In the Fields
Although there are several different classifications of lavender, we primarily grow lavender cultivars from two classifications: lavandula x intermedia and lavandula angustifolia.
Lavandula x intermedia (also called Lavandins or French lavender)
Lavandins are a hybrid of Lavadula Angustifolia ("narrow leaf") and Lavandula Latifolia ("broad leaf"). The Angustifolia is known for its fragrance and the Latifolia (sometimes called spike lavender) is know for its tall spikes. Lavandins are often grown for their scent. Here's what's growing in the field now:
Gros Bleu (Lavandula x intermedia "gros bleu")
Gros Bleu is a dark blue (almost navy) colored lavandin with a clean, lavender scent. It dries beautifully and is good for bundles and wreaths, as well as sachets. It also yields a very lovely essential oil. Gros Bleu is a larger plant (36-40 inches across) with nice long stems (18-20 inches) and needs adequate spacing (2.5-3 ft between plants) to allow for air flow between the plants. It blooms in early summer, with an additional small late summer/early fall bloom if you're lucky.
Impress Purple (Lavendula x intermedia "Impress Purple")
With its long stems, rich purple color and strong scent, Impress Purple is a great lavender for fresh bouquets. It's a large plant, one of the largest, measuring between 36-42 inches across. Its stems are also very long, between 20-24 inches long. It blooms in early to mid summer. (Stock photo used until ours blooms next summer)
Grosso Lavender (Lavandula x intermedia "grosso")
Grosso is often grown commercially for its wonderful scent and is the lavender we use for our soaps, pillows, and sachets. It's a hardy lavender with grey/green foliage, nice long stems, and medium purple blooms, which arrive from early to mid summer.
Lavandula Angustifolia (also known as English lavender)
Angustifolia lavender is considered a "true" lavender as it isn't a hybrid. It is valued for its culinary uses, having a sweeter taste and smell than the lavadins. But it is also highly valued for its oil and buds for sachets. In general, this lavender is a slower grower than the hybrids and a smaller plant.
Royal Velvet (Lavendula Angustifolia "Royal Velvet")
Royal Velvet is another beautiful deep purple lavender that grows well in wetter climates. The color on this cultivar is just breathtaking. It is highly valued for its culinary uses in addition to being a beautiful fresh and dried flower. It measures 24-30 inches across on with 12-14 inch stems. It blooms twice -- late spring and late summer.
French Fields (Lavendula Angustifolia "French Fields")
French Fields is a beautiful bright purple lavender that blooms very early in the summer. I had one plant up by our house and I liked it so much that I took some cuttings and propagated 60 plants that I just put out in the field. French Fields is a culinary lavender, but it also looks very pretty as a fresh and dried flower. This lavender will also bloom twice if cut back in early summer.
Felice (Lavendula Angustifolia "Felice")
I am very excited for this addition to our farm. My wonderful mother's name was Felice and when I heard that there was a lavender of that name, of course I had to have it. It wasn't easy though. It is grown in England and a few other countries in Europe and just isn't available in the United States. Thankfully, the good folks at Van Hevelingen's nursery in Newburg had a few plants and were trying to propagate from cuttings, which they said they would share with me if the plants took. They must have gotten tired of my emails, checking up on the progress, but thankfully, some of the plants did take and I got 5 plants from Melissa Van Hevelingen last Spring. This Spring I got 60 more and they are now nestled snuggly in the field. I can hardly wait to see my field of Felice in bloom! (Note: Stock image until ours bloom)
Around the Farm (other lavenders we have grown or are growing)
Sweet Lavender (Lavandula heterophylla)
Sweet Lavender is a hybrid of Lavandula Angustifolia and Lavandula Dentata and is grown more for its beautiful tall flower spikes than its smell. It is a light purple that dries to a greyish-purple. In Escondido we usedthis lavender for our fresh bouquets, dried bundles, and wreathes. It is a large plant that produces flowers year-round in the San Diego area and needs to be thinned out or pruned continually. We haven't added this variety to our Oregon farm yet.
Hidcote Blue (Lavandula Angustifolia)
Hidcote does better in areas where the summers are milder, so we our plants struggled in our very hot Escondido summers. This is a variety we will add to our Oregon farm soon.
Munstead (Lavandula Angustifolia)
Munstead is another "true" lavender that is also valued for its oil, buds, and culinary uses. It is also a smaller plant and a slower grower.
French Lavender (Lavandula dentata)
Lavendula detanta is commonly referred to as French Lavender but actually originated in Spain so it is sometimes referred to as Spanish Lavender. But it's not Spanish Lavender. I'm really not sure why it's called French Lavender since the lavender we most often associate with the French countryside are the English Lavenders, like Provence Lavender. Confusing, I know. French lavender has a pretty fat spike and green serrated leaves (the dentata part of its name refers to the latin term (dente) for teeth). French lavender blooms year-round in mild climates so it's nice to have in the garden, but it doesn't have the same scent as other lavenders -- it's much milder.
Spanish Lavender (Lavandula Stoechas)
Lavendula stoechas is often referred to as Spanish Lavender. But it can be distinguished from other lavenders by the little "rabbit ears" that protrude from the top of the bloom. This is a very hardy lavender that propagates readily in some parts of the world -- sometimes to the point of becoming invasive. In fact, in Australia it's considered an invasive species and a weed. Like the dentata, it's not as well known for its fragrance as the English lavenders. But it can be dried and used for potpourri or used in cooking for meats (it's not as sweet as some of the other culinary lavenders so it isn't used in desserts).