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Lavender doesn't have to be hard to understand or grow in your garden. Here's some great tips on how to grow this luxurious plant in your garden.

Lavender Harvest

My daughter and I were out in the lavender garden over the weekend getting sore hamstrings, (pulling weeds and trimming spent flower heads). This particular bed of sweet smelling sustenance is a trial planting of about 15 kinds of lavender. It is in its second spring, and it has reminded us of some characteristics of these plants that we tend to forget when we grow them in rows in mass.

This garden was laid out with three of about 15 kinds of lavender, planted in a triangle with each plant situated about two feet apart. It is easy to tell which ones grow fast and should be planted a lot further apart, and which ones grow slower and, for a nicer look sooner, should have been planted closer. Plus, we are reminded which ones look better in the landscape and which ones don't, which ones flower longer or sooner or later and which ones smell heavenly or like a hospital.

Here is a brief rundown:

The English Lavenders (Lavandula angustifolias), Munstead, idcote, Jean Davis and Hidcote Pink, flower in late spring and are finished by early summer. These look great when they flower, but are just a nice fragrant gray mound about ten inches tall now. Since they flower early, they spend most of the season as a foliage plant. 

Jean Davis, a light, light pink lavender has to have the all time best fragrance. If a noted botanist tells you there is little difference between this and a similar lavender, Hidcote Pink, realize it is the plant that is being referred to and not the heavenly citrus scent. While they look identical and both smell great. There is no comparison in fragrance between these two pinks.

*Jean Davis wins the fragrance award!
The best use of these lavenders is in the mixed border where their tattiness after bloom will be less noticeable. The Non English Lavenders bloom first. It is odd that all the lavenders with something other than angustifolia attached to their name are the first to bloom. The exception to this is the Woolly Lavender which blooms with the lavandins (see below).

But, Woolly has many find attributes claiming the Most Silver leaves and the darkest violet colored flower award!

And, while Spanish and Yellow Lavender finish their bloom about the time the English Lavenders kick in, Sweet and French start early and stay late. Even so, these are big
plants that can become untidy fast. They often look frightful right after pruning and take a few weeks to recover. These should definitely be intermingled with other early blooming lants.

Spanish lavender looks great with Orchid Rockrose and Golden Garden Sage.

Sweet lavender planted in groups of three or five makes a stunning large focal point. It has greener than normal leaves for lavender and so it looks good with light colored flowering perennials, like chocolate scented daisy. 

*Sweet lavender definitely wins best large bloom a lot category!

French lavender is a difficult plant to like because it blooms all the time but never quite looks good. And, unlike its name implies, it is not the oo la la lavender of fame, that honor belongs to the English lavenders. 

Then, there are the work horses of lavender, the lavandins. They do it all, bloom lots, grow just the right size and smell like a million bucks. Provence and Grosso are the best known of these, but there are many others, including Fred Boutin, Dutch Mill and Grappenhall. These are the ones to line the drive with or border the garden. They start blooming as the English lavenders are finishing, and continue into the fall.

*Grosso, also called fat spike, is the show stopper and wins the 'if you only have one make it this' award!

The botanical name for the lavandins is Lavandula x intermedia. The x means it is a cross with two plants and we know which two. In this case, it is L. angustifolia and L. latifolia. The intermedia means that these crossed plants have qualities of both parents, or it is intermediate between them.

Any way you look at them, lavenders are luscious long stemmed lovelies.

Til'Next Time, Herb
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* Check out great pictures & a special sale of these wonderful plants at: