English Lavender
The breeze ruffles the lavender gently as I sit in the warm, scented sunshine; the purple haze of nearly- opened flowers surrounds me with color and a deep sense of tranquility.
There are 20,000 lavender plants growing at Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm, and early in July the colors draw the eye down the long rows of flowers, and around the plots closest to the buildings. You’ll see shades of whites and blues and lavenders and purples because the English lavenders (lavandula angustafolia) here at the Farm bloom in varying shades of these colors and more. The flowers of the
more aromatic lavandula intermedia varieties burst into white or grey-blue color a little later in the season.

English lavender is actually native to the Mediterranean and can be known by other names such as true lavender, garden lavender, and common lavender, among others. It is often seen in herb gardens, and although it requires soil that drains well, full sun, and a little TLC, in the right conditions English lavender can withstand cooler temperatures better than other species of lavender, making it a good choice for colder climates.*

Each individual variety of English lavender has its own lovely, soft scent, and the differences are most
noticeable when you compare the fragrances of their essential oils. What you’ll also notice about the scent is that while each smells of lavender, all of them are lighter versions of the strong aromatic lavenders, and this is because they chemically contain less of the naturally-occurring bitter camphor that characterizes the aromatic lavandula intermedia plants. That bonus of a softer scent also makes the
English lavenders perfect for culinary purposes.
Have you wondered whether the lavender growing in your yard is a culinary plant? Here’s a trick: taste a tiny bud from the flower head. If it tastes sweet and like lavender, it’s culinary. If it tastes bitter and a bit like soap, it’s aromatic - not toxic, but definitely not tasty!
Want to try a little taste of lavender? Find your favorite sugar cookie recipe, and add ½ - 1 teaspoon of culinary lavender buds for each cup of flour in the recipe. You can whirr the lavender in a food processor with the flour or the sugar in the recipe to add a fine dusting of lavender to the cookies, or you can just add the buds as they are. Mix and bake the cookies as you normally would. Mmmmm.
*source: University of Wisconsin Extension
Ann Marie Criag

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