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Common Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

July 21st, 2010 by Jeremy Warner
Over the weekend, we headed down to Connecticut for a barbeque with my sister and her boyfriend.  On the way, we stopped at a lavender "farm" which had been touted by the Boston Globe and some other sources.  This turns out to be a dairy farm (Fort Hill Farm) with extensive gardens propagated by the eccentric but friendly co-owner, Kristin.  She found some old foundations on the property, cleaned them out, and started growing lavender within the sun-soaked confines.  The result was lovely and I don't think I've ever seen so many bees in one place!  Maybe with a host of lavender around, my squash would actually get pollinated!

History: Lavender is a diverse genus, with 39 different species in all.  They are all members of the mint family and originate from the Pyrenees region of northeast Spain.

Growing: Lavender is hardy and is one of the more well known "xeriscape" plants.  This means that they are naturally drought-tolerant and do well in arid regions without much natural water (such as California).  
Harvesting: Once the flowers pop up, they can be clipped off; the main bush lives on.

Eating and Processing: Lavender is eaten in three main forms: 1) as a spice that, once dried, forms a component of the well known herbes de Provence; 2) as part of an herbal tea; 3) as honey, after processing by the bees that love it.  Such honey usually carries the scent of lavender through. 

Health Information: There are a lot of claims for lavender's ability to soothe the nerves and calm the senses, when used as aromatherapy or as an essential oil.  I couldn't find very much about what consuming it as a food might mean.

Sustainability: Excellent potential to replace pieces of the #1 crop in America ("lawn") with appropriate, beautiful, and functional shrubs.

Where to Find: We plan to find some in our yard, very soon (after we plant it...).

Relevant Blog: Discover Lavender


References:
1. Wikipedia
2. Soothed and calmed bee, from Flickr Creative Commons
 
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