Friday, July 18, 2014

Munstead Lavender

Munstead Lavender

Botanical Name: Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’
Flowers: Blue in color, blooming late spring through summer
Leaves: grayish/green, narrow in form
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Size: (H x W) 20” x 18”
Fragrance: sweet, released with touch
Attracts: Butterflies, bees
Tolerant of: Heat, bunnies, deer, drought, dry/shallow/rocky soil, air pollution, repels mosquitos
Issues: Leaf spot and root rot

Munstead Lavender is named after the home of Gertrude Jeckyll. Gertrude Jeckyll was a famous garden designer and horticulturist, known for her many garden designs of the early 1900s, in which she collaborated with the English architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens.

The Munstead lavender is a great plant to use in the Boise area due to the cultivar’s toleration of heat and drought. It excels in dry, shallow, and rocky soil and is resistant to deer and bunny rabbits. The Munstead lavender flowers early, with a blue hue, and continues to bloom from late spring throughout summer. Use this plant to naturally help repel mosquitoes, while attracting butterflies and bees to your garden.

Native to the mountainous region of the Western Mediterranean, place the Munstead lavender plant in an area with full sun and remember the plant needs little water to survive. If watered too much, it will suffer from root rot. The plant’s leaves are grayish green in color and narrow in form. The blooms are tight and loaded with a sweet fragrance, which is released with touch. To promote a continuous bloom, remove faded flowers throughout the season. In early spring, trim back for a surge of new growth in the upcoming growing season.

 Not only is the Munstead lavender a beautiful and water wise addition to your garden, it has several traditional uses. In ancient times lavender was used for the process of mummification. It was worn as a perfume by the Egyptians and Arabs. The Greeks and Romans bathed in lavender water, giving the plant its botanical name. Lavo means to wash, while Angustifolia means narrow leaf. Lavender oil is the most popular essential oil in the United States, aiding in relaxation and tranquility. It is also popular for its disinfection properties; it is also used as an herbal supplement for stress, insomnia, depression, indigestion and headache treatments and relief. To make lavender into oil, distill it by steam.

For current uses, experiment using your Munstead lavender plants for cooking, potpourris, fresh bouquets, teas, soaps and candles. To use Munstead lavender in cooking, pick when bloom has just opened, use only the flower petals. Lavender can adorn both sweet and savory dishes, but remember when cooking, that lavender is a strong herb, and a little goes a long way. If too much lavender is used, it will turn a dish or baked item very bitter. For use in soaps, shampoos, bouquets, potpourri, add either dry or fresh lavender, as it will dry with time. For a strong scent, dry lavender is best as lavender’s potency increases with drying. For a simple, yet beautiful gift, wrap a bouquet of lavender with a purple ribbon and give to your friends. 

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