Relax with a versatile ‘French’ friend!
Close your eyes for a moment: now, conjour up an image of soft, warm French sunlight and a sea of waving lavender stretching across a hillside – the perfect picture of Provence. Like to go there? Better still, like to bring the sights and fragrances of it home to enjoy everyday? Good news – you can!
Lavender is the heart and soul of this gardening dream – but it’s a dream that you can turn into reality. Easy to grow and tough too - from Scotland to Surrey, from Land’s End to Lowestoft, – plant lavender and you’ll get to enjoy colour and scent, with the bonus of biodiversity too, in the form of beautiful butterflies that will delight children and adults alike.
Colour and aroma
For the full ‘Mediterranean’ effect, seek out species that love it here in the UK too.
Choose Lavandula stoechas for its aromatic scent and striking purple flowers. Lavandula angustifolia is also a beauty. Look out for Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ which is also known as English Lavender – even though it originated in France! It is ideal for cutting and drying indoors, and looks and smells wonderful.
Lavenders give so much in return for little! For best results, prune them hard in April and again in September to keep them healthy and full of life. Otherwise they are hardy and self-reliant, so leave them to it. Just enjoy them for their gorgeous colour and fab fragrance.
Good to know
- If you’re the creative type, there’s lots of scope to bring cuttings inside and extend your enjoyment into the home. Dry cuttings or prunings in bunches and enjoy in the bedroom or bathroom – a soporific waft of lavender scent is perfect for soothing you when sleeping of bathing.
- Dried lavender is ideal for blending with coarse sea salt (one part lavender to 10 parts salt) to bring a surprising flavor to new potatoes or for mixing with garlic to season summer roast lamb.
- Simply arranging some fresh lavender in a vase and putting on the table will bring a feeling of that French hillside right into your home.