- 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 ...
- 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!
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.