Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My Top Three Lavenders

Welcome to another round of ABC Wednesday! For this week's letter, "L", I've choosen one of my favorite plants, Lavender. This native Mediterranean shrub has a wide variety of colorful and fragrant flowers, is easy to grow, and is useful for cooking, crafts and perfumes. It's been grown for centuries, and as such, has woven itself nicely into our humanity.

from my college plant identification book - I loved this class!

Three of the best known lavenders are:
  • Lavandula angustifolia, English Lavender - a rather skinny flower stalk, probably the most widely planted and hardiest of them all. I like this lavender because it makes me feel English. Might I have a cup of tea?

  • Lavandula dentata, French Lavender - toothed leaves (thus the dentata. I like this lavender because it makes me feel French. (Also, I like knowing that the latin root has to to with teeth.) Ooh la la ...

  • french lavender...I hope you appreciate that I weeded before taking this shot, be it as it may
  • Lavandula stoechas , Spanish Lavender - twin rabbit-like petals, many colorful hybrids. This lavender makes me feel Spanish! There are many new hybrids of lavender with outstanding colors coming into the nurseries these days! Ole!
  • UCD Spanish Lavender

Growing Lavender: Evergreen in the Sacramento Valley (which is one of the 5 Mediterranean climate areas in the world!), lavender is easy to grow. It prefers well-drained soil and little or no fertilizer. Mulching is best done with non-organics, like decomposed granite or pea gravel.

Pruning is necessary to keep lavender within bounds (unpruned lavenders can become sloppy with a lot of central wood...ask my sister, Julie, her lavender has a mind of its own) and should be started when the lavender is young. Prune with caution, however because if cut back too much (into the wood) they may not come back.

Good References: UC Davis' recently published Arboretum All-Stars lists lavender amongst the "100 tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, are easy to grow, don’t need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden".
For more information about lavender, get a copy of The Sunset Western Garden Book (see link at right). It's the must-have reference for gardeners in the west U.S.


  1. Ooh, very informative post! I never knew that lavender came in different colors.. I'm going to have to look for some different photos of Spanish lavender now..

  2. I love lavender. They grow a lot here in the Pacific Northwest. I haven't tried it in my own garden. You might like to see my version of a small garden. It is on a small cedar log float. That's because I live next to it on a big cedar log float. Click on gardening in my topics list to see more about it.

    Here is an April Fools article from our local paper you might get a kick out of, but it did make some of the locals a bit tense! BC sells lake to California. Speaking of lake, I invite you to come see my 10,000 year old lake water. - Margy

  3. Hi, thank you for your comment. :) I live in Sweden.

  4. Garden coach is a cool idea. Hope you are getting a lot of calls for that.

    Visiting from the 31 Day Better Blog Challenge.

  5. Hey... you WON! Check your email or stop by and get me your shipping info so I can get your book out to you!