Gardeners love of lavenders

Gardeners love of lavenders

Lavender originated from the fields of the Mediterranean countries, growing in hot, dry and often poor stony soils. Early claims ranged from its ability to calm lions and tigers, to soothing the trembling and passions of the heart – and if you are ever short of clothesline space you could try spreading washing over your lavender bushes as early laundresses did!

Today it still requires little to keep it happy other than well drained soil and plenty of sun, few pests or diseases bother this plant and the bees love it. Lavender can stand alone in any garden or container and has been used as a hedge around herb and knot gardens for centuries.

All lavenders are scented and although the leaves carry the scent it is the flowers where it is most concentrated. Some flower scents become muted as they dry, but this is not the case with lavenders, they preserve their full aroma. For this reason, dry lavender is one of the most important ingredients in pot pourri and why early housekeepers frequently used it to perfume linens, soaps and lotions. More recently it has also been used in cooking and in baked goods, such as lavender shortbread or lavender syrup, as it goes particularly well with sugary or diary based dishes. Yet as a member of the same family as rosemary, thyme and mint it has also been used in herb rubs.

Lavender medicinal properties are also well documented, once it was sown in to your bonnet for the “comfort of the braine” while we now inhale the fragrance for its calming influence on headaches and insomnia.As it is today, it was invaluable in medieval times to perfume the house and without the benefit of modern chemicals the flowers were spread over floors to repel moths, flies and fleas. Lavender oil was added to beeswax to make a scented furniture polish and to ointments to treat wounds.

With all its usefulness there wouldn’t have been a household without a good store of lavenders flowers.

Lavenders belong to a large family but in general for the garden we mostly plant the varieties, cultivars and hybrids from the Stoechas and Spica group. Although known originally for its striking blue flowers, through development its colours now range from soft pinks through to white.

Stoechas varieties often referred to as French or Spanish lavender, have a petal like flower that grows on top flower bract. These flowers will often mature to show veins in the margins of the petals. The foliage is softer to the touch. Spica varieties produce the best quality oil and a strong scent. It is usually called English lavender it flowers early and for a long time with the flowers growing on stalks high above the bush. 

Lavender and Rosemary linen sachet bags


2 tablespoons Lavender - stripped from their stalks

2 tablespoons Rosemary

2 tablespoons Orris root (available from Chemist and Health food stores)

2 whole cloves


Mix together and fill your bags, this make one sachet, increase proportions to how many you want. The bags can be made out of silk, muslin, cotton, lacy handkerchiefs or doilies.