Lavender Gardens

Lavender a plant that looks and smells terrific in fields and in small town gardens is something you should look at as part of an edible garden. It is also good for the environment as it provides food for bees.

A small field of lavenderIn France, you might see fields upon fields of lavender heads swaying in a very heady and heavily scented breeze. You don't need to go that far to see lavender. Washington state has some lavender farms that are doing a brisk business in lavender and lavender-based products. You don't even need to go that far from your home. Stay at home and grow any one of a large number of different types of lavender.

Lavender likes dry, hot weather, so keep it out of the shade and keep it in well drained soil. Cut it back at the end of each season about 1/3 of the way down the new growth.

The flowerscan be candied by carefully pulling the flower off the woody stem and dropping in a simple syrup briefly then putting on a sheet to dry. Put freshly cut flowers into a bag of sugar, shake every few days, and after a few weeks, you will have lavender sugar to spice up lemonade, baked goods such as scones. Dry the flowers, mix withbasil, fennel, oregano,savory, thyme, and perhaps a dash of rosemaryandmake "herbes de Provence" and grill up some lamb. When cutting the flowers for this purpose, consider cutting some stalks with both buds and opened flowers. The buds will have the most intense flavors but the flowers will look the prettiest.

Close up of lavender

Take dried lavender bundles and put them in closets, above headboards, in bathrooms and you'll have a fresh smell that will last all winter. The scent of lavender is one of the smells that is claimed to be relaxing and you can make a pillow with a sachet of lavender enclosed to keep you breathing the perfume of the lavender through your nap. It has claims on other medicinal qualities as well such as being antiviral, a decongestant, insecticide, hair loss (for people with alopecia areata), and many others, but most of these require you to press a substantial amount of lavender to get the oil in the first place. Lavender oil for a lot of these reasons is a perfect oil for massages, so if you have access to a massage therapist, try bringing a batch of your homemade lavender oil for your next rub down. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid exposure to lavender, especially oral, and always check with a doctor before going too far down the lavender field and growing acres of it.

Artistically, lavender adds accents, color, and structure to a garden. Its woody lower areas, if well pruned will look attractive for years. Consider using them alongside paths as they will help welcome your guests (and you!).

Category: Northwest Gardening

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