I’m often asked if I have a favourite lavender plant. There is a rather bewildering range – the traditional and popular “English” lavenders in colours from white (Arctic Snow), purple (Hidcote, Imperial Gem, Elizabeth), pink (Rosea, Miss Katherine) to lilac (Melissa Lilac) and then to the pretty “French” lavenders, in too many variations to name. And then there are the lavenders that don’t really look like lavenders – the ptereostoechas types that are at home in the arid, rocky soil of the Canary Islands. In all there are 50 species of lavender with only 10 or so likely to be available in England.
But If I had to pick one that you can buy in the UK, and will thrive with a bit of care, then I’d go for Lavender Dentata – fringed, toothed lavender. Here in Jersey, ours have flowers 365 days of the year. Many more in the summer but still some in the winter. The flowers are gorgeous atop long, strong stems. The plants are evergreen with interesting foliage, and they have
a strong scent not quite like the traditional lavender smell but more resinous.
Dentata is easy to look after. A good haircut in August when it gets a bit unrulely will bring it back to shape, and it doesn’t mind a poor soil and dry conditions (the perfect hosepipe ban plant!). Like most lavenders they do need a free draining soil, so if you are on heavy clay lavender is perhaps not the best type of plant to go for.
When your original plant gets a bit woody it’s easy to take cuttings and produce more of them. In terms of hardiness it isn’t quite as tough as the “English” lavenders but with a sheltered sunny position should do OK, for a good many years.
If you have a favourite lavender plant, do let us know and why. We would love to hear from you. For general advice on gardening with lavender check out our looking after lavenders page.