Lavender fills the early-summer garden with sensory delights: beautiful purple-tone blooms atop foliage that emanates its fresh scent on a sunny afternoon. Every part of the plant is infused with aromatic oil, making this a choice herb to place along pathways or near outdoor seating areas so you can experience the pleasant fragrance. Lavender varieties abound: The darker the flower, the more intense the aroma as well as the flavor in cooking.
Lavender Care Must-Knows
Though it is drought-, heat-, and wind-tolerant, lavender doesn't like poor drainage, waterlogged soil, or high humidity. Raised beds can enhance drainage; surrounding plants with a gravel mulch can help increase heat around roots. After flowering, shear plants back a few inches to encourage bushy new growth and another flush of blooms to develop. Avoid cutting plants back to the ground.
Harvest Tips for Lavender
Gather blossoms when they have just opened. Use individual blooms fresh, discarding the little brown or green caps that hold them to the stems. Or cut entire flower stems to dry for later use. When it comes to culinary uses, usually it's the flowers that are pressed into service in the kitchen, although some recipes from the South of France feature the fragrant leaves.
Pick and dry flowers for seasoning desserts, such as cookies, cakes, and ice cream, or use as an edible garnish on a salad or fresh berries. Lavender blends deliciously with mint and lemon to brew a refreshing tea. Or try blending your own Herbes de Provence seasoning mixture by combining dried lavender blooms with thyme, basil, fennel, and savory. Use this blend to season grilled meats, fish, or stews. Add blooms to vinegar to create a deliciously fragrant and uniquely tinted flavoring.