Lavender. What’s not to like? You can grow them in pots and containers, plant them in the border or use them as a low hedge or border edge.
With literally dozens of varieties to choose from, it can be daunting to know what to plant. For a plant that ticks all the boxes and was actually bred for the perfume industry, Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ is extremely scented and a great choice for your garden too. But if you are tight on space or garden in pots there’s a new compact and fragrant lavender on the block called ‘Vienco Purple’. It grows to just 40cm and has masses of beautiful, rich purple flowers.
There are so many really good reasons to plant lavender in your garden. Here are five.
If you love the scent of lavender then it is a fantastic plant to grow in your garden. The flowers hold the perfume as they swell from bud to flower and even the foliage is fragrant. Lavender fragrance is calming and healing. You can dry the flowers and make your own room fragrance. Sprinkle dried flowers on the carpet before vacuuming, or add lavender flowers to your bath water. If you want the most fragrant garden lavender then the new Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ is a great choice, it was bred for the perfume industry so it is particularly fragrant. It’s also a beautiful shade of rich mauve. The flower spikes are long and strong with many flowers on each head.
Any broken stems can have the flower heads removed and dried and added to bath salts or pot pourri or sew little lavender bags to place in your clothes drawers to deter moths and make your clothes smell nice. Put one in your suitcase or overnight bag to keep it smelling sweet.
And don’t forget that you can also use lavender flowers to flavour ice-cream, biscuits and cakes.
When your plant has established you can harvest the flowers for indoor arrangements, fresh or dried.
Most varieties have long and strong stems so that you can cut the stems for fresh cut flowers or long stemmed dried flowers. Perfect for lavender bunches. Just cut the stems as long as you can and place in a tall narrow vase for the flower heads to splay out, or hang small bunches upside down to dry. Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ is a great choice with long, beautiful rich mauve flower spikes with many flowers on each head and on long stems. And if you cut the flowers, this variety will produce a second flush of flowers later in the season.
Good for pollinators
Lavender flowers are rich in nectar, which pollinators collect to give them energy. But some lavenders are more attractive to bees than others. Research carried out at Sussex University (Ratneiks) shows that not all varieties were equally attractive and that Lavender x intermedia as a group were more attractive than both the common English lavender (Lavender angustifolia group) and the French lavender (Lavender stoechas). The good news is that Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ is an intermedia type of lavender, so it is one of the best for bees and other pollinators. It’s nectaries are deep in the base of the flowers and so it will be more attractive to the longer tongued bumblebees and other long tongue pollinators such as the hummingbird hawk moth and butterflies.
Edging and hedging
A row of lavender plants makes a fabulous hedge. You could edge a pathway, divide the garden, or delineate the veg patch with this amazing plant. Even in the winter it still holds most of its leaves and offers a soft, silver grey structure along the boundary. When it starts to bud the plants grow taller and the crowd of tall flower stems bursting with lavender blue flowers is simply stunning. Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ grows to around 75cm tall, that’s about 30 inches. The plants will be wider when they are in flower so along a path you will brush past the fragrant flowers and foliage emitting the floral essences as you do. If you want a shorter, compact edge or mini hedge then Lavender ‘Vienco Purple’ is a good choice.
Great Container Plants
If you’ve only got a balcony or a tiny terrace you can still grow lavender. In fact, because it is a hot loving plant, it’s ideal for planting in terracotta pots as the pots hold the heat of the sun. Lavender likes a sunny spot and while it’s important to water plants growing in containers it will thrive in the summer sun. Choose a compact lavender that will really perform well, producing masses of flowers in summer. Lavender ‘Vienco Purple’ is a great choice as it has masses of very fragrant, rich mauve flowers that are ideal for cutting.