As fragrant as it is colourful, lavender is a wonderful addition to any sunny garden or container. It’s a hardy shrub that displays masses of beautiful purple-blue flowers in spring and summer that bees absolutely love! Lavender grows in at least 450 different varieties, and of these there are three main types: English, French and Spanish. Below we talk about some of the key differences between these three types so you can select which one will best suit your garden.
English lavender flowers take on various shades of purple, blue and white and are in bloom from late spring to mid-summer. The leaves are narrow with smooth edges, and the flowers take on various shades of purple, blue and white.
English lavender produces a high-quality oil that is most closely associated with the true “lavender” fragrance. It is also the most common variety of lavender used for culinary purposes, such as flavouring oils, butters and sugar.
English lavender varieties include Hidcote, Lady and Munstead
Also known as Fringed Lavender, this species is most often grown in pots or tubs and can be pruned into topiary shapes. French lavender forms a bushy shrub with grey-green, distinctive finely-toothed fragrant leaves, bearing short spikes of lavender-mauve flowers in midsummer.
French lavender has the ability to bloom for a long portion of the growing season, with flowers appearing in early spring and persisting throughout the warmer months.
This variety of lavender has a pleasant smell that is similar to that of rosemary and is very attractive to butterflies.
If you’d like to add French lavender varieties to your garden, look out for Lavender Dentata.
Spanish lavender is distinguished from other lavenders by its unusual flower blossoms. It produces an abundance of rich dark purple pine-cone shaped flowers that have dark-purple bracts, or “rabbit ears.”
Spanish lavender has strong stems with smooth, light-green foliage and performs best in full sun. It is a great choice for hedging, topiary work and for training as a standard.
Spanish lavender varieties include Major Avonview.