There are hundreds of different varieties of Lavender, each displaying that classic lavender scent, but which of these varieties are commonly available, and which should you choose for your garden?
The most common species of lavender found in UK garden centres is English Lavender or Lavandula Angustifolia. Not only is it well suited to our climate in that it is hardy but Lavandula angustifolia tends to have the highest concentration of aromatic essential oils and so produces a fantastic bold scent. There are a number of varieties of English Lavender commonly available to the UK gardener:
- Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) ‘Hidcote’
This is a bushy dwarf evergreen shrub with narrow, silvery-grey leaves and small deep violet-purple flowers that grow in dense, aromatic spikes of approximately 3-4cm in length. After 2-5 years ‘Hidcote’ can grow to approx 1m high with a 50cm spread. The ideal spot for planting is a sunny, sheltered position is well drained soil.
- Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) ‘Loddon Pink’
If you are looking for a more delicate splash of colour, then ‘Loddon Pink’ may be a good choice. ‘Loddon Pink’ is a compact bushy shrub with narrow greyish leaves and short, fragrant, dusky pink flower spikes in summer. Slightly smaller than ‘Hidcote’, ‘Loddon Pink’ will spread to around 50cm, but grows lower to the ground, ultimately reaching approximately 50cm in height, so could be a good choice for nearer the front of a bed, in a sunny, sheltered and well drained position.
Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) ‘Munstead’
Another classic – the well-known ‘Munstead’ – sometimes called ‘Dwarf Munstead’ because of its compact habit, growing to a medium-sized English lavender size of about 60cm. It flowers in late June and through July and has Violet-blue flowers. Again, The ideal spot for planting is a sunny, sheltered position is well drained soil.
To move away from the English Lavender does not necessarily mean a loss of fragrance, or national identity for that matter, and another type of Lavender that is commonly found in UK garden centres is French Lavender (Lavandula stoechas). French lavenders are increasingly popular as they have a long flowering season and can be quite ‘showy’. Accordingly with its Provence homeland, French Lavender is best in a sunny, sheltered position with well drained soil and they are not as hardy as the English lavenders but they flower all summer long and need little watering. You will find a plenty of different varieties in garden centres but here is one of all-time favourites:
- Lavandula stoechas ‘Rocky Road’
Rocky Road is a gorgeous variety of French lavender with large pinkish-mauve “ears” above darker flower heads, making a very colourful and an eye-catching display. It is ideal for borders and containers and wonderful when mixed with other lavender varieties. Semi-hardy, and grows to 50cm high.
Here, we have only mentioned a few of the types of Lavender plant that you are most likely to find in your local garden centre. However, with Lavender being such a beloved plant, you may well find more, or other, varieties popping up. Or if you are a little more green fingered than the rest of us, then seed catalogues (or their online equivalent) can provide you with a myriad of other varieties to try. So if you are looking for a hardy shrub, to give you good dense foliage, beautiful flowers and a gorgeous scent, then lavender could be just the plant for you.