I’ve been trying to ring my garden with Lavender … it’s one of the plants the local deer and bunnies don’t seem to like. I thought a full ring might keep the critters away from the other goodies and look rather pretty at the same time. Although I don’t have enough plants for a full circle (yet), the ones there are in full bloom and look (and smell) gorgeous.
One of the most popular herbs on this planet because of its aroma, Lavender is also one of the most useful. Lavender has been used for thousands of years not only for its fragrance but as an antiseptic disinfectant, sedative, tonic and wound healer. Its credentials were firmly established early in the 20th century with the rise of aromatherapy. The story goes that a French perfumery chemist by the name of René Gattefosse confirmed the powers of Lavender when, after his hand was badly burned in a laboratory explosion, he plunged his hand into neat (undiluted) Lavender essential oil and it healed quickly without scars.
When purchasing Lavender, check the Latin binomial name. You want to be sure you’re getting either Lavandula officinalis or Lavandula angustifolia. This is “true” Lavender and has the clearest and sweetest of scents. A lot of what I see on the market today is “Lavandin” which is a cross breed and has a stronger, harsher (somewhat camphorous) scent and inferior medicinal qualities.
Some things you can do with Lavender besides putting it in a potpourri:
Make an infusion (1 teaspoon dried herb to 8 ounces just-boiled water). Steep for 5 minutes or so and drink 2-3 times per day between meals. This provides a sedative action and is good for insomnia, indigestion, migraines & irritability. A stronger infusion (1 ounce dried herb to 16 ounces water steeped for about 10 minutes) will support complaints of the respiratory tract, chills, infectious diseases, fevers and tiredness. I’ll warn you: a Lavender infusion won’t comes out the pretty blue/purple of the flowers – it’s a light green! And it doesn’t taste as good as the flowers smell.
The British Pharmacopoeia recommends Lavender tincture for cases of mild depression. 60 drops per day (spaced out 20 drops in water 3 times daily) was proven out in a double-blind trial.
Pure Lavender essential oil is one of only two that you can apply directly to the skin without diluting it first. For sound sleep, sprinkle 2-3 drops on your pillow before bed. Add 5-6 drops to a warm bath to combat stress. Massage your temples with a drop or two (you can dilute first) to get rid of a headache. 2-3 drops on a cotton ball & placed on the skin will get rid of the sting of insect bites or ease the pain of sunburn or other mild burn (it’ll help it heal faster, too). For a sore throat, take 2-3 drops in a spoonful of honey a couple of times a day.
Lavender is also an insect repellent. Dab 1-2 drops of oil behind the ear to deter head lice or put some flowers in a muslin bag and hang in your closet or put in your drawer to repel moths.
Or make that potpourri by pouring a handful of dried flowers into a bowl. The scent is so calming!