For the last few days I’ve been sitting in the office accompanied by the drone of bees and the occasional waft of Lavender from the bushes outside the window. It seems to have been a good year for Lavender, all around the garden it’s springing into flower and bushes that have been background for so many months suddenly spring forward in all their glory.
I love Lavender. For me it’s the epitome of long summer’s in the garden. And, assuming I can bring myself to cut it back while it’s still in flower, (and assuming I am organised enough to hang it and dry it) then the memory will linger on into the winter in stored in containers that once opened, fill the room with memories of warmth and sunshine.
It’s the perfect plant for a sensory garden; scented foliage to run your hands through all year and summer flowers that vary from the palest lilac to brilliant purple blue. And there are a wide range of different forms, although, for me, the Hidcote Lavender will always be “real” Lavender. More about types of Lavender here
It’s also an excellent versatile and practical plant for working with our client gardeners at Thrive.
• Its distinctive shape and scent makes it easy to identify;
• The flowers growing on their long straight stems high above the foliage are easy for clients to identify and pick;
• Its scent stimulates memories of gardens and garden visits (one client I worked with stripping lavender said that although she had lost her sense of smell and taste as a result of the medication she was one, she had such a strong memory of it that she felt she could smell it);
• The scent and the oils have a calming effect (when I was working on an outreach programme, I had a large cardboard box of Lavender in the office which my colleagues Labelled as the first aid kit for stress relief – just stick your head in the box!)
• Stripping lavender off the stems such a very simple but rewarding activity that improves dexterity and fine motor skills;
• It can be used in a variety of craft activities from making lavender bags and bath bombs, adding it to paper making; to using it in cookery or to make teas or lavender lemonade (an excellent drink for hot summers day)
• It’s relatively hardy and will survive a fair level of abuse from inexperienced and enthusiastic pruning (and in fact thrives from being cut back hard, as long as you don’t cut back into the dead wood). For more details on how to cut back lavender see here
• It’s easy to propagate from heel cuttings (although the lavender here seems determined to seed itself in the gravel or any small crack in the paving – giving us a wonderful range of small plants for potting on in the spring).
Right, after all that, I'm off into the garden to pick myself a bunch of summer therapy!