Sunday, December 20, 2009



Lavender is almost universally loved. What’s not to like—it has wonderful fragrance, aromatherapy and medicinal uses, and is an attractive plant in the garden. We carry nine varieties of lavender. All are fragrant and most are winter hardy here. The main differences will be the size of the plant and flower color. Here’s a guide to help you choose the right variety for your garden.

Compact forms are about 12”-15” tall (foliage) with flower stems standing above that. All plants are proportional, so compact varieties are shorter, not as wide and have shorter flower stalks than taller cultivars. ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Lady’ are very similar with attractive dark purple flowers. ‘Hidcote Pink’ has flowers that are pink in bud.

Mid-sized varieties run 18”-20” tall and are wider with slightly longer stems than compact types. ‘Munstead’ is extremely hardy, has lavender blooms and is the most common cultivar sold. ‘Twickel Purple’ has a slightly darker flower. Taller forms include ‘Grosso’ and ‘Alba’. They reach about 24” tall, with long stems reaching up an additional foot. ‘Grosso’ has purple flowers and blooms slightly later, which is nice for extending your season of bloom in the garden. ‘Alba’ has white flowers which are just as fragrant as purple blossoms.

We carry two cultivars that aren’t winter hardy here. Both have larger, showier flowers than perennial lavenders. French lavender has purple blooms and very fragrant, fringed foliage. ‘Kew Red’ has big, showy flowers in a purple-red shade that’s most unusual. These lavenders are generally treated as annuals and are very effective in mixed container plantings.

All lavenders love sun and well drained soil. Plant in as much sun as possible. You’ll need a minimum of 4-6 hours of sun per day for best blooming. Lavender doesn’t need particularly fertile soil, but it must drain quickly. Add compost or even sand to loosen clay soil and improve drainage. Planting in a raised bed or sunny slope promotes better drainage. Lavender likes soil on the alkaline side, so mix in some lime when planting.

“Gardeners are generous because nature is generous to them.”
… Elizabeth Lawrence

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