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Lavender is one of those must have border plants, like rosemary they perfume the air as you brush past them with their sweet, delicate aroma. There are a great many varieties of lavender and it is worth mixing one or two varieties to give added interest to your herb garden.

Lavender in Flower

A native of the Mediterranean, lavenders are bushy evergreens growing up to three feet tall with flowering spikes of six to twelve millimetres.

Lavender seeds are particularly slow to germinate (about five to six weeks) so either buy a small plant from the nearby garden centre or take a stem cutting for propagation, the cutting can be taken at any time but plant the rooted cuttings out in the garden in mid to late spring. Give the plants plenty of space between planting, two to three feet is about right, if you donít want the bushes to spread (which they happily will) then pinch out the flowering spikes before they come into bloom. Cut the plants back once they have finished flowering but not severely, in early Spring they can be cut again to near ground level to encourage healthy, strong growth in the summer. Wait until the following year before cutting the plants flowers, to do this cut stems as soon as you see the buds begin to open. Dry them in bunches and store the stripped leaves and flowers in an airtight container.

Seldom used in cooking other than in some herb de provence mixes and a few biscuit, jelly and dessert preparations, lavender is best known for its use as a potpourri or in scented pillows, sachets etc.

Content and picture © Miles Collins