Two Lavenders


Most of the plants in my grandmother’s Derbyshire garden seemed exhausted and almost visibly panting in the relentless sunshine and heat that has been blazing down these past weeks. But two plants were noticeably enjoying themselves in this most un-English climate: English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and its unrelated Mediterranean friend, cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus). Covered in bees, both plants basked happily in the sun, their tiny silvery leaves perfectly designed to reflect the light and resist transpiration.

The flowers of cotton lavender are usually a bright dandelion yellow. This, coupled with its tendency to bulldoze over any nearby plants, makes it somewhat unpopular with many gardeners, myself included. But my grandmother’s cotton lavender flowers are of a more forgiveable lemon hue, an almost restful colour, which stands it in better stead for vases.


At some point during my stay, I managed to snatch five minutes and a pair of scissors. A tuft of both lavenders and a tug of dried grass from the hedgerow made for one of the quickest vases I have ever created. Then it was straight back to my book on the seat under the shade of the walnut tree. It wasn’t just the plants that were wilting in the sunshine!

In a vase on Monday is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden, and I’m looking forward to seeing the flowers that she and other garden bloggers have managed to salvage from the drought or will it be mainly dried grasses this week?

EDIT: As mention in my comment below, it seems that this lemon yellow Santolina may not be S. chamaecyparissus, but another species in the same genus.


17 thoughts on “Two Lavenders

  1. Often the simplest vases are the prettiest – I really love the simplicity of this one and I am glad you are finding time to chill after working hard (?) for your exams. I have recently realised that this is the ‘English’ lavender and wonder if I would have more success at keeping this in a neat and clump as every other lavender I have grown gets woody and leggy. I see neat clumps of lavender elsewhere – is the solution as simple as that? I have not forgotten your luzula, and will sort it out once my group visits are over and done with

    1. I have had some wonderful post-exam chilling time, thanks Cathy, although various other urgent things have kept me busier than ever too, and it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had time for photography and blogging, which I’ve missed very much. I think that all lavenders become woody shrubs in the end. The advice I’ve heard is to dig them up and replace them every 5-10 years. My grandmother’s is a venerable old thing, older than me, with a very long, gnarled trunk that snakes for about a metre along the wall. For neat clumps, they need to be young.

  2. I love your staging and I enjoy your visits to your grandmother’s. Tell her hello from Texas. In the Hill Country part of our state, where it is a little drier, they have started growing lavender.

    1. I shall send her your Texan greetings! I should think lavender would do very well in Texas, much better than in Scotland I have no doubt. In fact I am surprised it is not quite common in those hot, dry parts.

  3. Lovely. Beautiful flowers in a beautiful landscape. Wonderful photo of the bee, too. (I have dry grasses in my vase this week. And lavender.)

  4. Lavender and Santolina make a pretty combination! I may have to try that next week as little else may survive our current heatwave. I can appreciate the mad dash to collect the flowers in the hot sun too.

  5. Such a lovely picture and combination! I can’t believe I have never heard of this…and to think it might do very well here in my hot, dry climate! All the pictures I am seeing on line look quite a bit yellower than yours. But I will order up some right away!

    1. Libby, I think I have got the name of the Santolina wrong. Having quickly googled ‘lemon yellow santolina’ I found S. pinnata ssp. neopolitana ‘Sulphurea’, and also S. rosmarinifolia ssp. rosmarinifolia ‘Primrose Gem’. It looks like the S. chamaecyparissus is always going to be that bright yellow. So you might have better luck searching Google for alternatives in the same genus. Apologies for my mistake and I hope that helps!

  6. Lavender, bees and dry stone walls. Perfect. My lavender plants always end up woody and leggy, even the ones in pots. I think you are quite right in that they need replacing regularly to keep that lovely bushy look. I had decided that lavender wasn’t for my (usually very boggy soil) and now see what happens! Oh, the dilemma of what to plant!

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