Gardens - Herb Gardening

A passion for lavender

By
Beckie Fox
Photography by
Bert Klassen

Lavender's dreamy scent is long-standing, but our appreciation of its culinary potential is still growing


Lavenders to grow
Not all lavenders are lilac-coloured; there are white, violet, purple and pink cultivars, too. Most have soft, greyish green, narrow foliage. English lavender blooms in late June, while fringed and lavendin hybrid types bloom slightly later. Here are a few choice varieties, starting with the hardiest.

English lavenders (Lavandula angustifolia)
Known for their sweet, less camphor-like fragrance; Zone 4

  • ‘Hidcote': Dark violet-purple, 30 to 60 cm; good for culinary uses
  • ‘Jean Davis': Pale pink, with olive green leaves, 30 to 40 cm
  • ‘Lady' (a.k.a. ‘Lavender Lady'): Medium lavender-blue, 25 to 38 cm. One of the few seed-grown lavenders that's reliable and blooms in its first year
  • ‘Maillette': Dark lavender, 45 to 60 cm. Known for its sweet scent and high essential-oil content, it's excellent in sachets
  • ‘Munstead': Pale grey-blue, 30 to 40 cm. Often considered the hardiest of the English types; easy to disbud and good for potpourri
  • ‘Nana Alba': White, 20 to 38 cm. Good as an edging plant because of its compact growth
  • ‘Royal Velvet': Dark purple, 60 to 90 cm. A recent cultivar with longer and darker spikes than ‘Hidcote'

Lavendin hybrids (L. x intermedia)
Generally taller than English lavender; good for culinary uses; Zone 7
  • ‘Fred Boutin’: Bright violet-purple, with velvety white foliage, 60 to 75 cm
  • ‘Grosso’: Dark purple, 60 to 75 cm; excellent for drying

Fringed (a.k.a. French) lavender (L. dentata)
Finely toothed leaves (hence its common name); 60 to 90 cm. Rosemary-scented with short spikes of lavender-mauve flowers; bushy habit; good for container-grown topiaries; Zone 8

Spanish lavender (L. stoechas)
Fat, dark purple flower spikes with a lavender-rosemary scent; light green leaves, 45 to 60 cm. Some-times called butterfly lavender because it has little mauve flaps, or ears, on the top of each flower spike; Zone 8

 

 

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