Autumn sees the end of the traditional summer flowers including one of the stalwarts of the flower patch – lavender. We grow both French and English lavender in the Not So Secret Garden and it’s all well used in bouquets, wedding buttonholes and wreaths. We use it fresh but also dry some to use all year round.
Each lavender requires a slightly different maintenance regime but essentially, once it’s established in well-drained soil in a sunny spot, it more-or-less looks after itself. At this time of year any flower heads which have not been picked need to be cut down and consigned to the compost heap.
Generally speaking you prune English lavender by cutting it back by two thirds in late summer. The new shoots which appear at the base of the bush will then have enough time to grow and harden up before winter comes. Tidying the lavender before the winter helps it keep its shape, and, as we are creating a beautiful garden as well as a flower farm, it’s important that we keep on top of these tasks. For gardeners who don’t wish to harvest the lavender flowers, if you chop your plants again in April it will delay flowering time until after the first flush of roses, giving your garden interest for longer.
Taking softwood or semi-ripe cuttings from young plants in early summer and hardwood cuttings from new growth after flowering in late autumn is quite straightforward. That’s something for us to try next year, although we have been planting more lavender to extend the patch.
It’s been glorious this year despite the lack of a long, hot summer. Lavender truly is a wonder plant with a rich history of uses over time in medicine, cosmetics and floristry as well as a stalwart of the landscaped garden. It’s a great companion plant for roses and who wouldn’t want a lavender hedge keeping the bees happy and supplying the florists at Young Blooms with plenty of beautifully scented flower heads to add to gorgeous summer bouquets.