Lavender is one of our greatest garden plants. It combines soothing color and fragrance with durability, structure and texture into a perfect package. Here in the cold, arid high desert of New Mexico I use it in practically every planting and grow at least 20 cultivars of cold hardy types at High Country Gardens. I enjoy the luxury of having plenty from which to choose. Within each species there are numerous varieties, each have beautiful variations in the shape, color and size of the flower spikes, color of the foliage and the shape and configuration of the plant itself.
In my USDA Zone 6 climate, I need good cold hardiness and always make it a point to plant both English (angustifolia)
and French Hybrids (x Intermedia) to extend the season of color to stretch from late spring into late summer.
Some of my current favorite Lavender varieties include; ‘Buena Vista’, an English lavender that blooms twice a season and slender, strongly bi-colored flower spikes ‘Thumbelina Leigh’, a ridiculously floriferous dwarf variety and possibly one of the best ornamental
English lavenders ever ‘Silver Frost’, the fabulous angustifolia/lanata hybrid with silver foliage, extreme heat tolerance and summer-long flowering ‘Grosso’, the giant growing king of the French hybrids with husky, dark flower spikes ‘Gros Bleu’, a new semi-dwarf French hybrid with a fine textured appearance and fabulous, deep lavender-blue flower spikes.
And a few of my favorite Lavender companions include Sundrops (Calylophus serulatus), Pineleaf Beardtongue (Penstemon pinifolius), Shrubby Pink Lamb’s Ear (Stachys inflata), Thrift Leaf Perky Sue (Hymenoxys scaposa). Actually, it seems there is hardly a plant combination that doesn’t look great with Lavender in it.
Lavender is also a wonder repellent to keep deer and rabbits from nibbling their neighboring plants. Many rose gardeners always plant Lavender under each rose. I know an expert landscaper in deer-plagued Spokane, WA who plants several lavender plants alongside all of her Clematis vines. Beauty and functionality; who can quarrel with that!