PROPERTY GUIDE | GARDENING
FOREIGN LANGUAGE NEWS 113
Canary Island lavender
Purple paradise Photo: Marian Florinel
Lavender is widely used in herbal medicine, beauty products and aromatherapy (Photo: Mareefe at Pexels)
fern-like foliage and delicate blue-violet flowers. A mature specimen can reach 75cm high and have a spread of 60cm, so it’s a good size for most plots. It’s also perfect for beginner gardeners or those with little time, as it’s low maintenance and tolerant of a wide range of conditions. In addition, butterflies, bees and other insects love it, so it’s great for encour-
Photo: S. Rae from Scotland, UK (CC 2.0, commons.wikimedia)
Lavandula canariensis, otherwise known as Canary Island lavender, is a species of this pretty purple plant that is endemic to the archipelago. Extremely tolerant of high temperatures, lavender can be a great addition to any garden, needing limited care and providing a splash of colour most of the year round. It’s a tender evergreen plant with fine,
Canary Island lavender is a common sight around the archipelago
aging wildlife into the garden, including healthy predators.
Going violet Being a sun-lover, Canary Island lavender is a great choice for hot mountain gardens, but will also grow nicely at coastal level. Its natural environment tends to be on the dry side, with rocky, poor-
medium soil, which is usually neutral to alkaline. Excellent drainage is an absolute must for the plant wherever it is. Replicating conditions similar to these is important if you want to see healthy growth. The ideal time for sowing from fresh seed is late summer or autumn, though early spring will also suffice. Once they are ready, plant seedlings between 45cm and 60cm apart if positioning several specimens together. Alternatively, you can grow in large containers (lavender has long, deep roots), just make sure you provide plenty of that all-important drainage. Feed weekly throughout the growing season, using a highnitrogen organic feed, such as seaweed, if possible. Water well throughout summer, but reduce during winter, as one thing lavender will not tolerate is a constantly wet soil: The roots will quickly rot and the damp will encourage fungal infections. If your plant begins to wilt and display yellowing of the leaves, this could be a sign that you are overdoing it. Cut back on the water for a couple of weeks to see if the plant improves. If it continues
Photo: Brigitte Tohm at Pexels
Wildlife love all types of lavender
The plant’s fern-like foliage and delicate blue-violet flowers are often used dried
to deteriorate, the roots may have rotted. If so, cut the plant right back and gently ease it out of the pot. If there are any healthy roots left, cut away all the rest and replace the lavender in the pot – you may be able to save your plant in this way, though growth will be stunted for a while. Other than that, all they should need is a tidying prune after the main flowering season is over.
Medicinal Uses Lavandula canariensis has long been used in traditional medicine around the Canary Islands and is well known for its heal-
ing properties. It is said to reduce fevers, get rid of parasites, treat digestive problems, and be an effective skin disinfectant. Lavender in general has also been used as a relaxant, can apparently reduce anxiety and muscle pain, and is an anti-inflammatory. Its antiseptic properties make it useful for calming insect bites, small wounds, stings and minor burns, as well as fighting fungal infections. Many even swear by it for reducing the effects of insomnia and depression, as well as toothaches, headaches and digestive problems. It also makes a wonderful air freshener. Simply dry flowering stems by laying them out on open trays or hanging small bunches upside down in a dark, airy room. Place around the house in vases for a wonderful display, mix into potpourri, or sew into mini cushions. In addition, lavender is highly regarded for its multiple uses in the beauty industry, and is a common ingredient in products such as creams, fragrances and shampoos to n help purify the skin.
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