingredients and plant-based living.  

Lavender's name comes from the Latin word for wash, "lavare." It is known as a "clean" smell, and has been incorporated in all kinds of products for cleaning and beauty.  At home, you can harvest and use lavender flowers in teas, sachets, baked goods and baths.  Lavender leaves are a great alternative for Rosemary (another delicious herb) in cooking and baking recipes where Rosemary is called for.  

A garden neighbor's gorgeous little lavender plant. 

Have you had a lavender roasted chicken or a lavender sugar cookie?    I have had the pleasure of trying both, and I LOVE them!    Lavender pairs well with lemon, rose, honey, berries and so much more.  Experiment combining the aromatic lavender herb with strong, sweet flavors. 

Lavender oil has many known uses as it has insect repellent properties, medicinal effects and the ability to lift spirits.   Lavender is said to treat indigestion, calm the nerves, ease headaches and end insomnia.

Personally, I love a good handmade rice & lavender headache pillow.  I bought one that is moon shaped from a vendor at the market I manage, the Melrose Trading Post.  It has helped me through headaches and soothing strained eyes from working on the computer.  

Me enjoying the Lavender fields of the Cherry Valley Lavender Festival!

Lavender is a lovely plant with aromatic flowers and leaves.  Growing lavender from seed takes a lot of love and patience.  Buying an older, flowering plant is a way to instantly bring healing vibes to your space.  

I hope you have enjoyed this post about a spectacular plant family, Lavender (Labiatae).  Get some Lavender in your life!

Thank you for reading,
NAT JAX

 


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