Munstead lavender has a well-earned reputation as tough, reliable, heavily scented and floriferous. It is one of the most popular members of our range of English lavender plants - being probably the second best selling lavender in the UK after Hidcote. It is the epitome of a lavender with a well-proportioned spike of lilac-blue flowers that are a softer more powdery colour than the deeper purple of Hidcote Lavender and that distinctive scent that is now part of our olfactory culture. The leaves are aromatic too, slightly longer than Hidcote, and the same variable greyish green that can appear silvery in some lights. Pruned correctly, Munstead forms lots of shoots so that unlike most plants capable of surviving the hottest Mediterranean summers, it looks soft and fresh and verdant. This trait proves useful when planted close together because the leaves soon interweave to form a hedge with the flowers upright and coloured above like a layer of purple gauze over a silver petticoat.
PLEASE NOTE: Delivery of lavender is weather dependent. In a warm spring we start shipping as early as April but if the weather is cold it can slip into May. There is nothing to be gained from trying to plant it out before nighttime temperatures rise consistently. The shock simply sets it back and it will establish more slowly and flower less well than lavender planted when everything is warmer. P9 lavenders are never shipped before the beginning of May in any event. If you are not happy with these timings, please order elsewhere - we guarantee our plants and like to see them do well.
Well, in fact, Munstead requires little minding. Lavenders are the superheroes of the garden being almost indestructible with their ability to tolerate drought or stony soil, be immune to disease and to 'give back' the whole year round. And Munstead is top of the class in all respects. It will frame any number of herbaceous perennials - Achilleas, Peonies, Penstemons - but is renowned for combining with roses. It associates particularly well with yellow, orange or white roses like Fruhlingsgold or Jacqueline du Pre or Grace. But its drama lies in being grown as a hedge, especially along a path of grey stone or gravel where it intercedes between hard and soft landscaping and merges the two so that the effect is seamless. In fact, in order to satisfy lavender's need for warmth, you can grow it surrounded by dark slate which will absorb and reflect the heat of the sun and make it feel right at home. Lavender is often regarded as a herb being part of the medicinal and culinary pharmacopoeia and as such has a rightful place in the herb garden along with all the other wonderful smells and colours that pertain to Mediterranean herbs. There is an art to keeping lavender going year in and year out and preventing it from becoming woody. Cut it back by two thirds in the second half of August once the flowers have faded. Nowadays the experts say that if necessary you can even cut into the bare wood if you do it at this time because our warm autumns mean that the new shoots that will quickly arise at the base of the bush will have enough time to grow and harden up before winter comes. And if you want to be sure that your lavender will combine and follow on from the main flush of June roses then you can delay its flowering time by giving it another quick and very light trim in April.
Munstead Wood was the garden created by Gertrude Jekyll and, unusually, it came before the house designed by Edwin Lutyens that sits in it. Jekyll was a masterful plantswoman and grew and bred her own plants to her exacting standards, studying habit, culture, form and colour. These she would then use in her garden designs which embraced the precepts of the Arts and Crafts movement as exemplified by William Morris.