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Lavender - The Plant


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The Song of Lavender (La Chante de la lavande)

 

Close up of lavender flowersMuch can be written about lavender species there are a multitude of common names and varieties available. Botanically they can be divided into three sub-generic lavenders. These are:

Stoechas type lavender is an ancient species from the Mediterranean. Often referred to as Spanish, Italian and/or French lavender, it was used by the Romans extensively and is distinguished by large compressed spikes. Lavendula dentata, the French Lavender is characterised by their plump compressed spike topped by a tuft of large upright lavender coloured bracts. A very hardy plant, easily grown in South Australia. The fragrance of these lavenders is a refreshing blend of camphor and lavender with minty undertones, often used in household products.

“True” lavender [“English lavender’] L. angustifolia is the plant grown for oil at McLaren Vale. There are many, many cultivars of this plant however they all have the same charming characteristics – a refreshing, timeless fragrance highly prized in the perfume industry and as the most versatile essential oil in aromatherapy. Horticuturally it grows in full sun, hardy, and is wonderful planted on its own, in borders or hedges and comes in a variety of colours ranging from white, pink, purple and all shades of blue.

Pterostachy lavender look quite different to the others however they carry the same characteristics and are a very beautiful plant. The leaves are green and have a fern-like appearance with the flowers borne in thin winged spikes of rich blue and purple. The bush is erect in habit and flowers for 6 months of the year in South Australia. The fragrance is not that associated with 'true' lavender and has more of an aromatic scent.

Lavender fieldAll lavenders like the same growing conditions – a sunny open site, a handful of lime once per year and a good pruning at the end of each flowering season. Lavenders are fairly drought tolerant once established, however, a good watering once per week in the first summer will ensure the establishment of a happy, healthy plant.

Enjoy the beauty and benefits of this wonderful plant.