June 13, 2012
One of the most well-known of all the herbs is lavender. It’s one of the most useful herbs, too. From cooking to crafts, lavender can be used in many ways. One of the most common uses of lavender is for sachets. Its signature aroma has freshened linen closets for generations. The stems of lavender are also woven into lavender wands and baskets.
In its native Mediterranean, it is commonly used in cooking. It flavors cookies, sorbets, and jellies in the south of France. In aromatherapy, it is considered a sleep-aid for its calming fragrance. Since it is easily dried, it makes an excellent room freshener. To dry lavender, cut the stems and bind them together with a rubber band; then hang the bunches in a warm, dark, dry room for a couple of weeks.
Lavender is relatively easy to grow here in the Midwest. There are many varieties available that are zone 5 hardy. Its only requirements are lots of sun (at least six hours a day) and well-drained soil. Since lavender is native to the Mediterranean, it prefers a more sandy soil and it doesn’t like to sit in wet soil. I have found that the English lavender varieties (like Munstead and Hidcote) are a bit easier to grow here in zone 5 than the French varieties (like Provence and Grosso). The more tender varieties can be grown in pots and wintered over indoors. For more information, you might want to check out the books Lavender: the Grower’s Guide and Lavender: How to Grow and Use the Fragrant Herb. These and other titles are available at MCPL.
Lee's Summit Branch