Friday, May 26, 2017

Lavender Love

cut lavender stems and flowers

I cut the stems of two little lavender plants this morning.  Their fragrance fills the rooms of our home and it smells heavenly.  I love all lavender but the flowers of this particular plant are luscious.  They smell more beautiful, cleaner, and fresher than any I've grown before.  I wish you could smell them, too. 

I almost missed harvesting them.  It rained yesterday and it must be dry to cut lavender.  Thank goodness the sun was out this morning.  If I hadn't cut the stems this morning the buds would have opened by tomorrow.  When harvested after the flowers open they fall off the stems and are less fragrant after drying.

lavender bouquets, lavender baskets

I stripped the leaves and sorted the stems by length.  I was able to make five small bouquets to dry and two little lavender baskets.  The baskets are shorties, just 4" long, the smallest I've ever made.  I should have used narrower ribbon but I didn't have any.

lavender plant

Lavender season comes upon me all of a sudden.  I see the plants as I pass them coming and going in and out of the driveway but they don't seem to give much notice that they'll be ready to be harvested.  (Or maybe I don't pay close enough attention.)  It seems that overnight they turn from green to purple and then I have to put aside everything else and take care of them.  It creates a rush that belies the calmness lavender creates when one is preparing the stems for drying.

honeysuckle vines and flowers

When I was cutting the lavender this morning there was another fragrance that was even stronger:  the honeysuckle that grows behind the lavender.  Its fragrance is sweet and strong.  They are unruly plants but I love them, too, and sometimes cut the flowers and vines and bring them inside.  Like lavender, their fragrance fills our home.

When people ask what my favorite flowers are I tell them lavender, honeysuckle, and lilac, all for the fragrance, plus columbine.  Not your common favorites, I guess.

Do you grow lavender and/or honeysuckle?  Do you love the fragrance of either or both?  Do you have a favorite flower because of its fragrance?



  1. Lilac tops the list of fragrant flowers, to me. Our 14 bushes didn't bloom much this year. We had thinned the old branches pretty mercilessly and they were in shock.
    I have a half dozen rose bushes that I love. I only choose varieties with a strong scent.
    I also grow lavender. Do you know which variety you grow? The plants I currently have are Hidcote. The color is deep and beautiful, but I don't know how they compare in fragrance. I bought these when my previous plants had to be dug up for a home repair. I'm not sure what kind I had before, but they were lighter colored.
    I love the lavender "baskets" you made. I haven't done those in years. And I know them by the name "lavender wands".
    I'm not sure if honeysuckle grows around here.

    1. Hi, Janet. We don't currently have a lilac but at our old house we did. You probably know they have to be trimmed immediately after flowering or you cut off the buds for next year's growth? Our lilac was only about 10 or 12 years old so I don't really have much experience with lilac bushes. Just know I love them!

      I haven't succeeded with roses. We have one climbing rose that does okay but not great. I think they need more tlc than I'm willing to give.

      I don't know which variety of lavender I have but I think it might be a Hidcote. They usually have darker flowers like this one. I've have heard them called lavender wands, too, but I like the idea of them being little baskets holding little, fragrant lavender buds. These are not the best I've made but I did want to make a few this year.

  2. We have some new lavender 'Hidcote' plants just about to come into flower. I'm really excited to see and sniff the flowers. Thank you for the tips on when to pick them. Incidently, if you are ever in the UK, the gardens at Hidcote are well worth a visit ☺

    1. Hi, Allison. I think the plants I have are probably Hidcote but I'm not sure. They are small with darker flowers than other lavenders. I hope you will love yours. When you cut the stems be sure there is no dew on them and try to do it before the morning sun shines too brightly on them. You probably already know to hang them by the stems to dry. The stems are stiff when you cut, then they go limp, and then they get stiff again when dried.

      I would love to visit England (home of my ancestors) and I'll remember Hidcote gardens if I ever come. Thanks for mentioning them.

  3. I love fragrant flowers, too. I have Tea Olive and gardenias. Lilacs are really hard to grow in the south. My lavender died in the drought last year. The little lavender baskets are charming. I have never seen them before. Here in the south honeysuckle is terribly invasive. As a child we used to pick the blossoms and suck the sweet nectar out.

    1. Hi, Jennie. I'm not acquainted with Tea Olive but gardenias smell beautiful, too. I wonder what makes lilacs hard to grow in southern states. Do they need a colder winter than you get? I'm sorry your lavender died. I always think of it as a hardy plant but maybe not drought-hardy.

      We have wild, bushy honeysuckle here in Ohio. It is a junk plant, in my opinion. It, too, is horribly invasive and as far as I can tell has no redeeming qualities: it doesn't have a fragrance or the beautiful vines that my cultivated plants have. I suppose your growing environment might allow my vining plant to become invasive, too. I've have heard of sucking the nectar from the blossoms but have never tried it. I'll have to check into that.

  4. I love lavender. I love the smell of most herbs, especially basil and rosemary. Wild honeysuckle grows out of control here. It smells heavenly, however, it isn't all that pretty when it takes over.

    1. Hi, Kevin. Ah, yes, to both basil and rosemary. Rosemary looks so similar to lavender but what a surprise to expect the scent of lavender and smell the pungent fragrance of rosemary! I like most other herbs, too. Have you ever smelled costmary?

      We have wild, invasive honeysuckle bushes here, too. I think of them as junk plants because they predominate the roadsides these days and the ones here don't have any fragrance at all.. My sweet vines, though, would never take over beyond the space I give them. In fact, I don't think they reseed, either.

  5. I love honeysuckle. I grew up with it and it smelled divine. It grows in my backyard here in Tennessee, but it has no fragrance! I never knew there was one that didn't smell sweet - I used to break off the flowers and suck out the nectar when I was little. Okay, maybe when I was big, too. =)

    1. Hi, Susan. I know that the invasive, wild honeysuckle does not have a fragrance. Also, it grows as a bush instead of a vine as the cultivated variety grows. Is that the kind that's growing in your yard? Yes to the wonderful smell on honeysuckle. I hope to smell it in heaven! I've never sucked the nectar. I'll have to learn how and give it a try.

  6. Now, with all of this technology at our hands, you would think that someone would have invented 'smellavision'. :) I agree with you on lilacs, honeysuckle, and lavender being favorite fragrant flowers. We have a huge lilac bush in the bunkhouse yard and the fragrance wafts across the entire ranch headquarters in the spring. Honeysuckle grew abundantly through our yard fence at one time, but the previous tenants killed everything that grew in this yard with a sterilizer and it is only after 12 years that I am able to begin growing anything back. The honeysuckle had probably been growing here for 40 years and I cried when we moved here and I saw all the dead vines woven throughout the fence. It took me weeks to cut it all out and it made me incredibly sad.

    1. Wouldn't that be a treat to have fragrances come through the computer or phone!

      Lucky you with a lilac, Karin. What a shame that the previous tenants killed the plants, especially the honeysuckle vines. I know some people (my husband included) don't have the same aesthetic for flowering plants and vines that others do (though my husband kindly puts up with them).

      I hope you're able to get honeysuckle vines growing again soon. It's a fast grower once it begins. And they're easy to start from cuttings. The ones we have around our house now were from cuttings taken at our previous house. Also, they can be cut back really hard -- to the ground, if necessary from some reason -- and grow back quickly.

      Twelve years is a long time for that sterilizer to keep hold!


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