Show your lavender some love - and get free Christmas gifts
Lavender - has any plant flourished more this summer? I’ve loved seeing the bees and other pollinators scurry around in a frenzy of activity to get the best of the blooms.
If you want a repeat next year, late August and early September is the time to trim lavenders back. If you don’t, next year’s growth will start at the outer edges of your current plant, meaning in time it will get big, floppy and with a gaping hole at the centre.
How to trim lavenders
Wait until the flowers have gone crispy and brown, then chop back to nearly the base of the green part. If you cut into the woody part - that’s the brown bit nearer the bottom - next year it might not flower. But leaving around 5cm / 2 inches of the green stalks will keep the shape tidy, and give it a good start to put a bit more growth on ahead of any winter frosts. It’ll then maintain a solid shape throughout winter before waking up again in spring.
Wait for a dry day, and for the flowers to turn brownish - that means the pollinators will have had their fill.
Don't chop from the brown woody stem, but about 5cm above them in the green part of the stem.
What can you do with the leftovers?
The best of the scent is likely to have been released, but the stalks and flower heads can be dried. I use an old cutlery tray on top of the boiler - and then I parcel them up and use as firelighters in the winter. You can even give them away as presents wrapped round Christmas gifts or dot them around your home.
Dry out your cuttings before parcelling them up, otherwise they'll go musty and mouldy.
There are a multitude of uses for an old cutlery tray. I use this one as a flower drying container over the boiler in autumn. It doubles up as a soil sieve in spring.
Remember to use something flammable but non-toxic to tie your blooms together - old bits of paper are ideal.
The dried branches contain lavender oil, which is highly flammable, so do take care when lighting them.
Got a dirty garden pond?
I'm told that lavender stalks improve pond aeration and remove surface sludge. I haven't tried it out personally, but if you have and it works, please do tell me - it sounds a great sustainable way of using what's in the garden to improve it.
And if you like lavenders...
It's also a good time of year to plant similar sun loving plants, to help them get established before the winter sets in. So if you like lavenders you'll love the exciting, rarer plants I can recommend for your plot to give it a refresh- just contact me for a free initial chat.
This Editorial Note first appeared in the Basingstoke Observer on 1st September 2022. To read the full article, please click here.