Located at the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, Sequim has become “America’s Provence,” the unlikely lavender capital of the United States with more than 50 acres of the beautiful fragrant plants billowing in the gentle breezes of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley.
[sidebar]Area farmers offer the following lavender cultivation tips:
– Select varieties that are hardy in your area and meet your needs.
– Prepare a well-drained soil amended with chicken manure in full sun.
– Place plants so they have room to spread out—at least two to three feet apart—and cut back tall and spindly shoots to encourage lateral growth.
– Water lavender regularly during its first growing season.
– Mulch lavender with sand to keep the plants clean and reflect light and heat, which results in more fragrant blooms.
– Harvest blossoming stalks when one half of the flower buds have opened. If picking for sachets, harvest when three quarters to all of the buds on each stalk have opened; strip buds from stalks when dry.
– Prune plants in the Pacific Northwest by one-third in late winter or early spring; plants in warmer climates can be pruned in autumn. Lavender requires an annual haircut to maintain a dense, well-branched form that resists flopping.[/sidebar]
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Zones 5–8, is sweetly fragrant and prized for both its perfume and culinary uses. Compact in stature and with a long bloom season, the semi-woody plants are evergreen with narrow, typically grey-green foliage. English lavender is the hardiest and most widely planted lavender.
- ‘Royal Velvet’ has especially dark flowers and a sweet smell.
- ‘Hidcote’ is favored in the kitchen; ‘Hidcote Superior’ has a particularly uniform growth habit.
- ‘Jean Davis’ has light pink flowers.
- ‘Martha Roderick’ blooms with a spicy scent over a long period.
- ‘Nana Alba’ is a dwarf plant with pure white flowers and narrow grey foliage.
Lavandin sometimes called hedge lavender (Lavandula ×intermedia) Zones 5–8, is a vigorous but sterile hybrid of L. angustifolia and L. latifolia. Plants are large and productive, a favorite for crafting. Lavandin is almost as hardy as English lavender and more tolerant of heat in the summer. Flower fragrance is pungent with notes of camphor.
- ‘Provence’ has long stems and is good for crafting lavender wands.
- ‘Dutch Mill’ is tall and hedge-like.
- ‘Grosso’ is especially fragrant and a favored for making wands, sachets, and bundles.
- ‘Fred Boutin’ is a favorite for landscaping
Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) Zones 7–9, has a more rangy habit with narrow green foliage. Two to four petal-like bracts that look like rabbit ears top the characteristically purple blossoms. Seeds profusely and can be invasive.