Now Is The Time To Prune Lavender

Reader Contribution by Lemon Verbena Lady
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You can check out the Lady Lemon Verbena at her blog

Around this time every year, the trimming of the lavender begins. We had a lot of heat in the garden early this year. It seemed that it was earlier than ever this year, but checking our records that we keep each year, it is about the same time as last year.

‘Jean Davis’ lavender is ready to be clipped.
Photo by Nancy Heraud

Some stems get by my watchful eyes and are left for the bees.The ones that I leave have completely opened flowers along the stem.

I have left ‘Munstead’ lavender stems for the bees.
Photo by Nancy Heraud

Some stems are also not ready to cut. So it is a several day process to get everything cut and sometimes I am not finished until the lavender stems are passed its prime and dark. They get recycled or used in the fireplace for the winter fires.

Here is a basket of stems picked to dry. I had a lot of ‘Munstead’, ‘Nana’, ‘Jean Davis’, ‘Melissa’, ‘Rebecca Kay’, ‘Lodden Blue’, some ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Violet Intrigue’.

My basketfull of lavender stems.
Photo by Nancy Heraud

I lost most of my mature ‘Hidcote’ lavenders last year to fungal disease. We tend to plant our plants closely and lavender likes to have air circulation, especially in hot and humid climates like ours. Also, last year was an especially cool and wet summer and not too terribly hot.

Most of the lavender I cut is used to make our favorite summertime drink, lavender lemonade. Our favorite recipe is from The Rosemary House in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.

A glass of lavender hibiscus lemonade to enjoy!
Photo by Nancy Heraud

The Rosemary House’s Lavender Lemonade

• 1/4 cup lavender flowers (I would use Lavendula angustifolia cultivars, like ‘Hidcote’ or ‘Munstead’. ‘Hidcote’ flowers turn the lemonade a lovely violet color.)
• 2 cups boiling water
• 2 (12 fluid ounce) cans of frozen lemonade concentrate

1. Let the lavender flowers and boiling water steep for 10 minutes. Strain.

2. In a gallon container, mix 2 large cans of frozen lemonade concentrate with lavender water

3. Fill container with additional cold water.

4. Chill and enjoy!

To get the intense pink color, I added 2 tablespoons of dried hibiscus flowers. I received my dried hibiscus from a blogging friend in Texas. It is called flor de Jamaica hibiscus flower. The edible flower is Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. It is not hardy for us in the Northeast; it must be grown in a container and brought inside for the winter. It adds an additional mild citrus flavor and cuts the sweetness of the lemonade concentrate.

Some of my lavenders were purchased when I spoke about edible flowers at the Pennsylvania Lavender Festival at Willow Pond Farm, Fairfield, Pennsylvania. Fairfield is just west of Gettysburg.

This coming weekend (June 18-20, 2010) is their annual lavender festival. The keynote speaker this year is Jim Duke. It is a fun day for the family with lavender cutting, gardening vendors, lots of lavender plants and workshops. Admission is $5.

Hopefully, you will be out in your garden clipping your lavenders for drying and enjoying the calming effect it has in your daily herbal life. With the onset of summer, I have discovered that lavender essential oil dabbed on bug bites takes away the itching and redness. It’s a great herbal thing! As always, if I can answer your herb questions, I would be happy to do so. More on trimming and deadheading other herbs in the coming weeks.

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