Sunday, April 6, 2008

French Lavender, Lavandula dentata

Everyone thinks of French lavender as very fragrant. However, French lavender, Lavandula dentata, is not known for its fragrance. But the varieties of lavender grown in France for essential oil production are very fragrant. Those varieties are a cross between two different lavenders, Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia. I will post about these varieties another time. It all boils down to the names we use to identify plants. There are many similar common names but only one botanical name. For example, there are many trees called maple, but there is a big difference between sugar maple and Japanese maple. If you ask for a maple tree at the nursery you might not get the variety you want unless you use the botanical name. Using botanical names for plants can help to assure you will get the particular plant variety you want.

In most nurseries you will find plants labelled as French lavender to be Lavandula dentata. The photo to the left is French Lavender or Lavandula dentata. A good way to tell is to look at the leaf of the plant up close. You will see there are dents in the leaf, hence the botanical name dentata. French Lavender or Lavandula dentata is grown because of its extended bloom time. Recently in the nursery there has been a newer variety of French lavender called Gray French lavender. The photo to the right is Gray French Lavender or Lavandula dentata 'Gray'.

One of the nurseries I really like to get lavender plants and other herbs from is Mountain Valley Growers. They grow organic herbs and are a mail order nursery only. Before you discount them because of that, please give them a try. They were the first nursery I ever ordered plants through the mail from and I am glad I did. The plants come delivered right to your door and in fine shape for planting. Mountain Valley Growers has an excellent website with good descriptions of the organic herbs they grow and their growing requirements.

Any of the lavenders look so much better in person. If you live nearby and want to see the various lavenders in bloom, please come for a visit. You can come to visit by appointment or you'll find my days open listed on my website under News and Events, Springville Lavender Gardens. I will be posting here about my lavender blooms times. Right now the French lavenders are blooms along with the wisteria, now in full bloom and some of the roses. The rest of the lavender usually blooms the middle of May through June. I'll keep you posted, so check back often and be sure to ask questions here or make comments.