By Liliana Usvat
It has been said, “Treat lavender poorly and it will reward you”.
Lavender likes poor, rocky soils, and a dry climate. It rarely, if ever, needs fertilizer. As a native of the Mediterranean, lavender thrives in areas with low rainfall. Interestingly, wild lavender produces oil as sun block. It is this self-defence mechanism that produces essential oil.
Hardy noninvasive perennials, lavenders suit both informal and formal gardens. Mature lavenders form dense mounds of foliage, ranging from grey to green and from 30 to 60 centimetres tall – beautiful even when they’re not blooming.
Lavender is a tough plant and is extremely drought resistant, once established. However, when first starting you lavender plants, don’t be afraid to give them a handful of compost in the planting hole and to keep them regularly watered during their first growing season.
Lavender is an effective treatment for insomnia, there are major published studies that have found that the effects are beneficial enough to be tried as an alternative therapy. Lavender is most often used as a form of aromatherapy. Breathing in the vapors can help with relaxation, which then in turn could treat insomnia. In addition to using the lavender as an essential oil, many use lavender internally by taking it as a tea or tincture.
Lavandula (common name Lavender) is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is native to the Old World and is found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, southern Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India. Many members of the genus are cultivated extensively in temperate climates as ornamental plants for garden and landscape use, for use as culinary herbs, and also commercially for the extraction of essential oils.
More recently work has been done by Upson and Andrews, and currently Lavandula is considered to have three subgenera.
- Subgenus Lavandula is mainly of woody shrubs with entire leaves. It contains the principal species grown as ornamental plants and for oils. They are found across the Mediterranean region to northeast Africa and western Arabia.
- Subgenus Fabricia consists of shrubs and herbs, and it has a wide distribution from the Atlantic to India. It contains some ornamental plants.
- Subgenus Sabaudia constitutes two species in the southwest Arabian peninsula and Eritrea, which are rather distinct from the other species, and are sometimes placed in their own genus Sabaudia.
How to grow it
Given a sunny, well-drained site, lavenders will thrive in dry, poor soil and even self-seed. An annual top dressing of compost and occasional watering during very dry spells is welcome, but avoid overfeeding with high-nitrogen fertilizers or rich manures.
Harvest some or all of the flowers, if you like, or leave them all summer long. Either way, shear back lavenders by about one-third (avoid cutting into older, woody stems) each fall, leaving a compact cushion of leafy stems.
You can always grow your lavender in pots and move it to follow the sun or even bring it indoors for the winter. Keep in mind that although lavender has a large, spreading root system, it prefers growing in a tight space. A pot that can accommodate the root ball with a couple of inches to spare would be a good choice. Too large a pot will only encourage excessive dampness.
Use 4 teaspoons of fresh Lavender or 1 Tbsp. dried. Place in a mug & pour 1/4 cup of boiling water over the Lavender. Use a saucer as a lid & steep 5 minutes.
Lavender is harvested locally during July for fresh or dried bundles, buds, and for distilling the essential oils. The majority of lavender oil is found in tiny glands at the base of each floret. It is also found in the leaves and stems.
Bonnieheath Estate Lavender and Winery is an ecological agri-tourism destination that provides a small farm experience through culture and education from field to final product.
Here is their address: Bonnieheath Lavender
410 Concession 12 Townsend Road
Waterford, Ontario, Canada N0E 1Y0
Here is another Lavander farm address for those that want to visit:
3505 Happy Valley Road
Victoria, BC Canada
Blog 107 – 365