Lovely Lavenders

    • Paint trunks of young fruit trees with Tree Trunk White. This will keep the soft bark from sun-burning which leaves cracks for borer insects, the most common cause of death of young apple trees.
    • Earwigs are out and about and hungry. Control them with the new “Sluggo Plus”, which has the natural, bacteria-based spinosad added to the original iron phosphate formula.
    • Spray roses every two weeks with Neem oil to keep leaves free of black spot and mildew.
    • Finish planting the summer vegetable garden. Seeds of early corn, and beans can go directly in the soil and plants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash, cucumbers and basil can be set out.
    • Set out zinnias, cosmos, impatiens and begonias for lots of colorful flowers all summer long.

Lovely Lavenders

Lavenders are a favorite group of ornamental herbs native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. They are sun loving plants that thrive in hot weather and grow well in California. Their gray or gray-green, aromatic foliage contrasts nicely with the lavender or purple flowers.

Known and admired for their fragrance, lavenders are used in dried or fresh bouquets, potpourri, lavender wands, oil and perfume. Most lavenders dry beautifully for bouquets and attract bees and butterflies. They make fine landscape plants in perennial gardens or mixed with other Mediterranean plants, like rockrose, sunrose, catmint, rosemary and germander.

English lavender is the best known for the fragrance of its flowers. Its oil is used in perfume, potpourri and soaps and aromatherapists use it for its healing qualities. The whole bush, however, is fragrant and it make an attractive 3-4 foot shrub.

Cultivars come in a wider range of colors than other lavenders: white, pink, the familiar blue ‘Munstead’, and the darker purple ‘Hidcote’. They’re particularly suited to small flower beds and containers, growing to about 18 inches tall.

When French lavender growers crossed English lavender with the longer-stemmed spike lavender, they created hybrids which were larger and produced more oil. These are known as lavandins and they now dominate the world’s lavender oil industry. They also are the best plants for lavender wands because of their long stems. ‘Provence’, ‘Grosso’, and ‘Fred Boutin’ are three fine varieties.

The Spanish lavenders are the show-stoppers in the garden. They are the first to bloom in the spring and their flower petals look like “rabbit’s ears” rising above the large, dark purple spikes. They make small evergreen shrubs about 30 inches tall and grow very well in containers. Cut off faded flowers to keep new blooms coming.

French lavenders are evergreen shrubs to 30 inches tall and 6 feet wide. They have condensed spikes of purple flowers that bloom for many months. Their leaves are indented and green or gray depending on variety. Plants are hardy to about 20°F.

Give lavenders an open exposure with as much sunlight as possible to promote flowers. They require well-drained soil and hate wet feet in the winter. In the summer, established plants need little water. Lavenders in the ground require no fertilizing, but container plants should be given a light feeding in the spring. Enjoy lavenders in pots or in the landscape.

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