Lavendual dentata or ‘French Lavender’ is a spreading shrub to 1m tall and 1.5m wide. Its leaves are dark green, straight, and about 4cm long. Its flowers are fragranced, purple in colour, and are borne on spikes which are produced in mid and late summer. So if you plant it now you should have flowers in February/March. Lavenders do well in dry conditions, like good drainage and good air circulation in more humid parts of Australia although they wont grow in the tropics. We chose French Lavender because other lavenders can be weedy in parts of Australia.
Lavender is an ‘old world’ plant with herbal properties and is described in the bible. The name is related to the latin – ‘lavare‘: to wash – and lavender has many bathroom and domestic uses. Keeping small posies in the house is said to repel insects while keeping some by your bed promotes restful sleep. Infusions of the flowers are said to soothe bites, burns and headaches. A bunch of lavender in the bathroom lasts for ages and sounds like it has a generally restorative effect! They are also great plants for bees.
Some more fanciful suggestions include:
- planting Lavender for luck,
- faeries hang out near lavender bushes, and
- lavender will cure insanity and the plague
Many old farms have a lavender bush by the gate and you will often see these in suburban streets as well; I always take a flower spike and pop it into my pocket as I pass. A lavender bush makes a well behaved, fragrant and useful addition to the garden. It also makes quite a good potted plant on a deck or balcony.