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.

Jottings…

• 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.