Lavender for Longevity

Bee on Lavender (Yun)(Photo from Yun, Creative Commons)

A few gardening and farming enthusiast friends have said independently of each other, “You can’t have too much lavender” and I agree!  While there are 39 known species of flowering plants in the Lavendula genus of the Mint Family (Lamiaciae), the plant most of us know as Lavender is Lavandula angustifolia (formerly known as L. officinalis).  It is  commonly referred to as English Lavender, but is actually native to the Mediterranean (Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, etc).

Lavender Field

Some of the reasons I love Lavender, in addition
to being a beautiful addition to the garden, are that it is:

  • Bee friendly
  • Deer Resistant
  • Gopher Resistant
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Medicinal (essential oil topically is excellent for burns and as a disinfectant)

(photo from Saru and Vamsee’s Travels in Provence, France,
Creative Commons)

THE ENGLISH LAVENDERS

English Lavenders

From left to right: Vera, Munstead, Hidcote, Jean Davis
(photo from Mountain Valley Growers in California)

THE LAVANDINS

Lavindins

From left to right: Grappenhall, Provence, Grosso,
Dutch Mill, Abrialii and Seal
(photo from Mountain Valley Growers in California)

For all of those reasons mentioned agove, and in particular for being both bee friendly and drought tolerant, lavender is a good addition to the garden for bee-longevity and therefore for plant diversity and human longevity as well.

Besides purchasing a plant from your local plant nursery, there are three ways you can create new lavender plants.  It makes a beautiful edge to a long driveway or along a house or even a small strip along the sidewalk in more urban settings.  For this reason it may be preferable (and more cost-effective) to purchase just one or two plants and then propagate your own so you can then have 20 or 30 plants (or more) for less than $10.

  1.  From Seed (in late winter / early spring) For some reason I always believed that small seeds were harder to grow, and the tiny ones, like lettuce and lavender, and was intimidated by them even though I’d grown most everything else from seed.  Then about 10 years ago my sister gave me a little kit to grow lavender seeds and voilà)   This spring we grew Hidcote, Munstead and Provence Lavender from seed (officially Provence is a Lavindin, a hyprid
    • Botanical Interests carries seeds for Hidcote Dwarf
    • Strictly Medicinals (formerly Horizon Herbs) carries a variety of organic seeds, including Broadleaf, Czech, English, French, Hidcote, Munstead & Yellow
  2. From Cuttings (with green stem in spring, summer, autumn)  Start with a plant of your choosing.
  3. Layering (with brown woody stalk in winter) I First learned of the layering technique from herbalist and gardener Marci Tsohonis (of Washington State, owner of Herbal Nature LLC).  She shared photos of lining her whole very long driveway with Lavender.  (I believe hte variety was grosso).  Stunning when in bloom, bee-heaven, and with 50+ plants enough to harvest and make her own herbal products including essential oil for soap.  But even if you don’t want to make anything from it, its still beatuiful and a great contribution to bee food.
    • Lavendery.com has a nice article describing different techniques of layering.

 

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