Life

Gardening: Tips to help you to cut and dry lavender for scent and decoration indoors

Cut the whole stalk when the flowers are showing colour but not fully opened

ANYONE who wants to add colour and scent from the garden to their indoor pot pourri should be harvesting their lavender now. Here's what to do...

1. Get the timing right: The whole stalk needs cutting when the flowers are showing colour but are not fully opened.

2. Dry it off: Tie the stalks in loose bundles and hang them in a greenhouse or warm shed to dry, or spread them on trays in the airing cupboard for a few days.

3. Choose your use: When the plants are completely dry, either keep the stalks on and use them in flower arrangements, or rub the flower buds free of the stalks and add them to your potpourri or to make lavender bags which can be used inside drawers to make your clothes smell fresh.

A good choice of lavender for harvesting is Lavandula angustifolia 'Imperial gem', which is highly decorative as well as aromatic and ideal for planting near a path at the front of the border.

Lavender is an easy plant to grow as it requires little watering during the summer months and thrives in any well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.

The bushy stems and grey green leaves are perfect for creating low hedges to garden paths. And you don't have to just have purple because there are white, pink and blue varieties.

Old English lavender grows to around 90cm (3ft) with grey-blue flowers. Go for 'Hidcote', which will give you deep violet flowers. If you fancy pink for a change, go for 'Loddon Pink'.

4. Tidy up in spring: To improve overall appearance, cut back the previous year's growth to new shoots within 5-10cm (2-4in) of the ground in early or mid spring, just as new growth starts.

Lavender is not the only aromatic plant which can be harvested for potpourri at this time of year. Gather and dry the flowers of colourful herbs such as marigold, hyssop, chamomile and dill, which will add fragrance and colour to your bowl.

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