Building a Lavender Garden from “Scratch”  

Gros_Bleu-StemsAre you dreaming of a purple haze of lavender in your backyard and lavender’s refreshing scent wafting through an open window on a sunny afternoon?  Almost everyone can make a mini-garden of lavender that can fulfill this dream and provide enough dried stems for your home and buds for sachets or potpourri.  A mini-bed can be created along the side of a building, in a circle, a knot garden, or in a straight line bed along sidewalk or driveway.  The garden featured in this post contains just 18 plants of the Gros Blue variety which is a cultivar of Grosso, a Lavandin.  We love it for its color, fragrance and stem length.

There are just a few things to consider:

  1. Chose the right location, full sun with good drainage
  2. Prepare your soil; a sandy, loamy soil is ideal, but you can amend any soil to work
  3. Chose the right variety for your garden and buy enough plants to space them with room for air to circulate
  4. Plant, Water, mulch, snip, and prune

Choosing the Timing and the Right Location

 Chose a location that receives the most sunlight in your yard.  South facing is helpful and so is a wind-break or a building or a stone wall nearby.  We have open field gardens that do well with a fence as a near-by wind-break, critical in Zone 5.

Plot out your garden first and decide how many plants to buy.  We plant in early June, after the danger of frost has past, but before the heat requires too much watering.  Fall planting is fine in some warmer areas of the country.  Make certain that you have good drainage with a natural slope where water from a heavy deluge of rain can quickly run off the garden.  Lavender likes rain, but does not like to have its feet “wet”…so no standing water in the lavender garden, ever. (standing water leads to root rot–a very sad occurrence).

Soil Preparation

 Lavender loves a sandy, loamy soil just like the Mediterranean soil it came from originally.  Our soil has a lot of clay in it, so we dig a hole 18″ deep and fill it with potting soil, pearlized limestone, and pea gravel.  This soil mix should crumble in your fingers and is “friable” which helps promote healthy root growth.  You can also add play sand, but we reserve the play sand for mulch.  Use a mini-soil tester to make sure the soil mix has a PH of 7.  A PH of 6 or below is too acidic for healthy growth.  Lavender likes “cheap” soil, so there is rarely a need to add fertilizer.

 Sequim, Washington has a gritty soil and Delaware a sandy soil which are both naturally hospitable soils for lavender, but the rest of us need to compensate.

Close-up of Gros Bleu Lavender

Choosing the right lavender plants for your garden

 There are now about 200 varieties of lavender available in the market place.  We suggest that you buy from a local nursery to get the plants that will do well in your growing zone.  In our case, we plant very winter hardy lavender like to true Angustifolia Munstead and Hidcote which survive our quirky winters in growing zone 5.  If you like long stems, consider the new variety “Phenomenal” which can withstand cold, rain and draught.  This is a cultivar of Grosso, a very sturdy Lavandin with long stems.   If you’re going for a sea of lavender, buy all of the same variety for each garden.

 If your gardens are full, consider adding a lavender plant as a fragrant purple accent in a mixed perennial garden. It pairs well with roses and many other favorites.

Gros_Bleu-WeedingPlant, water, weed, snip and prune

 Measure your garden and read the spacing requirements on the tag of your plants.  Lavenders come in many sizes from compact, 12″ spreads to huge 36″ mounded spreads.  Make sure to allow enough space between the plants so the air can circulate around them and you can move around the plants to harvest the lavender flowers and weed.

 Dig holes 12-18″ deep and 12″ wide and refill your hole with the amended soil.  Lavender roots extend 18″ deep, but a 1 year old plant has about 3″ of roots, so you need to mound up a little Pyramid inside your hole and gently spread the baby’s roots over the pyramid, so that the crown of the plant is even with the garden.  Water the plants when you have patted them down into the soil.

Pea_Gravel_ newspaper_mulch We add a top cover of pea gravel to our entire garden after planting for two reasons.  First, it’s light color reflects sunlight back into the plant and prevents fungus and second because it works its way into the soil and breaks down the clay, allowing the roots to “breathe”.

Garden side by side year one and two Don’t expect many stems in your first summer, but year two will yield more and year three should be spectacular.  It’s important to cut off spent stems, to encourage more growth.  English lavenders will give you a second cutting in September if you cut the stems in July.  If you experience a rainy summer with lots of cloud cover, consider adding a 1-2″ play sand mulch on top of the gravel all around the plant to bounce light back into the plant.  This little tip can spare you from root rot and promote healthy growth by tricking the plant into thinking it’s really back home in the Mediterranean.

Gros Blue garden in the fallWeeding is important because weeds can “choke” a young lavener plant and be the cause of an early demise.  We weed by hand because we are keeping our gardens organic and herbicide free. Prune in the fall after the plant has gone to sleep.  Lavandins can be pruned and shaped into a neat mound and the Angustifolia’s can at least be made neater, although they grow asymmetrically and always look a little “oppitity”.

 Your garden should give you color, fragrance  and pleasure from mid-June until mid- July plus or minus two weeks.  It may rest in August and flower again in September providing you with lavender enough for your home and gift-giving.

Enjoy!

Ginna Gemmell

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Lavender Gifts & Products

from the Garden

Lavender gifts, hand-crafted, delivered straight to your home from our organic farm 

Lavender Green - Organic Lavender Flowers, Lavender Essential Oils & Lavender Products

Lavender Green™, one of America’s oldest commercial organic lavender farms is located in the rolling foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. Here we grow several thriving varieties of English and French dried lavender flowers and buds.




Our seven organic lavender gardens supply our culinary and dried lavender flowers. Five of our gardens feature several varieties of Lavandula Angustifolia (True English Lavender) which are: Munstead, Hidcote, Twickle Purple, and Royal Velvet.  And two of our gardens feature Lavandula X intermedia (Lavandin or French lavender) varieties which are GrosBleu and Phenomenal.

High school students from our Western Pennsylvania community engage in entrepreneurial training as they care for our sprawling Lavender Green™ gardens. During their season here on our lavender farm, they manage the planting, tending, cutting and crafting of the lavender. Talented local craftswomen also help to create our original lavender products and gifts.

Lavender Green™ rasied flowers and buds and are *organic, fair traded and never tested on animals. Here on our website, we’re proud to offer you our own extensive online shop of unique lavender aromatherapy products and gifts.

“Our vision is to bring the fragrant, healthful benefits of lavender into every American home.”

Lavender Gifts and Products 

Experience the many benefits of fragrant lavender  

Lavender pillows filled with fragrant lavender and natural kapok fiber

Gifts from our lavender garden are fashioned in the cottage craft tradition with the finest French and American fabrics. Our lavender pillows, sachets and closet fresheners are filled with fragrant English lavender and other natural fillings like buckwheat hulls, kapok, flax seed and millet hulls.

Our lavender Essential Oil Aromatherapy blends are pure and made from natural, organic or wild crafted essential oils. They are fragrant, complex and provide a soothing alternative for healing and wellness. And our lavender candles are made from true lavender essential oil and natural soy wax for pure aromatherapy benefits and generous burn time.

Lavender Green’s arrangements and bouquets contain artfully dried lavender flowers for lasting fragrance. And our organic culinary lavender seasonings and teas will both awaken your senses and soothe your stress-filled days.

We also offer exceptional lavender products from affiliate companies who share our commitment in using safe and natural ingredients like The Good Home Co., Aromafloria, Herban Essentials, Revolution Tea, and Harney & Sons.

Enjoy the healthful, fragrant benefits of lavender in all of our products and feel confident knowing that you’ve purchased them from a sustainable lavender farm. We are committed to the organic farming of lavender, the “flowers from Heaven”.

*LavenderGreen is presently exempt from USD 205.101A1 of the National Organic Program Regulation, eCFR.

Lavender Aromatherapy Products Renew your spirit and nourish your skin with pure Lavender essential oil bath and body care products. contoured spa wraps - filled with fragrant lavender