There are many varieties of lavender, which is a close relative of the common mints. Here at Windy Hills we grow several varieties: Lavendula x. intermedia Provence, used as a spice and flavoring for cooking; Lavendula angustifolia Royal Velvet, prized for its velvety dark purple buds; Lavendula angustifolia Buena Vista, a new variety that blooms twice a year; Lavendula angustifolia Vera, Lavendula x. intermedia Grosso, grown for its lovely aroma and long stems. Grosso produces a high oil content making it a wonderful variety for distilling. All these varieties are cold hardy and thrive on our high altitude farm.
History: Lavender has been used in many ways for over 2,500 years. In the gospel of St. Luke, lavender is referred to by the name spikenard and was used mainly for medicinal purposes; and its essential oil may be the oil with which Mary Magdalene washed the feet of Jesus. Lavender was used in the mummification of Egyptian kings. Cleopatra supposedly used lavender when she seduced Marc Antony. The early Romans scented their baths with lavender; its name comes from the Latin “to wash”. Louis XIV of France loved bathing with lavender scented water, and Queen Elizabeth I of England used lavender everywhere and had a nightly cup of lavender tea in order to help her sleep. Europeans believed lavender would help ward off the plague – and since it repels fleas, it probably did! Lavender was strewn on the floors of castles to scent the air. Lavender plants have been cultivated in Europe for hundreds of years, and the first lavender plants in America may have been brought over on the Mayflower in 1620.
Beneficial uses of lavender and its essential oil: As a culinary herb, lavender is just now becoming popular for the sweet flavor it imparts to meats, sauces, baked goods, drinks, and desserts. In many dishes it may be substituted for rosemary. We feel that the best variety for culinary use is Provence. The Grosso variety contains too much camphor to be good for cooking, and the Spanish lavenders should never be used. Other uses for lavender are legendary: It repels insects – fleas, mosquitoes, flies, and moths (and smells better than mothballs!). In fact, the only insect that likes lavender is the honey bee, which becomes sleepy and mellow while working a lavender field. Lavender also repels mice, and if you are a gardener, you’ll be pleased to note that deer, elk and mice will not eat the plants. Lavender is also used in aromatherapy to relax and soothe those stressed by modern pressures, and for massage. Medicinal uses of the essential oil include direct application to cuts, burns, and insect bites, and lavender may decrease the pain of colds, headaches, and arthritis. Lavender also appears in many cleansing products, deodorizers, and air fresheners. Lavender is used to scent many beauty products, from soaps and shampoos to lotions, perfumes, skin toners, and facial scrubs. And don’t forget those wonderful lavender-scented candles!
Disclaimer: The information presented here by Windy Hills Lavender Farm is intended for educational purposes only. It is NOT intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Call your doctor immediately if you think you may have a medical emergency.
Warnings: Like many other herbs, lavender is not recommended for use by women who are pregnant or nursing.