Fabulous, Fragrant, Lavender Phenomenal™
Lavender is known as the “Queen of the Herbs.” It has long been cherished for its silvery green foliage, its lovely light purple flowers, and its heavenly scent. With the new Lavender Phenomenal™, more people than ever can enjoy the pleasures of growing this regal herb. It’s more tolerant of heat and humidity in summer as well as extreme cold in winter.
Lavender Phenomenal™ was discovered in 2007 at Peace Tree Farm, the nursery of Lloyd and Candy Traven, in Kintnersville, Pennsylvania. A chance mutation of a popular Lavender variety called ‘Grosso’, it stood out from the rest of the crop by being tidier and more compact. After observing the new plant for a few years, Lloyd was amazed. In his 30 years of growing herbs, he had never seen a Lavender that performed so well and didn’t die out in the middle, like most Lavenders tend to do over time. It bloomed for an extra-long time, too.
Phenomenal™ will transport you to the south of France. Close your eyes on a warm summer day, inhale its delightful scent, and you may picture yourself in Provence, where Lavender carpets the rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Lavender is grown as a field crop there, covering the landscape with purple stripes and filling the air with its fresh yet calming fragrance.
Lavender is harvested for its essential oils, which are used in a wide array of balms and lotions that give soothing relief to sore muscles, bug bites, and minor burns when applied to the skin. The healing power is real. Research has shown that Lavender oil has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and analgesic (painkilling) properties.
Lavender is also used in aromatherapy to treat a variety of ailments—from anxiety to insomnia to headaches. Breathing in that distinctively purifying scent helps sufferers let go and relax. You can harvest and dry bouquets of Phenomenal™ flower spikes and experience the healing power of Lavender aromatherapy for yourself. A jar of Lavender potpourri on the nightstand will perfume the whole room with its fresh and restorative fragrance. In turn, it will make you feel utterly rejuvenated.
Perhaps it’s soap you think of when you hear the word Lavender. After all, Lavender comes from the Latin word lavare—to wash. Lavender makes a wonderful addition to soaps, detergents, and bath oils. If you grow Lavender Phenomenal™, you can collect flower spikes, dry them, and use them in satchels to impart your clothes or linens with that clean herbal scent. Just tie the satchel tightly and toss it in the washer or drier or keep it in your dresser drawer. You can also add a Lavender satchel to a hot bath for a fragrant soak that will calm your nerves and melt your troubles away at the end of a long day.
EAT YOUR LAVENDER
You may not think of Lavender as a culinary herb, but those tiny purple blossoms contain a sweet nectar and they add an unexpected gourmet twist to ordinary recipes. You can strip the flowers of Lavender Phenomenal™, dry them, pulverize them, and mix them with powdered sugar to make Lavender sugar, which is sure to bring delightfully unique flavor and color to cookies, cakes, and ice creams. Alternatively, you can layer flowers spikes in granulated sugar and let the sugar soak up the fragrance and flavor of the blooms. Enliven chamomile or Earl Grey tea with an infusion of dried Lavender blooms or steep some lavender petals in lemonade for a sophisticated, grown-up take on this classic refresher. Lavender blossoms are also sometimes included in that staple of French cooking, the herb medley known as herbes de Provence.
OUR VALUABLE POLLINATORS
Nectar-rich Lavender blooms aren’t just people pleasers, though. They’re a boon for pollinators as well. In Europe, colonies of bees eagerly tend to the Lavender fields and create premium honey from the nectar and pollen that they gather. Bees and butterflies will be attracted to your Lavender Phenomenal™, too, and will flock to it all summer long. It may seem odd to want to attract bees to your yard, but bees are valuable pollinators, and they are in peril and deserve all the help they can get. Having a steady supply of blooms is one of the best things we can do for our six-legged friends. Phenomenal™ will give you a long succession of flowers—particularly if you cut back the spent bloom spikes.
Plant Lavender Phenomenal™ in full sun and in soil that drains quickly. Sandy or gravelly soils are ideal and loamy soils (medium textured) are good, as long as they don’t contain much organic matter. In heavy (clay) soils, you may need to amend with crushed gravel. Planting on a slope so that excess water can run off or planting the root ball a bit higher than the soil line will help prevent moisture from settling in the crown, which can lead to disease. Lavender doesn’t like to be spoiled! A hot, dry, low-fertility environment is what it craves. Too much kindness, in the form of water or fertilizer, can be deadly.
You can trim Lavender Phenomenal™ all summer to shape it as you like or to cut flowers, but avoid any major trimming in the fall. Wait for new growth to emerge in spring before doing any serious pruning.
KEEP IT CLOSE AT HAND
With its neat, rounded habit and beautiful foliage, Lavender Phenomenal™ makes the perfect edging for your landscape beds. You can also grow it as an accent plant in a decorative container. In any case, you’ll want it within easy reach for clipping when the need arises for some Lavender aromatherapy or a pitcher of Lavender lemonade. Its multitude of uses and its dashing good looks will make Phenomenal™ an indispensable part of your landscape.