Five reasons to grow lavender

Every garden should have a clump of lavender says Jean Vernon, and here’s why

Fields of Lavender 'Phenomenal' Image: Suttons Seeds
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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.

There are so many really good reasons to plant lavender in your garden. Here are five.

Fantastic fragrance

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.

Cut flowers

When your plant has established you can harvest the flowers for indoor arrangements, fresh or dried.

Perfect for bunching, Lavender ‘Phenomenal’
Image: Suttons Seeds

It has 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

Bumblebees are attracted to the nectar rich flowers
Image: Suttons Seeds

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

Fields of Lavender ‘Phenomenal’
Image: Suttons Seeds

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.

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 lavender that will really perform well, producing masses of flowers in summer. Lavender ‘Phenomenal’ is a great choice as it has masses of very fragrant, rich mauve flowers on long stems that are ideal for cutting. And it will flower again later in the season.

 

 

Jean Vernon

About Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon is a slightly quirky, bee friendly, alternative gardener. She doesn’t follow the rules and likes to push the boundaries a bit just to see what happens. She has a fascination for odd plants, especially edibles and a keen interest in growing for pollinators especially bees. She’s rather obsessed with the little buzzers. Telegraph Gardening Correspondent, mostly testing and trialing products and Editor-In-Chief for Richard Jackson’s Garden.
@TheGreenJeanie
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