Lavender ‘Monet’ and prostrate rosemary

Article and photos by Penny Woodward

French lavender in flower

Dwarf French lavender Monet

Blue-flowered prostrate rosemary

Prostrate rosemary hangs over the side

A hedge of Lavandula detata Monet

Monet lavender hedge at Diggers, Dromana

Typically mediterranean plants, lavenders and rosemaries love well-drained, sandy soils and lots of sun, but hate humidity. More are killed by overwatering or planting into heavy soils, than for any other reason. Once planted in the right position the only care needed is regular pruning. French lavenders (Lavandula dentata) are great because they flower for most of the year, have a lovely mentholy lavender scent and provide nectar for bees, butterflies and beneficial insects.

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Pruning lavender

Lavender flower

Spanish lavender needs to be pruned in summer.

Italian lavender 'Avonview'

In the cool of the early morning and late in the afternoon I have been tidying up my garden. We had so much rain in spring that everything grew rapidly with lots of plants being overgrown, swamping nearby plants. I am just now finding time to do something about this and while most of the garden should have been cut back weeks ago (I always seem to be running weeks behind), now is the perfect time to prune most lavenders. They have been glorious right through spring but now the flower heads have largely finished and are starting to brown off, so its time to cut them back. All the Spanish and Italian lavenders (Lavandula pedunculata and L. stoechas) benefit from an allover trim. Just hold a clump of flowers in your hand and cut back well below the flowers, taking about a third of the leafy stem as well. You should end up with a compact, shaped shrub with no flowers.  One of the joys of pruning lavender is the scent, I find it makes me feel cheerful and clearheaded. Not unexpected as in aromatherapy lavender is calming and antidepressant. Read more

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