Last year I came across an episode of ‘How to be a Gardener‘. Before I knew it I had watched the whole series. Alan Titchmarsh’s enthusiasm is so infectious that the minute I finished watching I made a new garden – a lavender patch.
Gardening is as much about problem solving as it is about planting and weeding. Each bit of soil gives signs of what it needs and what plants it will and will not support. The spot I chose for my new lavender patch had remained empty for many years while I observed and learned. It is a tricky spot, very hot and dry, with strong afternoon sun. Even weeds didn’t seem to find it hospitable. There are some large rocks in the center of it, probably arranged decoratively in the past but now tipped over and looking a bit haphazard. They are too heavy to move, so would need to be incorporated in some way. Armed with the knowledge that lavender requires full sun and tolerates poor soil, so long as it is well-drained, and is also fairly drought-tolerant, I started digging.
I opted for two varieties of English Lavender, Munstead and Hidcote Blue, and planted a total of thirty plants. Both are edible or can be used for a variety of crafts. I kept them watered while they were establishing, but after a couple of months left them to the schedule of the rain. They are thriving, and as the plants fill in the rocks look more intentional, a gray accent for the purple blooms.
The most important element of caring for lavender is pruning. It must be cut down after flowering in the summer and again in the late fall. Otherwise, the following spring you are left with a woody, unattractive plant that may not survive long. The pruning is easily done. I simply cut back about 2/3 of the green plant, and by the end of the job I am fully covered in the scent of lavender.