A collection of some great images. EditRead More
The lavenders (Lavandula) are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. These species are native to the mountainous zones of the Mediterranean, but widely distributed throughout Southern Europe, Australia and The United States today. The plant is often grown to produce leaves and flowers to dry for sachets and potpourri, and oils for sleep aromatherapy, but it is also an attractive garden plant with vibrant purple flowers appearing in late spring to early summer.
Lavender is a shrubby plant indigenous to the mountainous regions of the countries bordering the western half of the Mediterranean, and cultivated extensively for its aromatic flowers in various parts of France, in Italy and in England and even as far north as Norway. The fragrant oil to which the odor of Lavender flowers is due is a valuable article of commerce, much used in perfumery, and to a lesser extent in medicine. The fine aromatic smell is found in all parts of the shrub, but the essential oil is only produced from the flowers and flower-stalks.
English lavender, the common narrow-leaved variety, grows 1 to 3 feet high (in gardens, occasionally somewhat taller), with a short, but irregular, crooked, much-branched stem, covered with a yellowish-grey bark, which comes off in flakes, and very numerous, erect, straight, broom-like, slender, bluntly-quadrangular branches, finely pubescent, with stellate hairs. The leaves are opposite, sessile, entire, linear, blunt; when young, white with dense stellate hairs on both surfaces; their margins strongly revolute; when full grown, 1 1/2 inch long, green with scattered hairs above, smoothly or finely downy beneath, and the margins only slightly revolute. The flowers are produced in terminating, blunt spikes from the young shoots, on long stems. The spikes are composed of whorls or rings of flowers, each composed of from six to ten flowers, the lower whorls more distant from one another. The flowers themselves are very shortly stalked, three to five together in the axils of rhomboidal, brown, thin, dry bracts. The calyx is tubular and ribbed, with thirteen veins, purple-grey in colour, five-toothed (one tooth being longer than the others) and hairy; shining oil glands amongst the hairs are visible with a lens. The majority of the oil yielded by the flowers is contained in the glands on the calyx. The two-lipped corolla is of a beautiful bluish-violet colour.
In order for it to grow well, lavender has three basic growing requirements – very good drainage, relatively poor soil, and lots of sun.
Harvesting and drying lavender is simple – simply snip off the stems just before the flowers open and when you’ve gathered enough for your needs, tie the stems together and hang them up to dry somewhere sheltered. After a few weeks the flowers will have dried fully, and can be shaken gently from the stems into a container.
The name “lavender” is derived from the Latin lavare, meaning, “to wash”. Greeks and Romans perfumed their bathwater with lavender, burned lavender incense to appease their wrathful gods.
Recorded history goes back as far as 2,500 years to Egyptian uses in the mummification process. Ancient Greeks called this plant “Nard” or “Nardus” named after the Syrian city of Naarda and it appears in the Bible in Song of Solomon. So valued was this beautifully fragrant purple flower that Romans charged 100 denari per pound, the equivalent of a months wages mostly for the purposes of adding to baths for fragrance.
The current common name Lavender is a derivation of the Latin, lavare, meaning, to wash. In modern times it is certainly still used as a fragrance for perfumes, soaps and other toiletries as well as a natural remedy.
The oils in this plant produce numerous fragrance notes, and it is used in aromatherapy widely for stress, sleep, and other methods to support relaxation. Lavender oil and burn treatment have a long history.