My Favorite Herb
Over the many years that I have gardened in Santa Fe, at the southern tip of the Rocky Mountains, I have become infatuated by lavender , intoxicated by its beauty, its fragrance and entranced by its toughness and adaptability in the landscape.
OK, I know my prose is a little over the top, but I really am very fond of the genus Lavandula. Like the other plants discussed in Michael Polan’s book The Botany of Desire, this ancient Mediterranean herb (the region that includes the birthplace of Roman and Greek cultures) has become inextricably linked with mankind for thousands of years. We propagate it and ensure its survival on the planet and it repays us with its essentials oils that sooth and heal. For me, part of its allure is to continue to enjoy this historic alliance in our gardens and landscapes into the future.
Three new HCG lavender varieties for 2012
Lavandula stoechas (Spanish lavender)
For gardeners in zones 7-10, the Spanish lavenders are superb in ground plants for the herb garden or waterwise landscape. In colder regions (zones 5&6) they are long lived container plants for the summer patio. The showy, winged flower spikes of this Spanish species are distinctly different from the English and French hybrid varieties. It also blooms earlier in the spring.
‘Purple Ribbon’ – a graceful plant breed in Holland, ‘Purple Ribbon’ is a long blooming selection with wonderfully showy flowers and bracts. It’s is also very fragrant and a sturdy garden performer in heat and poor soils.
‘Madrid Blue’ PP#12,573 – this cutting propagated cultivar is a super showy bloomer with eyecatching dark blue flowers and white bracts. Absolutely a “must have” ornamental herb for the mild-winter waterwise garden.
Lavandula x intermedia (French hybrid Lavender)
This hybrid group of lavender have been breed to perfection in France, where thousands of acres are grown commercially for lavender oil and other lavender products. These French hybrids bloom in mid-summer and should be combined with earlier blooming English and Spanish lavenders for an incredibly long season of fragrant flowers.
‘Gros Bleu’ – my favorite variety of this group. More compact that either ‘Grosso’ and ‘Provenance’ , it is a heavy bloomer with intensely fragrant foliage and flowers. The scent is sweet like English lavender with very little camphor in its scent. Here in the high desert, It re-blooms lightly in the fall if summer rains occur In August. The evergreen foliage turns lavender-blue in winter. An outstanding French introduction!