Lavender is one of my favorite plants. The blossoms smell deliciously, attracting bees and butterflies throughout the summer. Thus it fills gaps between roses and other bright flowers, underlining their beauty. Even in winter the silvery leaves of the small bushes enlighten the otherwise drab and dull garden. The essential oils it contains are said to keep aphids off roses, however the aphids in my garden unfortunately don’t believe in this tale. To keep those little (plant) bloodsuckers under control, I have to rely on ladybirds.
Lavender needs to be cut regularly, otherwise only the bare wooden branches will remain with hardly any flowers. Usually I cut the plants twice a year, first in early spring when there is no danger of hard frosts anymore, and second in midsummer, after the first bloom has worn off. To encourage fresh growth, I cut as far into the wood as possible, however there should always be at least one fresh bud. If you cut too deeply, the branch may die off, which can eventually lead to the end of the complete plant. In order to grow fresh plants, I simply stick the cut-off stubs into a bit of moist soil and forget about them until they have grown roots. If the weather is not too dry, about half of these cutlings make it. Actually I enjoy pruning lavender. The scent sticks on hands and arms for quite some time, and you don’t really want to lose it by taking a shower ….
In fact, there is another — easy — way of saving some of the scent for all the long lavenderless months: drying. For this I cut the buds (late morning is the best time), bind them together, hang them up and let them dry in an airy place. These can be used in dried flowers bouquets, for decorating greeting cards or presents or for little lavender pillows that are placed in the wardrobe to give a fresh scent to your clothes.