I was once told by a successful artist that choosing a poor frame for a picture, is the equivalent of getting exquisitely dressed up for a party and not wearing any make-up. The frame is the piece to the puzzle that makes your picture standout and chosen correctly can massively enhance a painting.
I think this same analogy can also be used for a garden. Lavender is a beautiful framer for any border and enriches the colours and plants it surrounds.
I am certainly not a professional gardener but I do see my small cottage style garden, as an extension to my home - and it must be pretty, fragrant and admired.
Lavender provides me with exceptional value. It is a highly versatile plant and exceptionally long flowering. However, for me, its principal beauty is in its magnificent blue and purple shades, coupled by its pungent scent that creates a feast for ones eyes and senses.
I guess one cannot write about lavender without mentioning one of its greatest appeals - it attracts our beloved bees and butterflies. Just the icing on the cake!
There are certainly some do nots when planting and caring for lavender. It loves to be sunny and dry. I normally trim mine back after flowering in the autumn and then again in the Spring. If you attack it too savagely (a mistake I have made in the past) it dies. Trimming it back is vital though, as otherwise it becomes very leggy.
Choosing the right variety of plant is also a key factor. For years, I had rather non-descript lavender in my garden; it always looked limp and a bit dejected. However, the varieties sold by Ashridge have truly flourished, even in the less sunny parts of the garden. There is a richness to their colour and as for the scent – awesome.
When I was younger, I holidayed many times in Provence in Southern France - the home of lavender. Here, this stunning plant literally grows in fields like lush purple and blue carpets and once seen, this image can never be forgotten. I guess in my small garden, I’m trying to re-create a little bit of that Provençal magic that is so evocative of everything we love about summer.
Throughout the year I try to keep this portrait alive and on a dreary English winters day, it is hard not to lose valuable hours, daydreaming about that high summer wonderland and all it arouses. Just writing this makes me yearn for midsummer and yes; my lavender is my small garden's crowning glory.