By MJ Cowling
My childhood memories of lavender all revolve around my grandmother’s home, lavender scented drawer liners, sachets of dried herbs in the bedroom, perfumed hand creams and lotions and lavender scented perfume. At the time I thought that lavender was just a pretty scented flower, I didn’t equate it with medicinal benefits or healing.
Fast forward to many years later and I now understand that this herb has many more benefits than just scenting the lingerie drawer. It is a staple in both my personal garden and the ele kitchen garden, for both its visual pleasure and multitude of uses, from medicinal to healing and cooking.
In the ele kitchen garden we grow French and English lavender varieties in the palest of pinks and white through to the classic deep purple. Growing this herb is fairly straightforward if you observe some simple steps:
Lavender prefers a Mediterranean temperate climate – hot, dry summers with cool winters. Some varieties will tolerate frost and humidity, check with your local nursery which varieties are best for your area.
Hot, sunny, sheltered positions are best for lavender, they love the hot afternoons but do not tolerate strong winds so choose a spot with some shelter and plenty of sunshine.
3. Soil & Water
Well draining soil is a must, lavender doesn’t like having its feet wet for long periods of time so if your soil is not well draining try potting your lavender in pots or raised garden beds.
4. Companion Planting
Companion plant with rosemary, mint, drought-tolerant roses and thyme. Lavender doesn’t need much (if any) fertiliser and little watering once established so choose companion herbs and plants that also have these requirements.
As lavender is a deterrent for many insect pests and larger garden pests like rabbits and deer, it is good to plant lavender near the vegetable garden to keep pests at bay.
Keep lavender in good shape by trimming off flowers once they have finished blooming and give more mature plants a good cut each season (trim back by up to a third) to encourage new growth.
Lavender is also a beautiful garden addition just for its looks and scent, use it to line pathways, garden beds or as potted colour on a balcony or small space garden. Lavender attracts bees which are beneficial for the garden and are the world’s greatest pollinators, so planting lavender has the added benefit of helping the environment.
There are so many health benefits and uses for lavender, it’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties are said to help with insomnia, anxiety, headache relieve, insect bites and digestive issues.
A bunch of dried lavender by the bed or a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow each night is a blissful way to help with a good nights sleep.
So whether you love it for its beauty, it’s medicinal purposes or simply for its scent and colour try growing some beautiful lavender in the garden, it is one herb that keeps on giving year after year.
Want more Lavender? Read about our visit to a beautiful Swiss Italian Lavender Farm in Australia.