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> Lavender Frenzy, a tribute to a deserving herb
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ghost 
Posted: 31-Jan-2006, 12:30 PM
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Maybe it's because I'm dreaming of Spring lately. I love herbs!

Lavandula is a genus of about thirty species, each with its own roster of varieties. It shares a family with many other square stemmed herbs such as mint, sage, horehound, thyme, and marjoram. Lavender plants prefer well-drained to dry soil, neutral to slightly alkaline(pH of 6.5 to 8.2), in an open location that receives six to eight hours of sunlight a day. In its native Provence, France, lavender is found growing right out of the limestone rock. This fact leads some gardeners to try mulching his lavender plants with oyster shells.

Pruning encourages bushy growth. Depending on the location, two or more harvests per season are common. Lavender thrives in direct sunlight, well-drained soil, and low humidity(too much rain and humidity can cause root-rot and mildew or fungus on foliage). Propagate from cuttings or strong new growth in summer or fall, and once rooted, plant them out after threat of frost has past.

Dry lavender by hanging the stems(flowers and leaves attached) in a dark, warm dry room with good air circulation. Once dry, strip the leaves and flowers from the stems and store them in a dark glass jar in a cool, dark, dry location.

Lavender plants can survive ten to twelve years before going woody and dying from the centre outward.
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ghost 
Posted: 31-Jan-2006, 01:03 PM
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Popular plants at a glance....

From bloom to fragrance to foliage, form, and colour, lavenders provide stunning features for an entire range of formal to friendly gardens. Here are four of the most popular lavender species.

English Lavender(Lavandula Angustifolia; formerly Lavandula Officinalis)

Angustifolia means "narrow leaved", and these lavenders are sweetly scented, considered the finest sources for essential oil, and one of the most resistant to cold. Hardy to Zone 5 and able to withstand -28C/-20F, L. angustifolia is the species found most often in North American gardens. Many varieties form small, dense shrubs with grayish foliage and are ideal for low hedges(dwarf L. Munstead). English Lavenders are recommended for culinary use in iced and baked desserts, oils, sauces, and dressings. Some good cultivars include 'Mitchem Grey', 'Loddon Blue', and 'Munstead' which grows to one and half feet, with deep lavender blue flowers.
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Brief History:
This aromatic herb was known by the ancient Greeks as Nardus, taken from Naarda a city of Syria; it was also commonly called Nard.

During Roman times the blossoms were sold for 100 denarii per pound, which was about the same as months wage for a farm labourer or 50 haircuts for the local barber. The Romans used lavender in their bath water and along with many other herbs, they indroduced it to Britain.

During the times of the plague the glove makers of Grasse would scent their leathers with lavender oil and many seemed to stay plague free. This story could have some validity as the plague was transmitted by fleas and lavender is known to repel them.
History
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French Lavender(Lavandula Dentata)

The Latin word dentate, from which flows the English word "dentures", means toothed. The tender French Lavender's leaves have a delicate lacy edging and a slightly grey mossy texture.(The plant that North Americans call French lavender should not be confused with the lavender cultivated in France mainly for its oil-- the lavandins.)

The pungent, medicinal aroma of French lavender's flower bracts and leaves keeps it out of the kitchen except for the most robust of dishes, but makes it perfect for soaps and other essential oil applications. French lavender is hardy to zone 9.

L. dentata var. candicans is a small, perfect example of French lavender. It lends itself very nicely to container growing due to its size and drought resistance.
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Spanish Lavender(Lavandula stoechas)

Known and used throughout history, the Spanish lavenders are popular ornamentals with unusual barrel-shaped flowers topped by long, feathery wisps. Lavenders in this species grow 12 to 18 inches tall and hardy to zone 7b. Their strong, camphorlike scent intensifies on drying. Widely distilled and used for medicine in the Middle Ages, L. stoechas lavenders are now used mainly for dried arrangements and other crafts.

L. stoechas subsp. pedunculata 'Otto's Quest' has a topnotch of bracts that grow up to 3/4 inch in length and sit atop a fat, stubby flower head. This decorative Spanish lavender offers a showy profile much like that of a pineapple. Even the orange-gold dots of pollen arranged in neat rows add to the pineapple appearance.
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Spike Lavender(Lavandula latifolia)

Indigenous to the southern regions of France, Portugal, Spain, and the Alps, the stem of pike lavender differ from most lavenders in that they branch to form arms resembling candelabras. This feature makes them useful as a vertical accent plant in the garden. Spike lavender has broad leaves and three-stemmed flower spikes. It is hardy to zone 7 and reaches up to two feet.
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ghost 
Posted: 31-Jan-2006, 01:12 PM
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The Lavandins

Although all lavenders belong to the genus Lavandula, some have been grouped into a category known as lavandin. These plants are all hybrids of L. angustifolia and are used almost exclusively in the modern-day French lavender-oil industry because of their high quality oil. Like other lavender hybrids and subspecies, lavandins are propagated by cuttings.
Lavandula xintermedia 'Grosso' is a very popular lavandin in both France and the United states. 'Grosso' has the distinctive gray tinged foliage and deep violet to purple blooms. Robust, tall, and easily harvested, 'Grosso' was discovered in the early 1970s. The oil of this fragrant lavandin is used primarily for soaps and perfumes, and the sprigs are excellent for drying and may be used for culinary purposes.


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ghost 
Posted: 31-Jan-2006, 01:26 PM
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Lavender at home


Researchers have found that essential oil from English lavender(L.angustifolia) contains the active ingredient linalool, which may be the key ingredient that causes smooth muscle tissue to relax, ultimately relieving tension headaches, insomnia, muscle spasms, and neuralgia.

Lavender's effects can be enjoyed in many ways, you can make many of these products yourself. Remember that essential oils are highly concentrated and must be diluted in a carrier oil before being applied directly to the skin.

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Atomizer:

Fill a spray bottle halfway with isopropyl alcohol. Add 25 to 30 drops of lavender essential oil, then top it off with distilled water. Shake well to mix. Spray in the air throughout your house, in hotel rooms, or in the car to purify the air.
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Lavender clothing rinse:

In a large pot, bring 6 to 8 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup lavender leaves, stems, and flowers and 1 teaspoon orris root powder. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Next, strain the infused water into a large jar. Add all of the lavender water to the final rinse cycle in your washing machine. Alternatively, simple add 8 to 10 drops lavender essential oil directly to the final rinse water taking care that it blends with the rinse water before coming into contact with clothing.
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Rindy 
Posted: 04-Feb-2006, 05:54 PM
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Thanks for this information Eventide.. I love the smell of lavender.. thumbs_up.gif

Slainte smile.gif
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ghost 
Posted: 07-Feb-2006, 02:37 PM
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Glad you did Luv. I welcome any new additions. It's all good for the common knowledge.
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ShadowDarkFyre 
Posted: 16-Mar-2006, 11:36 AM
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Lavendar has to be one of my favorite flowers/herbs. I've been wanting to make a point of going up to Lummi Island in Washington State to peruse their lavender farms...


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jumbleberry_pie 
Posted: 17-Apr-2006, 12:14 PM
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Thanks for the growing tips! I've never had much luck with it in the past--probably because of the soil conditions and the high humidity here. So I just planted some english lavender in a drier part my garden yesterday. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!


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ShadowDarkFyre 
Posted: 18-Apr-2006, 05:42 PM
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I'll cross mine for you, as well.

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Redbud 
Posted: 20-Apr-2006, 02:27 PM
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I love lavender, & find it almost carefree to grow. Unfortunately, my two plants died off over the winter. I'm not sure why, but maybe it was their time. sad.gif

I'll be replacing them, as I just can't do without some wonderful lavender!

I love lavender oil too. We have lots of mosquitos, & if the neat oil is applied on the bite before it is scratched, it will make the bite disappear by the next day. I also put it on either side of my pillow at night to ensure peaceful sleep. Lovely stuff.

One note: some ppl have told me that the dislike the smell of the lavender oil. Having gotten a bottle of less than pure oil, I would suspect that they also got a hold of adulterated oil (unfortunately rather common with lavender). Always sniff the oil before purchase. If you don't like the smell, don't buy it (it won't work as well & you'll wind up not using it anyway).

Slainte,
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ShadowDarkFyre 
Posted: 19-Jun-2006, 05:08 PM
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thanks for the tip...


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stoirmeil 
Posted: 20-Jun-2006, 08:56 AM
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Love the stuff. So much cleaner and airier in the hot weather than rose or jasmine or honeysuckle. . . Don't forget you can use it in small amounts in cooking, as in the famous Herbes de Provence mixture.

1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon summer savory
1 tablespoon thyme
1 crushed bay leaf
1 teaspoon lavender
1 teaspoon fennel

Here's a recipe for an herbed bread made with it:
Herbes de Provence Bread

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp. dry yeast
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. Herbes de Provence
7 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg white; lightly beaten

Stir the first five ingredients together to dissolve the yeast, sugar and salt. Stir in the flour. Knead 10 minutes. Let rise, covered, until doubled in bulk. Punch down; knead three or four times to remove air, then divide in four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a long loaf and place in a well greased French bread pan (or form into loaf on a baking sheet) slash the top. Brush the loaves with the egg white and let rise until doubled. Bake 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 400F, then reduce the heat to 350F and bake 20 min. longer, or until the loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove the loaves from the pans and cool on racks.


Nice for a lavendar garden lunch, eh? with a few mellow cheeses and a cool salad and some white wine, and strawberries.

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ShadowDarkFyre 
Posted: 21-Jun-2006, 10:13 AM
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Nice recipe... Will have to try it out...

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Rindy 
Posted: 07-Jul-2006, 08:56 AM
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Great recipe.... thanks for posting that. My lavender that I planted is doing fine. It is starting to grow now.. I must get out there and weed them today, and make sure I pinch a few leaves for the aroma....aaaahhhhh...

Slainte smile.gif
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Arianrhod 
Posted: 18-Jul-2006, 05:19 PM
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I grow several types of Lavender
With great sucess!

It is all about picking the right plant
For your zone, and conditions..

Here is an excellent site,
That will help you choose both.

http://gardening.about.com/od/perennials/a.../a/Lavender.htm

There are so many lovley ways to share it with friends as well..

I found many ideas here..

http://store.french-food.biz/lavbouqbun.html

The wands are a personal favorite of mine smile.gif

Enjoy
Ari


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