The name comes from the Latin verb meaning 'to wash.' Lavender was a favorite ingredient in herbal baths of Greeks and Romans. During the Middle Ages, it was considered an herb of love. Because of its clean, fresh scent and insect-repellent properties, it was a popular strewing herb. It also was an ingredient in smelling salts and was used to disinfect wounds during war time.
The bushy, branching shrub has mature stems that become dense and woody. The smooth-edged silver-gray leaves are opposite, lanceolate, somewhat hairy, and up to 2 inches long. The small lavender-purple flowers are in whorls of six to ten flowers, forming terminal spikes 6 to 8 inches long. The fruit is comprised of four shiny gray-brown nutlets.
Aromatic, cosmetic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.
The dried flowers scent sachets, potpourris, and decorative pillows. The aromatic oil is used in toilet water, cologne, and perfume. Lavender also is used in bath products and stimulating, cleansing facial steams. It is said to repel mosquitoes. It can flavor vinegars and jellies. Decorative uses include floral arrangements, wreaths, and wands. Lavender is said to have some medicinal qualities.
Our lavender was attractive planted in groups. About half of the plants that we started from seed in the garden produced flower spikes the first year. The flowers were very fragrant, and the grayish foliage provided a nice contrast against the deeper greens and purple foliage of plants such as purple ruffles basil.