Lavandula angustifolia is best known as English Lavender, however it does not actually originate from England.
In fact, this delightful, purple flowering plant is native to the Mediterranean, in particular to areas of Spain, Croatia, France and Italy.
The plant is known for its wonderful floral scent, fine, delicate lilac flower spikes, and thick bushy growth. It is also referred to as common lavender, true lavender, and garden lavender, and its Latin name means “narrow leafed” in reference to its slender petal shape.
English lavender is an incredibly popular ornamental plant and has become synonymous with the quintessential English country garden. These shrubs can grow up to 2 meters in height, and their dreamy coloring and bushy texture make them favorites for garden borders and flower beds.
However, lavender is not just loved for its aesthetic beauty. No, the fragrant petals have been used for centuries in herbal remedies, perfumes, cosmetics and cookery.
English lavender belongs to the Lamiaceae plant family and there are many different varieties and hybrids of English lavender and it is a favorite among cultivators and horticulturalists. The following are some of the most popular English lavender varieties.
This variety was originally bred by Munstead Nurseries Ltd. in the United Kingdom. It has a compact habit that makes it ideal for use as a ground cover or edging plant. This dwarf variety grows only 1-2 feet tall, making it perfect for small garden borders.
The Sarah variety was developed at the Royal Horticulture Society in London, UK. Its flowers are very similar to those of Munstead but they are slightly smaller. They are also more upright than the Munstead variety.
This variety was developed at the University of California, Davis. It is one of the tallest varieties available today. Sovereign has a strong, upright growth habit that makes it perfect for use as a specimen plant or large border plant.
This variety was bred at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, UK. Lady Lavender is a hybrid between Munstead and Sovereign. It produces beautiful, dark blue flowers and has a strong, upright growing habit.
This variety was first introduced by the RHS in 1996. It is a cross between Munstead and Sovereign and it produces deep blue flowers. It is a vigorous grower that reaches heights of about 3 feet.
This variety was created by crossing Sarah and Lady Lavender. White Dwarf produces white flowers that are much larger than those produced by either parent. It is a good choice for use as a cut flower because of its size and color.
This variety was selected from a group of plants grown in a nursery in North Wales. Compacta is a dwarf variety that grows only 1 foot tall. It produces medium sized, light violet flowers.
This variety was discovered in the wild on the slopes of Mount Folgate in Cornwall, UK. It was initially thought to be a form of English Lavender, however further research revealed that it was actually a new species. Dwarf Folgate is a very short-lived perennial that only lives for two years.
This variety was found growing wild near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK. It is a very rare example of a true native English Lavender. Cultivars are often shorter lived than other types of lavender, so this variety may only live for two seasons.
Dwarf Hidcote Pink
Hidcote Pink was bred by Dr. John Dower of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). He crossed the dwarf blue variety with the Munstead variety. The result is a pink flowering plant that is dwarfed like the Munstead.
Dwarf Hidcote Superior
This variety was also bred by Dr. John Dowler and it is a cross between Hidcote Pink and Munstead. It is a taller version of Hidcote Pink.
Dwarf Nana Atropurpurea
Nana Atropurpurea is a cultivar of English Lavender that was developed by Dr. John Doweler at the RHS. It is a dwarf variety that can reach heights of only 1 foot. It produces purple flowers.
Dwarf Lady Of The Lake
This variety was named after the Lake District region where it was found growing wild. It is an extremely hardy variety and will survive temperatures down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40° C). In addition, it can withstand saltwater spray.
Dwarf Red Tower
Red Tower was originally found growing in the Red Tower garden in Gloucestershire, England. It is a very hardy variety that can tolerate cold weather and salt water spray.
Swarfs Jessica And Sarah
These two varieties were discovered growing wild in the mountains of southern Scotland. They are both very hardy varieties and they can withstand extreme cold and high winds.
Dwarf Nana Rosea
Rosea is another cultivar of English Lavender that was developed by Dr John Dowler at the RHS. Like most of his other cultivars, it is a dwarf variety that reaches heights of only 1 foot or less. It produces bright red flowers.
Dwarf Summerland Supreme
Summerland Supreme was developed by Dr. Peter Moore at the RHS. He used dwarfing rootstock to create a new cultivar of English Lavender. This variety has been shown to grow up to 2 feet tall. It produces large, deep purple flowers.
A Note On Dwarfing
There are many different ways to make your own lavender shrubs more compact. One way is to prune them regularly. Another method is to graft the stems onto dwarfing rootstocks such as ‘Munstead’. These methods help reduce the height of the lavender but do not affect the growth rate.
There are some dwarfing varieties available commercially. However, these varieties have been hybridized specifically for their dwarfing qualities. Therefore, you should avoid using them if you want to grow a truly unique specimen of English Lavender.
The following are examples of semi-dwarf cultivars that are commonly sold by nurseries. They tend to grow to between 20 and 24 inches in width and height when they reach maturity.
Bowles Early was first introduced in 1885. It was created from a cross between the Blue Mountain and White Queen varieties. It is a semi-dwarf variety that grows about 3 feet tall. Its flowers are pale greenish-blue.
Loddon Blue was first introduced in 1892. It is a semi dwarf blue variety that grows up to 20 inches tall. It has an intense fragrance and comes into its own in late summer.
Roderick was first introduced in 1905. It is a semi dwarfed blue variety that grows up 6 inches tall. It has strong perfume and comes into bloom in late spring.
Davis was first introduced in 1908. It is a semi Dwarf blue variety that grows up 7 inches tall. It has medium strength perfume and quintessential lilac lavender flowers.
Cascade was first introduced in 1912. It is a semi Dwarfed blue variety that grows about 8 inches tall. It has stronger perfume than Jean Davis and narrow leaves.
Bristol Blue was first introduced in 1913. It is a semi advanced blue variety that grows up 10 inches tall. It has intense perfume.
Blue Mountain was first introduced in 1918. It is a semi advanced blue variety that reaches heights of 12 inches. It has strong perfume and is one of the best known varieties.
Twickle Purple was first introduced in 1919. It is a semi advanced purple variety that grows up to 15 inches tall. It has very strong perfume and is a great addition to any rock garden.
Pink Perfume was first introduced in 1920. It is a semi Advanced purple variety that grows up 20 inches tall. It has extremely strong perfume and does best in well-drained soils. As you might well guess, it has pink flowers.
White Queen was first introduced in 1921. It is a semi dwarf variety with a white flower that grows up 25 inches tall. It has weak perfume.
Alba was first introduced in 1926. It is a giant white variety that grows up to 30 inches tall. It has no scent and a relatively short bloom time.
This cultivar was first introduced in 1931. It is a giant purple variety that grows up 50 inches tall. It has a strong scent and silvery leaves.
Flamingo was first introduced in 1933. It is a giant pink variety that grows up to 40 inches tall. It has little or no scent.
Honeycomb was first introduced in 1935. It is a giant violet variety that grows up to 60 inches tall. It has light scent
Biostos Giant was first introduced in 1937. It is a giant biostophytum variety that grows up to 80 inches tall. It has a moderate scent.
Bridestowe is a large, dark purple variety that grows up 90 inches tall. It has a heavy scent.
Graves Giant Lavender
Graves Giant Lavender was first introduced in 1938. It is a giant lavender variety that grows up to 100 inches tall. It has a good scent.
Gray Lady Giant Lavender
Gray Lady Giant Lavender was first released in 1939. It is a giant black variety that grows up to 120 inches tall. It has an excellent scent.
Anley was first introduced in 1940. It is a giant green variety that grows up to 150 inches tall. It has a great scent thanks to its fragrant flowers.
English Lavender is a beautiful and much sought after garden shrub. It is thought to have calming and relaxing effects that help to aid sleep and dispel anxiety.
Lavender crushed petals are often kept in pouches and potpourri bowls at people’s bedsides, as well as in pillow sprays and aromatherapy infusions. Quality lavender oil is said to have soothing properties and is therefore used to treat burns and wounds.
Of course, there are also beautiful varieties of Spanish lavender and French lavenders as well. Whether you are looking for a burst of purple in your flower beds, or a calming aroma in your home, these flowers are the ideal choice.
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