Common name: Lavender
These are among the best known of all shrubs, and are particularly valued for their aromatic foliage and.
Among the most popular is the old English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), with pale blue flowers on long stems. Originating from Mediterranean regions, it has been grown in the UK since the middle of the 16th century There is also a white form listed as ‘Alba’, and a whole host of varieties, mostly hybrids. Among these is the ever-popular ‘Hidcote’ (AGM), with violet flowers growing to 45cm (18in). The pink-flowered ‘Hidcote Pink’ is also worth considering.
One to look for, with a lower growing habit, is ‘Nana Alba’. Ideal for edging, it grows to just 30cm (12in). For a change try ‘Rosea’, its pink blooms reaching 45cm (18in). ‘Twickel Purple’ (AGM) is a compact form with broad leaves and blue flowers.
In recent years French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) (AGM) has become very popular. This is different in that its dark purple blooms are borne in dense, congested heads topped by distinctive terminal bracts. It has been grown here for a great many years and requires a warm, dry, sunny spot.
Soil type Well-drained, humus-richis suitable.
Planting Choose a sunny spot, and plant in either autumn or spring. If planting a lavender ‘hedge’, set the plants 22-30cm (9—12in) apart.
Pruning Remove dead flowers and stalks after flowering has finished; lightly trim in late summer.
In early spring trim back old, straggly plants to promote new bushy growth from the base. This is also the time to trim established hedges into shape.
Propagation Semi-ripe cuttings taken with a heel, in mid-summer.
Pests and diseases Froghoppers can inhabit the plants. With their familiar protective ‘cuckoo spit’ coating, they can spoil the appearance of the plant Pick them off or spray with insecticide.