My lavender hedge is stunning this year! I've put together a couple of fresh bouquets for drying, and I'm planning to pick some more before they start fading too much. My niece and I made "lavender wands" this week -- a wonderful project! Pick some long stemmed lavender blooms and put them in water for the weekend so they stay flexible... I've got an article on the schedule for Sunday (there was an opening then) with step by step photos and directions for weaving the wands. You'll need a roll of quarter inch ribbon, too.
What are you doing to save some of that wonderful aroma for the winter months? Sachets? Bundles? ??
Sachets, freezer bagged to freshen bowl for fondling beside computer, and in herb de provence mix for cooking. I'm also going to try the ice cube method together with viola blooms for party drinks. Although I guess the last two are more taste and look rather than scent related.
Just made strawberry/lavender jelly. Will be making lavender cookies again this weekend for a garden club that is coming to tour the gardens. Made them last weekend for the volunteer fire department's bake sale fund raiser and the people who bought them tracked me down to see if I would make more. Also, lavender truffles are delicious. Oh yeah, I teach a class in cooking with lavender! Lavender sugar rimmed on a glass of lemonade is terrific.
I also make lavender/flax seed eye pillows, lavender salve, etc. Will get out our tabletop distilling equipment and see about making some hydrosol and essential oil this year!
I can't bake with my lavender, as it's the wrong kind (very resin-y flavor). But I just put in 3 English lavenders in another bed that I think might be nice for cooking... maybe they'll bloom for me next year. :-)
Mine doesn't smell as powerfully after a week or so, but there's a faint scent of lavender even on some dried bundles from a couple of years ago. But if I want more scent on a dried bouquet, I "cheat"... I just add a drop or two of lavender oil (the dried stems soak up the oil nicely).
Critterologist, that's so pretty!!!!! I can only imagine the smell. May I ask, when you planted your hedge, did you use plants or did you sow seeds? and how long it took to get as thick as those?
The three quart size pots I planted are growing well, but no signs of blooms yet. Then last week, I found 9 more ( 4 assorted ) at a Farmers Market who grows them locally. (well, 100 miles away) I know they probably won't bloom this year, but I had to have them anyway. ^_^ I was like a kid at a candy store!
I used plants... that's 8 or 9 plants of 'Fat Spike' (L. grosso) purchased in 4 inch pots hmm, I guess 6 years ago if I haven't lost track. It's an especially vigorous variety, but I thought I'd killed it last spring when I pruned it "on time" for once and then we had a week of freezing temps (during which I covered the whole hedge in plaid flannel sheets, quite a sight)... but it forgave me and came back stronger than ever.
By the way, I took that photo after having clipped out 2 big buckets of blooms... barely made a dent!
I'll be sure to give the article a bump next year, nannie, when you've got blooms to play with! I pruned my plants a lot the first year or two, pinching back the tips so they'd grow full & bushy, so I didn't get many blooms until the 3rd year... then, WOW!
I just read an article (on English Lavender) that stated you should mulch with turkey grit, or if you cant find that, (at your local feed store) use the white landscape stones found at a garden center. This gardener says that the light stone reflects the sun under the leaves and allows stems to dry out quickly after rain or watering, which prevents rot.
It makes sense, but I dont know if I really want the stones in my beds.
Threegardeners, the same article said to harvest in the mornings to hold the fragrance. Maybe that will make a difference.
Tom DeBaggio (our local herb guru) also says to mulch with an inch or two of sand or pea gravel (small gravel), for the same reason. You can't see the gravel any more under our lavender hedge, but it's there! I think it really did help when the plants were small. The foliage in the middle of the plants has pretty much died back, probably due to the humidity, but it doesn't seem to be a big deal (sort of like what happens with some evergreen shrubs), and there are plenty of healthy looking leaves in the outer 6 inches of the plants' diameters (not counting bloom stems).
I just cut 3 more bundles (at least 3 inches across the base) from the hedge to send home with friends this morning. The hedge still looks pretty full... :-)
I would too if I had been able to get mine out early enough. I probably shouldnt have bought the last ones, because the Aug heat will mean lots of watering, but the new view from my kitchen window is going to be worth it!
Must confess --- I did nothing at all with my lavender this year as I still haven't done anything with the crop that I harvested last year! I did finally get out today and cut off all the dead blossom stems, so if I wasn't too late, there may be a second bloom this year. Don't know that I'll do anything with that one either, if it happens.
Yup, last year I did get two blooms. I had read that tip somewhere and sure enough, it worked. Just please don't ask me which kind of lavender I have as the tags on the original plants are long since gone and I surely don't remember.
I have this hedge, in its 3rd year, which is a mix of L. intermedia 'Grosso' and L. angustifolia 'Hidcote Blue'. This is about 1/2 of it because I can't get it all in the photo. At one end is a sole "white lavender", which, unfortunately, is done blooming. In retrospect, I wish we had ised only the 'Grosso', because it stands up straighter, whereas 'Hidcote Blue' tends to 'slump', especially with all the rain we have had since it started to bloom. Way over on the far end, next to the white lavender, is a 'Grosso' that moved here in a pot with us 4 summers ago. By the time I went to unpot it and plant it properly, it was so well rooted that I had to leave it. Now, the interesting thing about this one is that, probably because the part of the roots still in the plastic pot get heated more quickly, is that it is the first to bloom each year! I should trim it and the white one and we'll get a guaranteed 2nd bloom. In fact, if we actually DO harvest the lavender, we always get a 2nd bloom. But, 1 harvest is gigantic!!!
We also have several L. stoechas ("Butterfly Lavender) scattered around the garden, including really nice white and pink ones that I got as rooted cuttings from Vernon's Geranium Nursery this Spring. They are both cute as can be, although the slugs decided to breakfast on the pink one, so it's just getting along.
Most of out lavender is never harvested because it is in among the roses to deter aphids. Seems to work for that, but the whitefly ignore it!
At this time of year, I send my wife into her office laden with "bouquets" made up of about 25 stems tied with lavender ribbons to distribute among her colleagues, and it seems to be an annual hit! We have baskets and Thai bowls and Cambodian enamelware all over the house with lavender in them. We put clusters of stems in the linen drawers. We give masses of it away, usually in baskets because neither of us is very 'crafty'. We make (and give away) lavender-flavoured vinegar. I use it on the grill when roasting lamb or chicken; sometimes in stews. The 'Grosso' is good for this kind of cookery, critter, because it's real close to rosemary.
I'm not going to get to Upstate New York (or Maine) for a lavender cooking class, as you know herbalbetty, so are there seeds you'll swap for your lavender cookie recipe?
~ 3gardeners, if you can put it in the garage in the winter so the pots don't freeze all the way through, you can grow it as a pot plant, and it WILL get bigger each year. You might try what I did by accident and just put some out in the garden in their pots (this pot was just set on the soil). That plant is about my most vigorous plant. The biggest is a 'cripple' that we removed from the 'hedge' in the second summer but, instead of composting it, because it still had some 'green', I stuck it in an empty space in another garden plot. Just went out and measured it and it's wider than my 2 metre ruler!
~ mscheinost: they don't like acid soil and they need really fast draining soil. They rot at the roots if they get too wet. You might give the potted plant in the garden "method" a try, also.
Lavender is so wonderful! And the butterflies and bees it attracts all summer are a delight. (Wish I knew where all that lavender honey of mine is being made!)
Thanks for the tip about using 'Grosso' in cooking -- I had assumed it was just a no-go! :-)
OK, next year the whole hedge is going to get a big harvest haircut... I wonder if I've waited too long this year to stimulate a second bloom... the stems are nearly bloomed out now.
My hedge is slumping now, after a couple of good storms and probably also because we've harvested probably 1/4 of the bloom stems at least by now. It's still pretty, though, and boy does it smell wonderful! The bees are busier than ever, and I'm seeing more variety this year. Usually, it's all huge black bumblebees (probably carpenter bees, I think), but this year there are definitely some honeybees and an assortment of other little ones.
You are a bit cooler than I am, so you might not want to cut the whole thing, critter. Try just a few plants. maybe. Or, if it's all bloomed out, why not cut it all? I don't cut for the second bloom until the 1st has lost color.
The bees on our lavender are almost all honeybees, but we also get several species of "solitary" bees. I want to make a "home" for those guys this year.
But the butterflies are the best!
This is Iphiclides podalirius [Scarce Swallowtail], my favorite of our visitors.
i bought my first lavender plant this year 'provence' i think and its growing slowly but looks very healthy. no blooms...does lavender bloom in its first year? i bought it at home depot in a 6 inch pot the kind that you take off wrapper and plant the whole thing. i do love those no root disturbances or shock.
Sometimes you'll get blooms the first year, but often not.. I don't know if it's just a timing thing or maybe also a matter of the plant settling in to its new home. Pinching back the branches (by no more than 1/3 of their length, and not further back than where you see vigorous growth) will promote branching for a fuller, bushier plant. All lavender should be pruned back annually for best growth (DeBaggio says to do this in early spring just when growth starts), but young plants can be pinched repeatedly for best shape.
thanks so much for the help! well i guess i will have to wait and see if buds form. if it doesnt bloom this year there is always next year : )
critter i have always been afraid to pinch plants until...my mints started blooming : 0 now i pinch pinch pinch lol.
I don't know if anyone's still looking at this thread, but I wanted to say that my lavender has done beautifully this year as well, and I've been able to dry so many blossoms that I tried something different: I fill a small jelly jar with the blossoms, covered them with vodka, put the top on tight, and set it out in the sun for about 18 days. Then I strained off the flowers (to use in my "face tea", which I make every night to wash my face with, with all kinds of combinations of herbs) and put the lavender "water" in a pretty old bottle. I dab some on every time I walk by the bottle, and before I go to bed at night. It smells delicious and is cooling too. Of course, it's not purple like some commercial lavender water is, it's kind of brownish, but that's fine with me! All natural!
Denatured alcohol has a worse smell than "regular" alcohol due to the things they put in it so you won't drink it! For a face toner, try infusing your lavender in witch hazel. It's much nicer on the skin (alcohol can be very drying) and won't interfere with the lavender smell. Of course, you can take the lavender vodka and add some of it to witch hazel to get that concentrated smell, but not so much drying effect.
Witch hazel is a small tree, http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/806/, and the bark is made into an astringent tincture. It's a common over-the-counter product here, sold right along with rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. Google "witch hazel" or "witch hazel water" for more than you want to know, LOL.
I used vodka because that's what I had on hand, and no, there is no alcoholic scent, just the wonderful lavender!!!! I just dab it on my skin, not on my face, so I'm not so concerned about the drying effects. In fact, with the alcohol, it's quite cooling as it dries, so it's nice on a hot day when you dab it on the back of your neck!!! ahhhhhh...
Me either! I guess I can try hamamelis. There is enough naturopathy mixed in with pharmacy here that I'll bet someone will know what I want. Is this available in large bottles in the US? Do I use it undiluted? I'm thinking that this could make wonderful Christmas gifts.
Although there are a few seed-grown varieties, I think most lavender cultivars are propagated from cuttings so they'll remain true to the parent plant. I've never seen anything that looked remotely seed-like on any of my lavenders, even when I left "dead" blooms on the plants and then crumbled them onto a plate so I could look closely, so I'm guessing mine may be sterile (or else I'm just missing the seeds, which I believe are pretty tiny).
That's probably the same as the "grain alcohol" we can get here... it's pretty much odorless and tasteless, so should work fine... it's what the college fraternity guys used to slip into punch at parties so unsuspecting young girls would drink more alcohol...
Potogere, I really think you're better off using the vodka or alcohol. I looked for my bottle of witch hazel last night, and took a whiff of it, and I don't think it smells very good. I'm not sure how it would mix with the lavender scent. The vodka doesn't have any scent at all, I just smell the lovely lavender!!
Dahlia, I have the Munstead and the Provence lavenders, and I love them both! But the Provence is my most prolific bloomer, and I like the plant shape better.
Nannie, I'll try a sip later (can't do it now, have to take the dog to a vet appointment) and let you know!!! Yup, a nice vodka tonic after a hot day working out in the garden is a nice treat!!