The top ten facts you need to know
Lavender, an ancient herb, is able to keep pace with the best of modern multi-taskers: it is fragrant, colorful, edible and paradoxically, both stimulating and soothing.
There are over 350 cultivars and varieties of lavender varying in color from indigo, purple, mauve, magenta, amethyst, violet, lavender, periwinkle, light blue and pink to white.
Lavender's documented history is substantial. It was used by the Egyptians for cosmetics and embalming, by Mary to anoint the feet of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, by the Romans for fragrance in public baths and by Queen Victoria to sooth her headaches.
Lavender was designated "Herb of the Year" in 1999 by the International Herb Association, which selects an herb that is outstanding in at least two of the three major categories: medicinal, culinary, or decorative. Herb societies from around the world work together to educate the public about the designated herb.
Lavender, with its characteristic square stem, belongs to the same herb family as mint, sage, thyme and rosemary and differs from these in that lavender is cultivated for its flowers rather than purely for its leaves.
Lavender is appreciated and marketed in all its forms: fresh bouquets, dried arrangements, loose dried flowers, essential oil of lavender, dried or fresh culinary lavender and landscape plant.
The list of ailments said to be treated by lavender throughout history is surprising and somewhat humorous: headache, burns, snake bites, dog bites, bee stings, hoarseness, colic, flatulence, seizures, vertigo, swooning fits, loss of memory, dimness of sight, melancholy, fainting, infertility, insomnia, varicose ulcers, paralysis, nerve pain, rheumatism, sprains, and toothache.
Lavender plants are drought tolerant and perform well in poor, sandy and rocky soil. Lavender requires a minimum of 6 hours of full sun per day and must be heavily pruned in late fall or early spring.
Lavender is a popular landscape plant in areas where rabbits and deer are pests. These creatures can graze your homestead down faster than you can say, "We spent the summer landscaping", but deer and rabbit will stay clear of lavender's pungent flavor.
Dating from 17th century England, "Lavender Blue" is a folk song with many versions and as many as thirty verses. Most versions go something like this: "Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green/When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen/Who told you so, dilly, dilly, who told you so?/'Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly, that told me so. (Halliwell, James, 1849. "Popular Rhymes & Nursery Tales".)