Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lavender fields in my front yard

My husband was the first one to see and actually consider buying the house we have today. He took one look at all the woodwork inside and fell in love with it. There was a lot we came to love about the house, and my personal favorite was the lavender that lines our walkway.

When we were still looking at the house, we couldn't figure out what the bushes on the walkway were. At first we thought it was rosemary, but it didn't quite smell right when we snapped off a few pieces to sniff. Finally, the structural engineer we hired to evaluate the house nonchalantly commented that there was a lot of lavender. Aha! Lavender! My husband and I had never seen lavender so big and so woody. It couldn't be a more welcoming way to arrive at our front door. We loved it.

Lavender, like most plants, needs care. With all the hubbub of moving and settling into the house, I left the rows of bushes to their own devices for the first year. I dried some of the flowers and decorated inside with them but that was really it. My mother-in-law cut the bushes back so we could actually use the walk. And then I kept having curious encounters with the neighbors about how they could "help out" with the lavender if I needed. I began to realize that there was something amiss with how the lavender was growing.

Like any good home owner, I sat down to do some research. Here are the few things that I've learned.

1. I have Provence Lavender. This is a type of lavender that will survive the winter and can last up to 20 years if maintained properly. There are 39 types of flowering lavender, according to Wikipedia, so it is important to identify the types that will flourish in your climate.

2. My lavender is misshapen and woody. This comes from not being trimmed back every season. (It is at least 5 years old, so not my fault! Whew!) You have to prune it back for it to maintain a round, bushy shape (think fields of lavender in France). I found a short and excellent video on how to do it called A Guide to Lavender: Pruning Lavender.

3. If the lavender becomes woody, it's time to remove it. Lavender will grow into whatever shape it wants. So right now, my lavender is overgrowing my walkway, making it look wild. And one of the places I am most concerned with the garden looking good is in the front of the house. So it looks like I'm going to have to replace all the lavender!

4. It is drought tolerant and best for full-sun areas with good drainage.

5. Lavender is really good for bees. So before pulling it out to be replaced, I'm going to let the bees have at it for the summer.

For now, my goal is to turn the lavender into cute, fragrant mounds. After a few years, I'd like to start harvesting it and making things like essential oils or lavender ice cream.

If you have experience with lavender, please post a comment or story. Feel free to ask questions.

And don't forget to stop and smell the lavender if you visit me!

No comments:

Post a Comment