October 19, 2012

Lavender - A Treat For The Senses

Lavender for sale in San Francisco Farmers Market.
by Colleen Moulding

Originally found in the Mediterranean countries, the perennial herb lavender, has long been prized for its perfume and medicinal qualities. Used by the ancient Romans for its healing and antiseptic qualities the name itself comes from the Latin "lavare" to wash.

As a garden flower lavender is hard to beat, having fragrance, beauty and a harvest of
sweet smelling blooms.

Old English Lavender, a must for any cottage garden, will grow two to three feet high given a sunny spot in well drained soil, producing fragrant greyish leaves and blue/purple flowers. It is hardy and drought tolerant.

The more compact variety Hidcote, has darker blue flowers, grows to around a foot high and is pretty in the flower or herb garden but stunning as a low hedge that will attract bees and butterflies all Summer long.

It adapts well to growing in containers so if you place some on your patio, deck or sitting out area you will be able to enjoy its heady fragrance as you relax.

The easiest way to propagate lavender is to take softwood cuttings in the Spring. However, as lavender benefits from a light pruning in early Autumn these clippings make excellent new plants too as long as you protect them from frosts.

Lavenders spiky form is always useful in Summer flower arranging. Can you imagine a more welcoming posy for a guest room than lavender freshly picked from the garden mixed with pretty pastel coloured sweet peas and a couple of old fashioned roses?

To dry your lavender, strip the leaves or the just opening flowers from the stalk and spread out in a warm place before using in pot pourris to fragrance your rooms, in cotton sprigged sachets to scent and deter moths from drawers and closets or to tuck between your bed pillows for their sleep inducing qualities.

You can also scent a relaxing and antiseptic bath by tying sprigs of lavender into a piece of muslin and letting the bath water run over it as it fills your bath. If you dont have fresh lavender try adding a couple of drops of the essential oil.

Essential oil of lavender is used in aromatherapy to lift depression, combat tiredness and help relaxation. It has strong disinfectant properties and was even used on the battle fields of World Wars 1 and 11 to prevent infection and relieve pain when other medical supplies were low. A drop of lavender oil mixed with a teaspoon of carrier oil such as grapeseed and massaged into the temples and back of the neck will soothe away headaches. Mixed with a massage oil it is also thought to help relieve the pain of arthritis or aching muscles.

Around the home dried lavender stalks can be burned like incense sticks or burned on the fire for their wonderful fragrance.

Dried lavender can also be tied into wands, wired on to vine wreaths or used in floral
art, candlemaking and many other crafts.

In the garden, in the bath or anywhere around the home lavender really is a wonderful
treat for the senses!

Copyright 2000 Colleen Moulding

Image courtesy of Aviad2001 and Wikipedia.org.

Colleen Moulding is a freelance writer from England where she has had many features on parenting, childcare, travel, the Internet and lots more published in national magazines and newspapers. She has also published a variety of womens and childrens fiction. Her work frequently appears at many sites on the Internet and at her own site for women and children All That Women Want.com a magazine, web guide and resource for women everywhere. http://www.allthatwomenwant.com Why not drop by? It was made for you! Subscribe to the free monthly e-zine containing articles, ideas, tips, site reviews and lots more by sending a blank e-mail to: allthatwomenwant-subscribe@egroups.com