Lavender (Lavandula species)
Lavender is a short-lived herbaceous plant from the mint family that can be used for its fragrance, flowers and also as a culinary herb.
Lavender leaves and flowers have a slightly bitter flavour and can be used in vinegars, relishes, jams, stews, cakes, biscuits and cheese.
Grow lavender in a sunny spot, with well-drained soil. Do not over-water lavender and add lime to help improve the soil. Prune regularly to encourage growth. Growing lavender near vegetables and wallflowers can keep pests away and promote the growth of the surrounding plants.
Lavender was one of the holy herbs used in the biblical temple and its aromatic oil was claimed to have magical powers, as a treatment for baldness, fainting fits, drunkenness, infertility and to preserve chastity. Lavender essential oil was used in hospitals during World War 1.
Lavender, including its leaves, flowers and oils is known to have a calming effect. Lavender infusions are believed to soothe insect bites, burns and headaches and aid in sleep and relaxation. Use oil externally on burns, bruises, sprains, cuts, aching muscles, sore joints and on the chest to clear congestion.
To calm children at bedtime, use a little lavender in their bath to soothe and promote sleep.
It is said that chewing lavender leaves can help stop hiccups.
Facts About Lavender
Rub lavender oil or crushed leaves of lavender onto your body to keep flies and mosquitoes away. You can also use lavender oil to help clear head lice.
How do I dry lavender flowers for pot-pourri?
Lavender flowers are best picked in the morning after the dew has dried. Hang in small bunches in a shaded breezy area until dry. Use in pot-pourri, sleep pillows and other crafts.
How can I make my own lavender oil?
Place 1 cup of almond or sunflower oil into a glass jar and add a handful of fresh lavender flowers. Cover with a loose lid and place in a warm spot for 3 days, shaking daily. Drain out flavours and replace with new flowers. Repeat process until oil is smells beautiful, strain and store in a screw-top bottle.