Featured Flower: Lavender
Lavender is a beautifully simple flower with a form that brings to mind the poetic form of Japanese printmaking. Notice how the groupings of florets are arranged in strata (layer upon layer reaching for the peak around the central stem), like a pagoda.
Lavender is more than just a flower, it is a color, a beautiful bluish hued purple. You may associate this flower with the blooming fields of purple in France. Here in Sonoma County you can find lavender blooming from June through August (possibly peaking in July, depending on your microclimate).
The most common form of Lavender is what is commonly known as “English lavender” (specifically Lavandula angustifolia). Lavender is also an excellent landscaping element, as it attracts pollinating bees, creates good color, lives a long time, and is drought tolerant (or at least not a water hog). Mixed with decorative grasses it can be very attractive both in work and home environments.
Lavender is also an aromatic plant. Its potent scent is familiar in the form of candles, soaps and other manufactured products (often mixed with other scents like vanilla). Perhaps the most unusual product I have tried which was made from this flower was lavender chocolate. But did you know that in its pure form, the essential oil of the lavender is very soothing, calming, and helps clear your thoughts. It is often used to invigorate and relax. At this very moment I am enjoying the scent of lavender at my desk.
Lavender infusions are believed to soothe all manner of ailments, including headaches, insect bites, and skin burns. In bunches, lavender will repel certain insects. Sometimes used in pillows, lavender is often used as a aid sleep and for relaxation. It has also been used to treat acne, prevent scars, and help reduce inflammation. As for intangible meanings, lavender has even been used a symbol of devotion.
Every year, I harvest lavender once it has stopped blooming and the bees are done, then I dry it (which takes very little time), remove the stems and place the dried blooms in purple organza sachets for Christmas gifts for my family. Unfortunately this year, our plant suffered a break and did not recover. So we are starting anew. We have a fresh young plant, so that with any luck, we will be providing lavender sachets for loved ones’ bedsides next year, giving all of us good dreams.
By Nadja Masura