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A Lavender Moment

by CountryLife Gardening | Jun 05, 2015

English lavender and French lavender are the most common
Lavender is a plant which immediately conjures up those iconic images of rolling hills of purple which stretch for mile and miles in France. And while we may have the opportunity to visit these rolling hills at some point in our lives for many the closest they will get is lavender here in Ireland.

Now thanks to the traditionally good ‘Leaving Cert Weather’ expected over the coming weeks we may even get a chance to pretend we are in the South of France in the comfort of our own homes, even if just for a brief period.

When it comes to lavender there are two main varieties that most people will come across in Irish garden centres. English lavender and French lavender are the most common but you will from time to time come across Spanish and also Italian lavender. All of which have different flower types, aromas and growing habits.

But today we will just focus on English and French lavender to keep it simple.

The easiest way to tell the two apart is by the flowers. French lavender has almost feather like tips to its flowers while English lavender does not. French lavender is also exclusively purple or lilac in colour while English lavender can come in shades of purple, pink or white.

English lavender is the hardiest out of the two and can survive a harsh winter (to a degree) which can make it a better option for people living in exposed areas.

Sugarberry Ruffles is a great one with pale lilac almost pink flowers.

French lavender would benefit from a more sheltered garden where very low temperatures are a minimum.

With both cases soil is very important. Lavender likes a loose free draining soil and will not perform well in wet clay soils. This is why you will often see lavender planted in raised beds or even in pots in some areas.

At the moment we have a great selection of French and English lavenders in the store. Sugarberry Ruffles is a great one with pale lilac almost pink flowers. While Lilac Wings and Victory are also great lavenders to consider.  

When it comes planting, lavender is very versatile and can work equally as well planted alone as a specimen plant as it does in large groups or sways within a flowerbed. One of the most iconic ways to use it though is to plant it in rows along footpaths or the edges of flowerbeds. This is a throwback to those rolling hills of lavender in France.

Using the plant in this way can create great impact leading up to an entrance and makes for a fragrant welcome. Lavender Hipcote is an English lavender which makes the best hedging thanks to its dense habit and abundance of flowers.
Lavender Hipcote is an English lavender which makes the best hedging thanks to its dense habit and abundance of flowers.While we have a special on 2lt lavenders at the moment with two for €12 this would work out expensive if you were to plant a large stretch of hedging. This is where multipacks of smaller plants come in to play and while they will take longer to establish and knit together they will work out more economical.

Lavender is a plant which requires very little attention. In terms of feeding a boost in spring with crushed fish and bone mix will encourage flowering and can be followed with tomato feed during flowering. Once the flowers begin to fade you can give them a light trim to remove the flowers and general tidy up. Then in spring, just before new growth starts, you can prune hard to improve the overall shape of the plant.

Read my blog on drying lavender "Mum's Top Tip"

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!