Luscious Lavender Is Low Maintenance

Lavender is an undemanding plant, needing only a well-drained soil and room to grow.

Lavender Wildflowers

Lavender Wildflowers

Lavender is one of those plants that has a timeless charm. It's been in gardens worldwide for centuries. For gardeners interested in a plant that doesn't need constant watering, attracts beneficial insects and smells wonderful, lavender can be the lady of the landscape. All it needs is good drainage and lots of room to grow.

Lavender lover Rosemary Nightingale of Squaw Valley Herb Gardens near Fresno, Calif., has grown the herb for more than 30 years. And in all that time, she hasn't run out of inventive ways to use the plant - in and out of the landscape.

"I love that it has so many gifts, you know for culinary recipes, for medicinal remedies, for crafts, for beauty, for just the whole sense of fragrance, it's fantastic," she says.

When Rosemary plants lavender, she chooses a spot that has at least four feet of room all around it. She plants in the soil that's there, adding no organic matter or fertilizer. All she does is water the plant in by creating a well around the plant to direct the water flow to the roots. Once the lavender is established over the growing season, she cuts way back on watering. A good layer of mulch keeps moisture in and weeds out.

Harvest lavender when the blooms are at their peak - tight, richly colored, plentiful buds. The stems come together in clusters. Grab a handful and cut the lavender about one inch above the wood or dry part. This is a good time to prune some of the woodier branches away for even better flower production later in the season.

Rosemary places the flowers on a drying screen. Soon the harvest will be turned into lavender honey, lavender sugar, cleaning solutions, soaps, incense and on and on.

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