Lavender

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Photo courtesy of W. Smith

Lavender is one of the most beloved of all plants. From ancient Rome’s baths where it was infused into the waters to medieval apothecaries to it’s reign as the signature scent of Provence, lavender is truly among horticultural royalty.

Unfortunately, it is also very challenging to grow here in the gardens of the Deep South due to our oppressive heat and humidity. A couple of varieties that I have had a lot of success with are “Fernleaf” and “Provence” lavender.

“Fernleaf” is a prolific grower with lacy foliage and profuse flowering all season long. It has a weaker, more medicinal scent than most lavenders, but what it lacks in scent, it makes up for with an abundance of flowers. “Fernleaf” must be brought into the greenhouse when the temperature drops below freezing, or you could just start it from seed every spring, as it is much easier to germinate than most lavenders.

“Provence” does have that classic scent of “Hidcote” and other English varieties in it’s foliage, but it is much stingier with flowering. More tolerant of low temperatures than “Fernleaf”, I left one in the ground this winter and potted another up for the greenhouse and both have done remarkably well.

I don’t forsee myself harvesting armfuls of lavender or anyone mistaking my backyard for Provence, however just being able to grow a few of these magnificant plants satisfies my lavender fix, and for all their fussiness, they are most decidedly worth the effort.

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Photo courtesy of David Biesack

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