Book Notes: Lavender, The Grower’s Guide


For far longer than I care to ponder I’ve had a rather hazy relationship with lavender. I know it when I see it. I’ve grown it successfully in the dampness of North Carolina, the deserts of Arizona and the lush soils of California. But could I tell you any details? Not really. So I jumped at the opportunity Timber Press afforded me when they published Lavender: The Grower’s Guide by New Zealand horticulturist Virginia McNaughton.

In my own garden I have a huge plot of lavender in bud, captured here on a recent foggy morning. From my reading this book I believe these are angustifolias, the spindly, skinny versions that we most commonly see in gardens.

I love the lavender at this stage. It is already ripe with perfume when I water it or brush by it. But I am filled with anticipation of what is about to unfold, because ultimately, this is what this lavender patch will look like, as it did last summer.

And then it will be a mass of bees and butterflies for weeks and I adore that stage of its life (and mine). This plant is, indeed, a gift to all the bees in your neighborhood.
happy bee photo courtesy of Antonia Hall

Also gracing my garden are the lavenders called Stoechas. They appear to have little wings on top and are very endearing. Propagation requires taking soft wood cuttings from the plant.

Lavender has been a regular part of my life for many years now. I use lavender oil regularly in my baths. And I never fail to take a bottle of lavender oil with me when I travel as I know the restorative powers of its fragrance, sprinkled on a pillowcase or, again, in a relaxing bath to take the stress out of travel. The bottle (found at any good health food store) is so small one can easily drop into ones purse and be relied upon as a quick resource when one needs a mental adjustment. I liked the lavender notes in the introduction to this book that read:

“Spiritually, lavender is considered a plant that will raise perceptiveness and take an individual to higher states of consciousness during mediation. Since fabled Lemurian times, special devas or plant guardians were appointed to look after the plants until such time as mankind was able to absorb greater knowledge. Its therapeutic use in aromatherapy and its wide range of healing applications as well as other fragrant and ornamental uses make lavender one of the most versatile of herbs. It is truly a magical plant and those who have ever been enticed and enchanted by its sweet, heady perfume become enamoured for life.”

Yes, I’d say I’m a lifelong fan. You?

Looking about my own environs I discovered a neighbor who had used lavender in a very efficient and beautiful way, lacing it with other plants such as roses, guara, and rock rose, creating a natural boundary between her property and the sidewalk that ran before her home. What a lovely “fence”!

Happily, Lavender: The Grower’s Guide will serve as the only book you will ever need to identify more than 200 species and cultivars of lavender, and will provide you with all the information you will need to lovingly include this most exquisite addition to your garden. Enjoy!

Love and gardening blessings,
Kathryn xoxo
Footnote pics for Ewa in Poland (See comment below! :)):
So this is the very old structure holding this in place, Ewa. Have you ever seen lavender this old? No? Neither have I. The woman who most likely planted this was the wife of the man who built this house many decades ago. And this is a small town so old timers remember that she was president of the local gardening club! So in our nineties this is what we apparently have to look forward to in our gardens! πŸ™‚ I guess!

And following is what that patch of lavender looks like at the moment. But within a month or so after all the bees have gathered all their pollen and the butterflies have come to visit and the lizards have hidden underneath it [anyone remember?] it will simply fall over from all the love and visitors. Think of it as the Velveteen Rabbit of Lavenders. πŸ™‚ xoxo

14 Responses to “Book Notes: Lavender, The Grower’s Guide”

  1. I am also in love with lavender – every year adding more of them to my garden. When I have more of them, I will try to make own lavender oil πŸ™‚
    Xo xo

  2. Ahh, lavender.. an absolute favourite of mine! Your large and Beautiful lavender plants are such a Joy, the scent drifting on breezes. I’m also a fan of what can be made from the plant, including lavender infused teas. πŸ™‚

    Love you,

  3. Hi, Ewa! Have you done a post on your lavenders? I will come see. I’d love to see your collection! I would be so sad to have a garden that did not include a lot of lavender. It’s definitely one of my favorites, too! Making oil would be so interesting! Hope you do! Kathryn xoxo

  4. So wonderful. I admit that growing it as more than an annual here has eluded me, too wet and not enough sun, but there is a house in Old Worthington with a south-facing limestone wall that has a good crop fencing off the top of the wall and It’s been there for years. There is also a lavender farm in Marysville who come to Worthington Farmers Market. I always buy lavender to tuck in with wedding presents. Somewhere i learned that new brides should always have lavender, but I don’t remember where that memory comes from. So for the time being, I’ll just grow it on Farmville! Hugs and go smell some for me.

  5. Good morning, Antonia! Lavender infused teas sound really wonderful! We should experiment! Love, Mom xoxo

  6. Hi, Julie, Not surprised you are also a fan of lavender! Yes, I guess in some climates it must be grown as an annual. Still so worth it! Love, Kathryn xoxo

  7. Hi Kathryn,
    Well, in one of those co-incidences I have been obsessed with lavender recently!
    My brother recently purchased a house, and wants a lavender hedge with roses. I mean, and there is the photo right here! I have been noticing lavender everywhere I go to observe the different effects to see what would work best for him. ( I do not think I have spotted 200 cultivars! That is amazing!

    Wonderful part on the Devas. i love that.

  8. Hi, Philip! Oh, how fun! Synchronicity! Isn’t that border divine? I love it! I am inspired to line my sidewalk coming up to the house with same. Bee Heaven. πŸ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

  9. Dear Kathryn, I was thinking about your lavender patch and how it looks in the summer and maybe the the reason is too low pruning? With higher pruning every year, you can establish a hard wood base which supports the plant. You amy shape the base flat or round for more stems and blooms.
    Happy Sunday πŸ™‚

  10. Dearest Ewa, Oh, God bless your heart, my friend, for giving my falling lavender a second thought. Very touching. I guess it does require some explaining! I’ve gotten so used to it I forget others might wonder. I inherited a very old garden in (largely) disrepair when I moved here. I bet that lavender, gosh, is decades old. And underneath all that sprawling lavender is a foot and a half or more of old woody heavy thick “hard wood base”. Trust me on this. I might post a pic as a footnote so you can see. πŸ™‚ So it’s SO old and SO thick and probably so overdue (from its perspective) that all it can do is sprout forth from that woody top (which I do, religiously prune every year) and, BOOM, fall over! LOL! I’ll show you. I’ll go shoot behind the scenes right now. Love you, dear. Thank you for your caring concern. πŸ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

  11. Kathryn! Thanks for posting that photo – OMG this old lavender wood looks so beautiful. BTW this is so interesting what local people remember – hmmm?

  12. Hi, Ewa, Yes, that old lavender wood is very beautiful, and hiding under all that flower beauty and bees and butterflies at the moment. And, yes, it continually fascinates me that people in this town remember the stories of old. It’s amazing. Kathryn xoxo

  13. i love lavender i do complementary therapy(holistics) at college and when i use the oil it just reminds me of going through a lavender field mmmmmm

  14. Hi, Melissa and welcome! Good to hear you are using lavender in that healing context. Also nice to hear you have the association of a lavender field! Good sign! Kathryn xoxo

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