It's time for my lavender harvest! At this time of year when the days are at their hottest and the sun is at its highest, the lavender is at its best. This photo was taken about 3 weeks ago when it was just coming into flower. Since then the flowers have bloomed and been picked by me.
It's a Mediterranean herb with silvery spiked leaves, so it loves to grow in well-drained soil in full sun. As I brush past it the scent is released in the heat. Looking at these photos makes me think I can almost smell it now.
I have several different varieties in the garden including Grosso (used for essential oil extraction), Rosea (pink), Melissa Lilac and Hidcote (dark purple).
Bees adore lavender, and butterflies too. On a hot day a lavender bush positively buzzes with them.
This is known as French lavender, or lavender stoechas, and it has elongated bracts which make it a very graceful garden plant.
In close-up those bracts look like tiny feathers.
The deeply purple buds are very attractive, and it's at this stage that they should be picked on a dry day.
The bracts then open into attractive flowers, and if you look closely they have tiny orange centres.
Here's the same lavender a week later, looking much paler and more washed out.
I did pick it, but it's better harvested before it flowers.
The wonderful smell is so intense. After I've picked it, my hands smell lavendery for quite a while afterwards.
I carefully tie the flowers into bunches, and lay them in our outside table to let any spiders and other bugs crawl away.
So here it is, tied into bunches and ready to dry in my airing cupboard. I'll tell you what I do with it once it's dry in another post.