by David Salman
Long-Blooming Lavender Collection
The genus Lavandula (Lavender) is of huge horticultural importance. And this is especially true in the waterwise (xeric) landscape where these plants take center stage because they are resilient, low-water evergreen shrubs. In the garden they resist browsing animals because of the aromatic oils in the leaves and flowers. They feed a wide array of pollinators with their nectar-rich flowers. Lavender can delight, feed and relax humans with the aromatic oils contained in the leaves and flowers. Indeed, Lavandula has been associated with mankind since Roman times.
The Origins of Lavandula
There are 39 recognized species in the genus Lavandula all of which hale from the Old World, spanning a huge area from the Canary Islands across the Mediterranean into southwestern Asia. However, horticulturally, there are three primary groups that provide us with the vast majority of cultivated varieties: English lavender, French hybrid lavender and Spanish lavender. English Lavender is the most cold hardy while cold tender Spanish lavender is best for hotter, more humid mild winter regions. French hybrids types fall into the middle for cold tolerance and are the largest growing of the lavenders, most commonly used for cooking and lavender crafting (wreaths, wands, sachets).
Lavender's Basic Requirements in the Garden
In the garden, the key to successful cultivation of Lavender is to provide them with:
- A fast draining sandy or gravelly soil, mulch with gravel mulch.
- Full sun and heat.
- Regular watering their first season in the ground to establish their extensive root systems followed by, reduced frequency of irrigation the second growing season. Most Lavender plants reach maturity by the end of the third growing season at which time their need for supplemental irrigation is such that a good soaking every 2 to 4 weeks (depending on daytime heat) is all they need.
New: Long-Blooming Lavender Collection
To introduce waterwise gardeners to this indispensable group of culinary/ornamental herbs, we have put together a long-blooming, cold-hardy collection of Lavender varieties that will provide flowers from late spring into early fall. This collection includes a wonderful mix of English and French hybrids that have a variety of flower colors and a range of mature plant sizes. The collection includes one plant each of the following cultivars:
Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender)
- Lavender 'Sharon Roberts' - A twice blooming variety with long, thin flower spikes that are distinct from most other English types. Deadhead 'Sharon Roberts' after the first flush of flowers are done in mid- to late June and the plant comes back into color in early fall.
- Lavender 'Blue Cushion' - A non-stop bloomer that flowers from late spring into mid- to late summer. This is a low, but very wide growing selection that can reach four feet in diameter at maturity.
- Lavender 'Miss Katherine' - the very best pink flowered lavender which always elicits comment from people who see it for the first time. 'Miss Katherine' has the deepest pink flowers in the family.
Lavandula intermedia (French hybrid Lavender)
- Lavender 'Gros Bleu' - my hands down favorite of the French hybrid types, 'Gros Bleu' (Big Blue) has the sweetest fragrance and darkest blue flowers of these hybrids types, and only grows to moderate size. And unlike any other lavender I've grown, It's flower spikes are re-blooming, so don't deadhead 'Gros Bleu' until the first frosts of fall.
- Lavender 'Grosso' - one of the largest growing of this group, 'Grosso' is also one of the most cold hardy of the French hybrids and has the darkest blue flowers. An older variety, it's a mainstay of the lavender industry in Europe.
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