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Lavender is a fragrant addition to summer gardens

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The Elizabethans scattered lavender on the floors to perfume the house, deter insects in the linen closet and mask displeasing odors. It was also sold on the streets of London by vendors who claimed branches of lavender fastened to each wrist could ward off the bubonic plague.

About the same time, lavenders were used in elaborate knot gardens designed to resemble intricate embroidery designs of the day.

Colonists brought lavenders from England to America, where today they are prized more as a garden ornamental than for any medicinal uses.

The right lavender for the right zone

A number of species are cultivated throughout the world but our best performers are English, Spanish, French, and the lavandins (a class of lavender hybrids). However, not all will succeed everywhere in the country.

Munstead, Hidcote, and Croxton’s Wild (which is hardy to Zone 4b) are the best varieties of lavender for overwintering in most of temperate America.

While English lavender (L. angustifolia) is winter-hardy to Zone 5 and comfortable in hot, arid areas of the West, it generally will not tolerate the steaming summers of the Deep South. 

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