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“Fat Spike” Lavender (c) Cheryl Shanahan

Almost nothing brings me more joy in my summer garden than my drift of “Fat Spike” Lavender. I love the blue color, the heady perfume and the swarm of butterflies and honeybees that it attracts each year. Additionally, it’s very drought tolerant, so I can confidently let it “bake” out in the back yard during July and August.

There are several varieties: French, Spanish, Yellow, Sweet, Wooly, to name a few. I have “Fat Spike,” which is a cross. I love it because it grows wider than taller, and it beautifully takes up a lot of real-estate in my perennial bed (that being said: it’s starting to crowd out my knock-out rose bush, but that’s moving up to the front yard this fall anyway, so I have a solution).

I love watching the bees buzz around the floral spikes; it’s sort of like having an outdoor aquarium – but with plants and winged creatures instead of coral and fish. It’s very soothing to me to sit back in a big chair and watch them do their work.

You can make all sorts of things with lavender: sachets, soaps, lotions. I have even had it in ice cream. I don’t do much else with it than dry the flowers and strip the buds. I have a huge bowl of them in my china cabinet. If I ever get over my sewing aversion, I may make sachets out of them (hmmm….sounds like work! maybe not!).

What Lavender Likes:

  • Blazing sun: minimum  6-8 hours a day
  • Well-drained soil (I have learned this lesson the hard way)
  • From Year 2 onward: to have the top 6″ of  growth cut off the end of each season