Lavender - rewarding and easy to grow!
Wednesday, 21 November 2018
By Deb Delahunty, Horticulture teacher, Wodonga TAFE
Lavender is one of my favourites. It’s such an easy plant to grow and what a fragrance! Lavender flowers reward you with their appearance and keep rewarding you for ages. You can use this plant in just so many ways – keep it in a pot, use it for edging or hedging and a dozen other uses. Of course it’s very popular for making into Lavender sachets, moth repellents, potpourri and a host of other crafts.
It’s thought that the word Lavender was taken from the Old French – lavandre – which means to wash and that the botanical name was derived from this. The common names are a bit confusing, English Lavender, French Lavender, Spanish Lavender are used and reasonably interchangeable – a great reason to only use botanical names.
There are many different types of Lavender – finding the one that suits you best is the challenge. At home I have the Wooly Lavender (Lavandula lanata) and Canary Island Lavender (Lavandula canariensis). The Wooly Lavender is also known as the Spanish Mountain Lavender. This is a compact shrub with silvery foliage with a fuzzy appearance. The dark purple flowers are produced in summer on very long stems. The Canary Island Lavender is as you would expect – native to the Canary Islands. This is a reasonably tender plant which has fern like leaves and deep violet flowers.
Lavenders belong to the mint family, Lamiaceae which means they are related to plants such as Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Sage and a host of other aromatic plants.
Lavender is found growing naturally from the Canary Islands, to Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, Asia, China and to India. A number of the Lavender species are cultivated extensively for us in the production of essential oils and other species are used solely for landscape and garden use.
It was interesting to read that the colour lavender means mature femininity, representing refinement, grace and elegance.
Lavender loves hot weather but it dislikes humidity – this makes Lavandula a perfect genus for our region. Lavender rarely suffers from any pests or disease issues and the two main things you need to ensure success with lavender are good drainage and an open, sunny position.
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Photo – A swathe of Lavender in flower in the gardens at Wodonga TAFE.