Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Herbs - Part 3 - Lavender


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Lavender is a... guess what?  A Mediterranean herb!  So, well-drained, but dry sparse soil and lots of sun.

There are several basic types of lavender, with a myriad of varieties within each type.  There are French lavenders, Spanish lavenders, and English lavenders, and more.  The names are misleading, as English lavender is a native of France, French lavender a native of Spain, and Spanish lavender from Morocco!  

French lavender ((Lavandula dentata) has greyer leaves, with serrated edges.  It's a beautiful plant, which I grew in a large ceramic pot on my deck. Until last winter, when we had a heavy freak snow.  French lavender is less cold tolerant than other lavenders.  But, it's oh, so pretty with those lacy leaves, which are soft and furry! 

baby French lavender

One thing I knew I wanted to do when I removed the dreaded junipers from my front yard, was a row of lavender.  I choose Hidcote (Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote').  It's an English lavender, forming 2'-3' rounded shrubs.  I planted five and they have filled in to make a solid mass of blooms in spring. I bought these at Shooting Star Nursery in Central Point, OR (http://roguevalleynursery.com).  Hidcote has one of the strongest aromas of the lavenders. 

super ugly juniper bushes on the way out

Hidcote lavender (and new windows!) c.spring 2014
Hidcote lavender 2017

Also in the front yard is one Munstead (Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead') lavender, sharing the area with Golden oregano, Tuscan Blue rosemary, and until recently, two rockroses.  Munstead is also English lavender.  Munstead is a bit shorter than Hidcote, growing to about 18" (that doesn't include the flower spikes!).

Both these lavenders draw hundreds of pollinators in the spring (see the post from June 25, 2017, Pretties and Pollinators).

In my herb garden proper, in the ground or in containers, are more lavenders.

Goodwin Creek Grey...

Lavandula 'Goodwin Creek Grey'

Goodwin Creek Grey is a hybrid, named for the nursery Goodwin Creek Gardens in Oregon, where it was found as a seedling.  It is thought to be a hybrid of Lavandula dentata (French lavender) and a furry type with white leaves, Lavandula lanata, a cold tender variety.  I can only hope it survives my winter.  Perhaps I can move its pot to a sheltered area come frost. 

Platinum Blonde...

Lavandula angustifolia ‘Momparler’

Platinum Blonde is actually a registered trade mark!  This lavender was breed by a man in Spain,  Juan Ismael Momparler Albors.  It has only been available for a few years.  It will grow in a mound 15" to 24".   

Ellagance Snow...

Lavandula angustifolia 'Ellagance Snow' - 2017
Ellegance Snow is also planted in the butterfly garden (where the soil is too rich, and the water to frequent, but it is blooming none the less!), and the front yard rock garden.  I was absolutely thrilled to find Ellegance Snow at the Grange Co-op because I'd been looking for a white lavender!  That's why I couldn't resist three!  Oh, a plus is its size, just 11" - 15"!

You'll notice most of my lavenders are of the English variety, or angustifolia.  These are the most common in North America since they can handle more rain in the winter than some other kinds.  They still don't like their roots wet though.  English lavender is also the most popular for culinary uses.  I have not used it yet, but there is a recipe for lavender shortbread that sounds interesting in my favorite herb book, Easy Growing, by Gayla Trail.

Years ago, when my youngest children were still young, and in homeschool, we took classes at The Gardens at Heather Farm (which when I was still young was originally named Heather Farms). One was all about the parts of a flower.  As a gift for scheduling the class the teacher gave me a a lavender wand.  More than 10 years later it still smells wonderful!  There are instructions online, but I am not sure I'll ever be able to figure them out.  As you can see from the second photo, lavender stems are folded in on themselves, and ribbon is woven through to hold them together, with all the aromatic flowers inside. 

So, what's next for my lavender collection?  Why, yellow lavender of course!  And pink.  And some Spanish lavender.

What's next up for herbs?  Chives and savory. 

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