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The history of 'English' Lavender

It feels as though no English garden is complete without some aromatic Lavender amongst the flowers. Lavender may not be native to the UK, but it has earned its place here in the English garden over many centuries of use and is beloved by gardeners in the UK. But how did it get here?

A field of purple lavender with a tree and a field in the distance
Lavender field, Kent

It is indigenous to the Mediterranean and western Europe, but when early travellers brought it back to their homelands the plant spread rapidly to other countries.

Lavender is thought to have been introduced to the UK by the Romans. They were known to have travelled with a ‘first aid kit’ comprised of various herbs, so wherever they went and settled herbs would be grown and cultivated. The water of Roman baths was scented with lavender - the word lavender itself is derived from the word lavandum which means ‘fit for washing’.

a field of rows of purple lavender
Lavender field

It’s use in medicine is likely the reason for it being so commonly grown in English gardens. For hundreds of years it has been grown for its soothing and healing properties, as well as its ability to deter insects; it is still used today as a moth repellent.

The scent of lavender - one of the reasons it is still so well loved today - meant that it was used during the Great Plague of 1665, when it was burnt in halls, homes and churches to try and clean the air and remove bad smells. The price of Lavender and other herbs increased at this time as people were thought to have believed it protected them from catching the plague.

a field of purple lavender
Purple lavender field

Even during the First World War, when medical supplies found it difficult to meet demand, Lavender was used by housewives in the UK to make a dressing for wounds, using Lavender oil and moss.

At the end of the Second World War, Lavender famers in London, Mitcham, Carshalton and Wallington struggled with rising land values, and many of these farms were given up for urban development.

A black and white picture of two men working in a lavender field
Workers in a London lavender field

Many English lavender farms still exist today, however, and it’s a wonderful summer activity for garden lovers and flower lovers to visit these beautiful purple lavender fields.

While its origins may have been in the mediterranean, we English gardeners hold Lavender dear to our hearts and it is a mainstay of the English garden.

Lavender is popular with insects as well as us humans - it's a brilliant plant to use to attract bees and butterflies to the garden in summer time.

A bee on some purple Lavender
A bee on some purple Lavender

These days Lavender is pure indulgence - the gorgeous scent, the pretty flowers in the garden. We may use it in scented soaps, bubble bath, or lavender sachets for your drawers, or perhaps a nice cup of Lavender tea.

here are some lovley english lavender fields you could visit this summer to get your Lavender fix.

South-west England

Cotswold Lavender - Cotswold Hills

Somerset Lavender - near Bath

South-east England

Mayfield Lavender - North Surrey Hills

Hitchin Lavender - Hertfordshire

Norfolk Lavender - Norfolk

Kentish Lavender - Kent

The Lavender Fields - Hampshire

Northern England

Yorkshire Lavender - York

Lavender is most commonly associated with love, devotion, purity and grace. It is often seen as a flower of serenity and it used in many religious ceremonies. It can be given as a gift, in which case it symbolises new adventures and opportunities.

If you are a Lavender lover, head over to the shop now and see the wonderful lavender products we have on offer.

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22. okt. 2023

I really love lavender scent and test. there is a wonderful hot coffee made with lavender flowers and some pudding also made with lavender, it's really testy and delicious.

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