ENGLISH LAVENDER (Lavendula augustifolia) is an essential herb with evergreen grey-green foliage in clusters with short spikes of violet-blue flowers. Highly valued as an aromatic in its dried form because it retains its fragrance for a long time, and the essential oils it contains for salves and lotions. The blossoms also make a beautiful edible addition to salads and desserts! Plants grow 18"h x 24-30"w. Perennial in zones 5-10. 50 Seeds.
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: The ancient Romans named it "lavender" which means "to wash" and it makes a delightful addition to the bath water. Lavender has been widely researched for its now established properties as an anti-septic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. Hence its historic use in all manner of external applications. But now come studies that show it also has anti-depressant properties if brewed into a gentle tea.
GROWING TIPS: Lavender is not necessarily the easiest of flowering perennials to start from seed so strict attention to detail and patience is called for. Easier to start in Spring than Fall, you'll want to lay out your seeds in your seed box or pot on the surface of the soil and cover ever so slightly as lavender is light dependant for germination. If you are starting your seeds in the Winter for Spring transplant, start early and provide bottom heat of 70 degrees as well as a grow light. Be sure you do not over water, as lavenders need excellent drainage at all times, but do not let them dry out completely. Give them lots of time to develop roots (1-3 months) before hardening off and transplanting. Though the effort is more than many seed starting projects require, a flat of home grown lavender can save you bundles over nursery stock.
DRYING FOR TEA AND OTHER USES: When we gather herbs for fresh use, we pick early in the morning, when still kissed by dew. But when we gather herbs for drying, we are going to wait until the sun has dried the dew, so that we do not get mildew forming when we dry. Gather small bunches of the healthiest plants and tie at the ends with string with a tail. Then hang in a protected environment. For me, it is from the shutters of my interior kitchen window over my sink. No sunlight at this window but plenty of fresh air as an overhead fan circulates during warmer months. This is ideal. Otherwise, special drying racks work well. The idea is to dry quickly, without sunlight, but plenty of air circulation to keep mildew from forming. Turn if necessary to make sure the bunch dries completely. When dry, crumple the leaves from the stems and store in airtight canisters.