In South Africa, one of our most popular lavender cultivars was named Lavandula intermedia after our very own lavender queen, Margaret Roberts. Her love affair with lavender started years ago when she had to keep the pot boiling as a young mother by selling bunches of fresh lavender and today she still researches new cultivars. When you visit her herb centre at De Wildt outside Pretoria, masses of flowering lavender take your breath away – even in winter – and in the herb centre’s shop the fragrance of lavender hangs in the air like an aromatic cloud. Here are some of our very own aromatic ideas:
Tie any kind of fresh or dried lavender twigs, leaves and flowers into a piece of muslin and hang it under the tap when you run a bath or let the bag float in the water. This will do wonders for sore muscles and calm an agitated mind.
Make a heavenly pillow for a good night’s rest by filling a small cotton pillowcase with any type of dried lavender and polyester filling, together with a few drops of lavender oil. You can also simply tie fresh or dried lavender flowers in a piece of muslin and place it under your pillow before you go to sleep.
Flavour sugar or honey with fresh Lavandula intermedia ‘Grosso’ or Lavandula intermedia ‘Margaret Roberts’ flowers and use this in anything from tea and coffee to puddings and on pancakes. Add the flowers to a sugar container that seals tightly and let it stand aside for a week. Repeat the process with fresh flowers until you are satisfied with the flavour and then keep the sugar for use in the kitchen. Flavour honey by placing fresh lavender flowers in it. Put the container in warm water for half an hour and then leave it to stand for a few days before you remove the flowers.
Insect repellent and air freshener
Use any type of lavender leaves and flowers to keep insects away. Simply break the flowers and leaves, rub them together to release the fragrance, and put them in bowls in the room. You can also rub fresh flowers and leaves inside cupboards and on tables and doors to keep flies and mosquitoes away and give the house a lovely fragrance.
Cook Lavandula intermedia ‘Grosso’ flowers with rice and serve with chicken. You can also use the same lavender cultivar in rice-based stir-fries.
Add fresh or dried Lavandula intermedia ‘Grosso’ flowers to pancake or flapjack batter, or to your favourite muffin or sweet biscuit batter.
Pour boiling water over fresh Lavandula intermedia ‘Margaret Roberts’ flowers and let it brew. You won’t have to add milk or sugar and at bedtime this tea will relax you tremendously.
Fresh flower vases
Add a lavender branch to floral arrangements to prevent the water from becoming slimy and smelly.
Words and image: Home magazine