Lavender Love

Lavender bee

Lavender bee

What a great hardy and useful plant the humble Lavender shrub is. In season now many species of the Genus Lavendula are flowering profusely and Lavender farms around the country are madly harvesting blooms for the ever popular Lavender oils and a multitude of lavender products. Lavender oil is the most widely used essential oil around the world. The Lavender Industry in Australia was first established by the Bridestowe estate in Tasmania back in 1921 and is still operating today. I visited this farm many years ago and it was an incredible view to see the mounds of compact shrubs row after row all in a purple haze of blooms down acres of rolling hills. Tasmania has always proudly lead the way in Lavender products and I must admit during my visit I had the pleasure of tasting lavender infused cheese and I was hooked on the use of Lavender for culinary delights not just medicinal purposes or landscaping appeal.
Summer is the time for the good old robust English Lavender, Lavendula angustifolia which flowers profusely in January and is one of the hardiest plants in the garden. They are tough, water wise and really don’t care how poor the soil conditions are. They love a position that’s hot and dry and a Lavender plant not placed in such a position will often suffer from fungal problems and not produce the flowers it should. Trimming back your Lavender after flowering once a year is all the maintenance you need to undertake. English lavender is a great addition to the garden growing to around 75cm. Plant Growers Australia have a signature breeding program producing a collection of plants call, Lavender Lace. The collection includes Lavender Lace, Winter Lace and Violet Lace which begin flowering at the start of winter and really bring the winter garden to life with rich colours and large wing presentations on each floral stem. Plant your Lavenders near the vegetable garden as they are worth their weight in gold when it comes to attracting pollinators for your fruit and vegetables. If you’re after a small variety of Lavender for a garden path, mini border or pots then you can’t look past the Lavender ‘Hidcote’. The shrub is a tight compact bun shape with small but very dark purple blooms. Dried or fresh they are beautiful flowers to pick. Lavenders are evergreen, meaning you can enjoy the aromatic leaves all year round. The flowers can be used fresh or dried in cooking to flavour cakes, jams, teas and more. There is something for everyone. If you don’t like the purple flowers you can also get white or pink to enhance your garden. Having a combination of English, French and Italian lavenders planted together has great landscaping appeal. It’s a very interesting feature when you see the difference in the floral structure between the varieties and it means the flowering times are staggered throughout the year so you can relax and enjoy your Lavender for longer. I think i shall go now nad make a batch of Lavender scones, i just made myself hungary for some devonshire tea just talking about this delightful plant of so many uses.

Romance is alive in a Cottage Garden

David Austin Roses

Well it’s been awhile since my last digging in the dirt. It’s a new year and I have a new garden with plenty of plans ahead. My challenge will be how to fit everything I love into a smallish space. The cottage garden theme will be my goal for the backyard which I have not done for many years leaning towards a drought hardy sustainable garden of recent times. In my previous garden I had fallen in love with Australian Natives and the birds that this style of garden attracts. Now living in a lovely old 1930’s home I would like to marry the garden up with the style of the house that was intended. Creating a garden to suit a house adds value to the property. So it’s off to buy glorious David Austin Roses and romantic soft perennials. My two favourite David Austin roses are ‘Wife of Bath’ and ‘Moth’. These are delightful full bodied and full fragranced floribunda roses. Soft pastels in colour and a long season of flowers. Seaside daisy, ‘Erigeron’ makes a lovely border plant alongside the mauve flowers of the cut leaf daisy, Brachyscome multifida. Ill be adding some Chocolate cosmos which is a lovely 30-40cm high soft perennial with the scent of chocolate in its dark brown daisy like flowers. It goes well with the common butterfly bush ‘Gaura lindheimeri’. Its little butterfly shaped flowers bopping away in the breeze are so cute. There doesn’t need to be any formal lines just pop various plants in spaces to fill gaps and allow enough space between places to almost touch but not over crowd. Good ventilation allows moisture penetration and air circulation to avoid unwelcome fungal attacks. Choose a mixture of foliage texture and colour to give an interesting contrast between plant species. Cottages plants can be either shade loving or full sun so look at your aspect and make sure your selecting plants that suit your situation. Best to pick plants that love the conditions you plant them in rather than fight a losing battle trying to cope with soil and aspects that are not suitable for your selection. It’s easy to maintain a cottage garden if you love to spend time in your garden as it will give you little jobs every week. As plants dye down or finish flowering those species will enjoy trimming and dead heading of spent flowers to encourage new growth. Thin out plants which self-seed and re-plant into new spots or pot up and give to friends. Every garden has a feature or two and I have placed a new beautiful weeping form of Judas tree in the centre, Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’ or commonly called Lavender twist. If you’re familiar with the delightful Cercis ‘Forest pansy’, you will love Lavender twist. Green heart shaped leaves on twisted branches, magnificent bright pink flowers in a topiary form with a size only reaching 2m x 2m. Perfect for small gardens or large pots and perfect for my cottage garden.