The deepest purple of all lavenders is 'Hidcote' is a compact variety, suitable for growing in borders or as dwarf hedging and is one of the most popular lavenders with its dense silver-grey foliage, covered in fragrant, dark purple-blue flower spikes in mid-summer.
Although commonly known as English lavender, the species actually hails from the Mediterranean, growing on dry, sun-baked hillsides. In gardens, therefore, it will benefit from a well-drained position in full sun. Once planted and established they are relatively maintenance-free. Apart from occasional watering during dry periods, they will endure tough conditions and require only a once-a-year trim to keep them neat and to encourage abundant new growth.
Named after the gorgeous gardens of Hidcote Manor Gardens in Gloucestershire, Lavendula angustifolia "Hidcote Blue" has been awarded the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
Sowing: Late winter to late spring (Feb to April) or sow in late summer to autumn (Aug to Oct) Lavender can be sown at anytime of year but prefers the ground temperature to be around 13 to 18°C (55 to 65°F). Sow seed on the surface of a well drained, seed compost in pots or trays. Cover seed with a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Keep at a temperature of between 15 to 20°C (59 to 68°F). Germination in 21 to 90 days. When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost, 45cm (18in) apart. For best results, provide any ordinary, well-drained soil in full sun.
Cultivation: Lavenders do best in moderately fertile, well-drained, alkaline soils in full sun. Once established they thrive on poor, dry, stony soils, but do not tolerate water logging. In poorly-drained soils plant on a mound or, in the case of hedging, on a ridge which will keep the base of the plants out of saturated soil. On heavier soils consider adding large quantities of gravel to improve drainage. It will grow in slightly acid soils. Adequate spacing is essential to provide good air circulation. For informal plantings allow up to 90cm (36in). Where grown as a hedge, plant about 30cm (12in) apart or 45cm (18in) apart for taller cultivars. Prune back to encourage bushy growth. Although lavenders are drought-tolerant, they need watering until established. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilisers. Lavenders grow well in containers but are deep rooted and need large pots with a diameter of 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in). Use a loam-based compost such as John Innes No. 3 with added coarse grit for drainage and a controlled-release fertiliser. Plants will need regular watering in summer, but should be kept on the dry side over winter.
Pruning: Lavenders should be pruned every year to keep them in a tidy shrub form. Pruning or trimming should be done each year in late summer, as soon as the blooms have faded, so that the bushes have time to make a little new growth before winter. On established plants use secateurs to remove flower stalks and about 2.5cm (1in) of the current year’s growth, making sure that some green growth remains. Hard pruning is sometimes done in April, but this means the loss of a season’s flowers.
Harvesting: Harvesting Lavender is one of the most enjoyable pleasures any gardener can have. Lavender flower heads look grey before the flowers open. Cut lavender stems when the lowest blossom opens. Make the cut slightly above the first set of leaves leaving a stem length suitable for a vase or whatever flower arrangement you choose. The colour will be more vivid when dried. Cut the flower stems during the cool of the morning after the dew has dried. The fragrance is the strongest then, and the blossoms will keep most of the perfume oils present, even when dried. Keep cutting blooming stems to encourage more growth. Plants can flower up to three times during a summer. Tie the stems in small bunches and hang upside down in a warm dark place for the deepest colour and to prevent them from bending. More essential oils will be retained, too. Use a dark, dry, airy room for fast drying. It will take about a week for the flowers to completely dry.
Plant Uses: Banks and Slopes, City/Courtyard Gardens, Coastal, Cottage/Informal Garden, Drought Resistant, Flowers Borders and Beds, Garden Edging, Gravel Garden, Mediterranean, Patio/Container Plants, Rock Garden or Wildlife Gardens. Aromatherapy, Culinary uses, Moth and Insect repellent.
As an Insecticide: Simply planting lavender within your garden works as a natural insecticide, simply because of its fragrance, which insects despise. Planting lavender around plants that are prone to insect infestation helps keep bugs at bay. Dried lavender flowers are traditionally used for filling sachets and for placing amongst linen. The dried flower can be simply placed inside drawers or closets repels moths and it makes your clothes small great.
Other Uses: Lavender is a popular herb for the garden it is prized for both its fragrance and its colour. Lavender is popular amongst beekeepers and produces a delicately scented honey. The flowers are rich in essential oil which is obtained by distillation. Lavender oil is used extensively in perfumery, Roses and Lavender, with a little mint and some lemon juice to activate the alkaloids can make both a brilliant pink dye and very tasty pink lemonade.
Nomenclature: Lavender gets its name from the Latin word lavare, which means to wash. In ancient times, Romans used the aromatic herb to scent their bathwater. The species name angustifolia means 'having narrow foliage'.
Lavendula "Hidcote Blue" is named after Hidcote Manor Garden, it is a landscape garden located on the outskirts of the village of Hidcote Bartrim, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, England and owned by the National Trust. Created by American-born horticulturalist Major Lawrence Johnston, it is often described as one of England's great "Arts and Crafts" gardens with its collection of rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous borders.
Johnston's mother, Gertrude Winthrop, purchased the Hidcote Manor Estate in 1907. The estate was located within a part of England with strong connections to the then-burgeoning Arts and Crafts movement. Johnston soon became interested in turning the fields around the estate into a garden. By 1910 Johnston had begun to lay out the key features of the garden and by the 1920s Johnston had twelve full-time gardeners working for him. The garden was acquired by the National Trust in 1947. Johnston's influences in creating his garden include such luminaries as Alfred Parsons, Gertrude Jekyll, and others. In 2007 a garden designed by Chris Beardshaw that drew its inspiration from Johnson's Hicote was constructed at the Chelsea Flower Show. The garden takes the form of a series of "rooms" of various characters created by the creative use of hedges and walls. These rooms are linked together, and some by imaginative vistas and furnished with topiaries. Some have ponds and fountains, and all are planted with flowers in bedding schemes. They surround the Tudor manor house, and there are numerous outhouses and a kitchen garden. The property is close to Kiftsgate Court Gardens, which is built on the very edge of the Cotswolds escarpment.