At this time of year, the lavender at the National Trust's Hidcote is creating a haze of blue swaying gently over the silvery leaves below. Hurrying past on a warm day you catch an aromatic waft, familiar to any well-kept sock draw or pot pourri dish.
Lavender is synonymous with Hidcote, thanks to the garden’s creator, Lawrence Johnston who refined his collection of plants by following his own wise advice; 'choose only the best variety, or the best strain (do not be content with second or third best). Grow it under the conditions that suit it best...'
Perhaps tellingly; Lavender ‘Hidcote’ and Lavender ‘Hidcote Giant’ have achieved the RHS’s Award of Garden Merit status and the former is now sold as one of the most popular lavender choices.
WHAT LAVENDERS ARE PLANTED AT HIDCOTE?
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ is used in the borders that spill out of the Plant Shelter and towards the Lily Pool.
Here, gentle trimming has allowed the plants to form a natural mound from the middle of the border to the edge; giving a fine textured evergreen structure that is repeated a few times at differing intervals along the border.
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Hidcote Giant’
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Hidcote Giant’ is planted alongside fuchsias and tree peonies in between the clipped square bases of the pillars in the Pillar Garden.
‘Hidcote Giant’ certainly lives up to its name in stature with long flower stalks too. The grey foliage has a coarse texture for a bolder planting position, ultimately reaching up to one metre in spread and height.
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’
Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’ forms the inner wheel of the Lilac Circle, acting as a skirt in front of Iris pallida subsp. pallida to screen the exposed rhizomes that become more obvious once the iris finished flowering.
In a formal context like this, ‘Munstead’ responds well to tight trimming to maintain its current size and height.
HOW TO GROW LAVENDER
Grow lavender, as part of a range of plants, to provide pollinators with pollen and nectar all year round.
1. Choose a sunny spot
Plant your lavender in a well-drained, sunny position; of Mediterranean origin, these plants really dislike waterlogging.
2. Grow it near a path
Consider planting lavender close to a path to reap the benefit of the aromatic leaves and flowers when passing by, better still; use a raised bed or container so that you can run your fingers through the plant as you pass by.
3. Deadhead regularly
Remove dead heads by cutting the stems back to the leaves to avoid a ‘lockdown hair style’ of wispy stray ends.
HOW DO I DRY LAVENDER?
To dry lavender for use indoors; dead head the flower spikes as the flower colour begins to fade and hang bunches of stems together indoors.