Thursday, July 9, 2009


When asked, "Which are your favorite herbs?", the ones which immediately come to mind are basil, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, garlic, cumin, tarragon, cayenne... and one which can sometimes be forgotten, but high on our list, is lavender, and not just any lavender, but English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia.

There is Spanish lavender, French lavender, Yellow lavender, something called Lavandins... all that come in various shades and colors and an array of heights, but L. angustifolia 'Hidcote' is overall number one in my book. Compact, highly fragrant, and brilliant dark purple flowers make this a special part of our garden.

Full sun and good drainage are requirements, and after it blooms cut back the spent blossoms... not much to satisfy in a plant which offers so much joy.

Placement along a border or at the edge of a path allows the wonderful scent to permeate the air as you brush past it as you stroll along in the garden.

Many enjoy drying the flowers and using them in arrangements, potpourris, or as decorative upside down bundles hanging in a country kitchen. Honey, aromatherapy oils, lotions and soaps all come to mind, but we offer a few of our favorite uses.

I'd rather be in the garden, but if you must work inside, try crumbling a few dried flowers on the carpeting and vacuuming over them so you enjoy a most pleasant scent as you work your way throughout the house.

Consider a simple recipe sometime this summer: Blanche some fresh green beans on high heat in boiling water for just a few minutes. Drain, dry, and then quickly saute the beans in a little olive oil, blanched almond slivers, and freshly ground pepper for a few moments longer. (We like a little diced garlic too.) Sprinkle just a few fresh lavender blossoms over the green beans, combine gently and quickly and salt with some kosher salt. What are you waiting for? Serve.