Friday, October 26, 2012

Facts, Fun, Fantasy: The Upside-Down Garden

Upside-Down Garden.

In Journey of Awakening, Sara is lying in bed at an old healer's house. She stares up at the herbs drying from the rafters and thinks it looks like an upside-down garden. I thought from time to time, it would be fun to discuss some of the ways she, and I, use herbs in day-to-day life. Today! Lavender

Lavender is one of those plants that grows really well where I live...and I’ve managed to kill every time I’ve planted it. Why? Because it doesn’t need a lot of care and I over water or fertilize... and yeah. Dead lavender. 

But did I mention I love it? So I’m trying one more time. This time, I’m putting it in a container so I can better control the water and it won’t get fertilized with the roses and trees.

So why do I love it so much? Lavender is beautiful with spiky purple flowers and grey-green, very fragrant leaves. But it's also useful!

The use of lavender dates back thousands of years and is synonymous, in some circles, with stress relief. Its name derives from the Latin word Lavare, (to wash) and has antiseptic properties. During WW2, lavender was used not only to dress wounds but to disinfect floors.

The leaves and flowers are often used in potpourri but lavender leaves are also an insect repellent, and I read not too long ago, about a woman who used tied bunches of lavender to stop algae from growing in her bird bath.

Healers and herbalists have used lavender as an antispasmodic, a diuretic, a sleep tonic and as a remedy against headaches. I can attest to its effectiveness in two ways: I‘ve always been a bit of an insomniac and keep a vial of lavender spray by my bed to help me relax. Lavender oil is also the prime ingredient in a lotion I rub on my temples when I have a headache. It seems almost miraculous to me how fast it works.
Lavender is also a culinary herb, which shouldn’t be surprising since it’s a member of the mint family. 

Now for the gardening side:
There are several types of lavender: Spanish, French and English are the most common. (If you really want the Latin names, I can put them in the comments if you like) English lavender has the sweetest fragrance and is most commonly used in cooking. French or Spanish lavender is better for crafts and dried arrangements.

If you grow lavender, and I recommend you do, make sure it has sandy, well-drained soil and lots of sun. If you have clay soil, which is one of my problems, add a considerable amount of sand; a raised bed helps too. Or a pot. Definitely trying a pot this time.

Disclaimer: Dried herbs are always more potent than fresh and never use herbs from florists or nurseries as it could have been treated with pesticides. 

Have you used lavender? Do you grow it?

No comments:

Post a Comment