When you brush against lavender, there is something incredibly lovely about the aromatic, evocative fragrance. Whether in leaf, bud or flower, lavender is such a worthy garden plant. For many months of the year the silvery green foliage is a great foil for any other colour, and gives an evergreen (or ever-grey) structure to the garden. You can clip lavender for a low formal hedge, or let it grow a little larger as a feature. In May we enjoyed the promise of the flower as the buds start to make their presence felt – it’s an exciting time. And now, in June, they start to open. It’s such a pretty colour – cool and relaxing to the eye.
At Wisley we have Lavandula species and cultivars all over the garden. Of them, one of the English lavenders, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ AGM is a definite favourite. This one is a dwarf cultivar, one of the hardier types, and also one of the first to flower – with dense, aromatic spikes of dark violet-purple flowers 3-4cm long. It’s easy to prune, and so never likely to outgrow its welcome.
Its versatility means it’s one of the first things you see when you arrive at Wisley – in the car park – and you’ll find it all over the garden. Take a look at the end of the Top Terrace, in the Herb Garden, sponsored by Witan Investment Trust – where you can admire a huge variety of herbs (more gentle brushing to release the scent required – you could spend all day here), and in the Vegetable Garden. Here, we have a long row of it at the top of the garden. Not only does it look attractive, but it plays an important role in attracting bees and other pollinating insects to make our vegetables even more productive.
This English lavender is the type of plant that would fit with almost anything, given a sunny and dry location. Traditionally planted with roses, you can grow lavender with other herbs, colourful perennials like Sedum, grasses or Agapanthus, or even in a silver-themed bed.
Find out more about it here. And what about trying it as a refreshing drink? With our Herbfest running throughout June and July, you can enjoy a glass of lavender lemonade from Taste of Wisley.