There is something a bit magical about Lavender.
It can shout summer even in the dead of winter. Even in the dried crumbly flowers filling a lavender sachet I can smell the faintly warm, dusky aroma of sunshine, flip-flops, sunscreen, and slightly melted orange popsicle.
I have planted it, baked with it, dried it and used it in homemade bath tea-bags and given it in a little clay pot as a gift. I’d have to say, this tidy evergreen shrub from the mint family is pretty amazing little plant.
Lavender essential oils can be used as an antiseptic, mild tranquilizer, antidote to some types of snake venom, anti-nausea and anti-headache medicine and perfume to name a few. For some folks it is a powerful allergen.
It is not a fussy plant but it does have a few requirements.
Sun for one…and a very well draining soil and good air circulation which you might think rules out much of the Fraser Valley but you’d be wrong…well except for this year maybe.
The web lists Lavender as zone 5-8 hardy. But you can expect to lose a plant or two each year in the lower zones or the wetter areas.
Lavender tends to live about 5-7 years and then starts to fall apart so don’t hesitate to refresh your plants if they start to look like something the cat dragged in.
Do some trimming on the plant once the blooms begin to fade later summer/early fall.
You can save the rest of the trimming for spring.
Some of the preferred lavender varieties include:
Lavender angustifolia 'Munstead'
An evergreen, perennial shrub with compact, mounding, aromatic gray foliage and abundant, fragrant, rich lavender spikes in summer. Attracts butterflies. Needs full sun. Slow growing, 12-18 inches in height.
Lavender angustifolia 'Hidcote Blue'
A perennial shrub with gray foliage and abundant, fragrant, deep purple, summer blooming flower spikes. Attracts butterflies. Needs full sun. Grows 2-3 ft in height.
Lavender stoechas 'Anouk'
A dense, mounding lavender with gray-green foliage. Butterfly like flowers appear from late spring through fall. Best in full sun. Grows 1 to 1.5ft in height. Not quite as hardy as the other lavenders.
For something different when making a pitcher of lemonade, add a few springs of lavender.
¼ lb unsalted butter or marg
1 cup sugar
2 eggs (one at a time)
1 Tbsp vanilla
zest of one lemon
1Tbsp of dried lavender blossoms (optional)
2 cups flour
1Tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Mix the first six ingredients together in a separate bowl. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in another bowl then add together with the butter and egg mixture until just combined. Shape into a log approximately ¾ inch deep on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for approximately 30 min or until golden. Let cool for 15 min then cut in to biscotti fingers approximately 1 inch thick. Separate and place on their sides, bake 8 min and then flip and bake for another 8 min.
Don’t double this recipe. For some reason it doesn’t seem to turn out as well when doubled.
Enjoy with a nice cuppa Joe or some Earl Grey tea.