Fragrant English Lavender as a Garden Border | Pound Ridge Real Estate

History of Lavender

If there’s a single, pervasive reason why you should make lavender a part of your landscape, it is of course the plant’s famous fragrance.

This ancient and aromatic herb once adorned the sacrificial altars of early Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Virgil praised the honey of bees that fed on its sweetness, and the Romans were so fond of using its flowers in their perfumes, soaps and baths that the name “lavender” was derived from the Latin verb lavare, meaning “to wash.”

Years later, France’s Charles VI reclined on lavender-filled satin cushions, Queen Elizabeth I was particularly fond of “lavender conserves,” and in 1895 it was reported that Queen Victoria’s royal residences “are thoroughly impregnated with the refreshing odour of this old fashioned flower, and there is no perfume that the Queen likes better.”

English Lavender and Everything in Between

There are 28 different species of lavender, and many separate varieties among these. The hardiest and sweetest-smelling type is Lavandula vera, better known as “English” or “true” lavender. Also very popular is Lavandula spica, or “spike” lavender, a plant that has broader leaves that contain more oil than do those of L. vera, although its flowers are somewhat less fragrant. Both varieties are frequently grouped under the more general name of Lavandula officinalis.

Though you can grow this herb from seed, its slow germination and low survival rate will try the patience of average gardeners, so it’s generally best to start with nursery plants or take cuttings from a friend’s garden.

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