Gardening / In praise of lovely lavender

Lavender “Princess”... named as the Plant of the Year in the 2014 Nursery and Garden Industry Awards.

Lavender “Princess”… named as the Plant of the Year in the 2014 Nursery and Garden Industry Awards.

WINNERS are the theme this week, starting with one of the world’s favourite plants, lavender – used from Roman times for medicinal value and its magnificent fragrance.

Almost all female perfumes use lavender oil as a base to which the various perfume houses add their secret ingredients.

One of the world’s largest suppliers of essential lavender oils is Bridestowe Lavender, of Tasmania. Based near Launceston, its several hundred hectares of English lavender are a sight to behold in December.

BASICALLY, there is French and English lavender, with the latter surprisingly used by the perfume makers rather than the French.

Lavender “Princess”... named as the Plant of the Year in the 2014 Nursery and Garden Industry Awards.

Lavender “Princess”… named as the Plant of the Year in the 2014 Nursery and Garden Industry Awards.

There are thousands of varieties of lavenders and you may have one that no other person has. If you have two varieties of lavender, the bees may cross pollinate the flowers and next you have a unique lavender growing.

Lavender grows well in Canberra and will blend with every type of garden from the bush garden with the mauve and violet flowers blending perfectly with our Aussie plants.

French lavender flowers early in spring and the English lavender later and into summer, giving an extended season of fragrance and colour.

For potpourri, the time to collect the flowers is just as they come into bloom, early in the season.

Lavender “Princess”, developed and grown by Plant Growers Australia, has just been named as the Plant of the Year in the 2014 Nursery and Garden Industry Awards. The award represents the pinnacle of PGA’s breeding success with a background of 15 years of dedicated lavender development.

“Princess”, a compact small bush that is less inclined to go woody and sparse at the base, is famed for its vivid electric pink flowers. Being a Mediterranean plant, it is drought hardy, although in prolonged dry periods appreciates a good deep drink.

I have been trialling a group in our garden for the last 12 months and am impressed with their performance. It is available from most garden centres.

THE next winner is the Chelsea Flower Show’s 2014 Product of the Year, namely the Bosch Isio cordless shears.

The Bosch Isio cordless shears… Chelsea Flower Show’s 2014 Product of the Year.

The Bosch Isio cordless shears… Chelsea Flower Show’s 2014 Product of the Year.

The tool has an inbuilt, rechargeable lithium battery, which does not go flat in between uses, even after weeks of non use. With a cutting edge similar to sheep shears, the Isio will run for 50 minutes.

The clippers are available in Canberra, but I bought mine in Holland several years ago. I use them for deadheading perennials after flowering to shaping topiary, clipping box hedging and edging our small lawn.

There is also a mini 13cm hedge-clipping attachment as an accessory.

ANOTHER winner… congratulations to Jim Fogarty and the Australian landscape team for winning the Best in Show and Gold Medal at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Hampton Court Flower Show in London. Their “The Essence of the Australian Garden” was presented by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne in partnership with Tourism Victoria and Tourism Northern Territory as the principal sponsors.

This follows Victorian nursery Fleming’s winning a Gold Medal and Best in Show at the Chelsea Flower Show in London last year.


• Do not cut back frost-damaged foliage as it helps to protect the soft foliage underneath. Wait until the frosts are over.

• Keep picking lemons because if they’re left on the tree they slow down new growth.

• Time is running out to plant deciduous trees and ornamental blossom trees.


One Response to “Gardening / In praise of lovely lavender”

  1. Jane Goffman
    August 6, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Dear Cedric, I very much enjoy your articles on gardening and it was a pleasure to get your call last night. It prompted me to spend the morning wading through the Capital Metro online survey, which closes Friday, and try to make sense of the many layers of promotional material and get a better understanding of the actual proposal and how it would work.

    The problem I find is that these consultations very often end up being dominated by opinions rather than clear evidence and reasoned argument. The Capital Metro website is filled with glossy pictures and motherhood statements that no right-thinking person could disagree with, but one comes away with the impression that it is all rather one-sided and glowy. Not surprisingly, this raises the question of whether one is being informed by an objective party or manipulated by a marketing exercise.

    I genuinely do not know enough yet about the light rail proposal to make any confident statement as to the impacts, except to say that their strategic approach seems to ignore the basic fundamentals of strategic planning. They don’t come to terms with the facts, and those facts include the inconvenient truth that plunging a great deal of public monies into a project that is extremely visible, that disrupts the city’s major traffic corridor for some indeterminate period and in the short to medium term involves cutting down a long slab of urban forest that people value and associate with the bush capital/garden city image, where cost blowouts are inevitable and political fallout unavoidable, is a gigantic risk. If they are to make it work, they need to get maximum buy-in, and to do that they need to prove their case – not just at the beginning, but all the way through when things go wrong and elections highlight the difficulties and faults that will arise. Having said that, I would also say that I really do hope they can prove that this is a project that justifies going ahead despite our relatively small population and extremely high car dependence. I’ve lived in many cities in my life: London, Geneva, Vienna, Paris and Brussels, New York and Philadelphia, Sydney, Perth and Hobart, and while I believe that Canberra offers a quality of life that’s unparalleled I also believe that we need to be seriously planning for 50 years from now, demanding excellence in all our infrastructure, and building an ACT economy that can support the widest possible range of employment types and revenue streams by capitalising on our assets.

    As you rightly point out, trees and landscape generally may be Canberra’s greatest asset. Managing that asset, looking after it, ensuring that it is protected and replaced as it ages, deserves proper attention and resourcing. We may not have the Barrier Reef on our doorstep but what we do have is rare and remarkable and it’s time we woke up to that and appreciated how important it is.

    But if we’re to keep delivering services AND keep rates at levels that people are able to afford, one way or another we must draw in new revenue, and that requires investment. Building a stronger tourism industry and gradually shifting our economy from one that relies almost exclusively on greenfield development and housing construction to other fields like education, sport, technology and tourism, seems to me to be the only way forward that makes sense. It’s hard to be sure, but my sense is that the ACT government is headed in the right direction, and that the trade-offs we’re making now are justified in the longer term so long as we steer the course carefully, commit to keeping people fully informed, and manage the transition as professionally as we can.

    Best wishes, Jane Goffman

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