This cottage-garden favourite provides colour and fragrance all summer long and has some interesting uses in the kitchen.
Lavender is a well-known in the garden but bring it into the kitchen and it has a few surprises up its sleeve. It's not widely known in this country but it makes a great culinary herb - try using its leaves in place of (or in combination with) rosemary for a new flavour experience. The flowers are delicious too, and can be used in baking. Alternatively, you can dry the flowers and use them to fragrance parts of the home, particularly wardrobes and drawers. Or just leave them for the bees and butterflies, who love them every bit as much as people do. This easy-to-grow and low-maintenance plant is drought tolerant, and perfect for growing in a sunny spot in the border, as a low hedge or singly in patio containers.
Whether you choose to grow this versatile variety in pots, borders or as a low hedge, you can enjoy a repeat show of long-lasting colour during summer every year.
Please note that the pot in the photograph is for illustrative purposes only and is not supplied with the plant.
Plant Type: Herb
Hardiness: H5 Hardy. Minimum temperature -15 to -10.
Plant Height & Spread (at maturity): H 80cm x W 1m (Mature age: 5 Years)
Foliage Colour: Silver
Flower Colour: Purple
Fragrant Flower: Yes
Aromatic Foliage: Yes
RHS Award of Garden Merit: No
RHS Perfect for Pollinators: Yes
Foliage Type: Evergreen
Soil Type: Acid, Alkaline, Sandy, Chalky, Loam
Soil Drainage: Well Drained
Light Exposure: Full Sun
Planting Style: Border Edging, Gravel & Drought Resistant Garden, Cottage Garden, Informal Garden, Containers , Coastal Garden, Urban Garden, Courtyard Garden, Banks & Slopes, Flower Beds & Borders
Season of Interest: Summer
Flowering (from - to): July - September
Harvesting (from - to): July - September
Harvesting Instructions: Lavender flowers are at their most fragrant just as they start to open; pick them in the morning once the dew has dried and before too many of their essential oils have been vapourised by the hot summer sun. They can be tied into bunches and dried like other herbs by hanging them in an airy spot, out of direct sunlight until they're fully desiccated. Alternatively, pack them straight into jars with sugar - mix them with 10 times their weight in in sugar and leave them for a few weeks. The sugar will pick up the scent of the lavender and will transform your cakes, icing, pancakes, sponges and more. The leaves can be picked year round - an especially good time to harvest is after the plants have flowered - shear them back to neat domes and keep back some of the clippings for use in the kitchen.
English Lavender is fully hardy and prefers a sheltered position, although it is fairly robust and can tolerate an exposed site. It's best grown in a sunny position and is ideally suited to borders, containers or for use as low hedging.
This variety thrives in most soil types, particularly dry or stony soil. They don't like to sit in wet soil, so it's best to plant them in a position with good drainage. If your soil is particularly heavy, grow it in raised beds or incorporate plenty of grit into the soil before planting. This variety will require regular watering until the roots have anchored into the ground. Once it's established it will require very little water.
English Lavender doesn't require feeding, however you can give it a very sparing feed occasionally with an all-purpose feed to improve the overall plant health. Remove the flowers once they've faded, cutting the plants back by about a third to maintain the neat, bushy shape. Don't cut back into old wood - if you cut beyond the lowest leaves then the plants won't grow back.