Lavandula angustifolia Munstead
Lavender is up there in the top-ten favourite garden plants, both for its relative ease of cultivation, its beautiful looks and scent and of course its culinary uses. Wikipedia grandly refers to it as native to the 'Old World' (the Eastern Hemisphere), which seems only fitting for such a sublime plant. And did you know the name derives from the Latin 'Lavare', 'to wash', referring to the use of Lavender infusions, although some say it is the Latin word 'livere', 'blueish', that gave this plant its name?
In any case, Munstead Lavender is also known as 'English Lavender' - as are all angustifolia species - a compact evergreen shrub, to 45cm tall, with narrow, grey-green foliage and spikes of small, highly-fragrant, blue-purple flowers in mid to late Summer. Fantastically fragrant and a winner in any cottage garden, border or herb garden, especially as a mass planting. Works just great in containers, too as long as there are holes in the bottom to let excess moisture out.
Lavender grows best in dry, well-drained, sandy or gravelly soils in full sun. All types need little or no fertilizer and good air circulation. In areas of high humidity, root rot due to fungus infection can be a problem - organic mulches can trap moisture around the plants' bases, encouraging root rot - and gravelly materials such as crushed rocks give best results. Preferred soil pH is between 6 and 8.
Lavender flowers on the previous year's growth in spring or early summer, or on the current year's growth in late summer and autumn. Prune immediately after flowering where flowering is on the previous year's growth, or in the subsequent early to mid-spring (April to May) if flowering is on the current year's growth. Remove shoots that have flowered to within 1.5-2.5cm (¾-1in) of the previous year's growth.
Position: Full sun
Season of Interest: Fragrant purple flowers in Summer, culinary use, pollinator plant
Hardiness: Hardy to -10
Height: up to 1.5ft (0.5m) Spread: 2-3ft (0.5-1m)