Loving and using lavender is only one of my garden activities. Caring for and taking pictures of lavender and other flowers has kept me sane and peaceful during this shut-in time. It appears my kidney transplant may happen soon, but as I wait, I indulge in lavender therapy. Lavender scent soothes babies, fosters sleep and relaxation, and it boosts my morale.

Growing a bountiful crop of lavender

A lush crop of lavender

This has been the most lush lavender shrub we have ever enjoyed. We planted our bush two years ago and it fully came into its own this spring. Previously, we experienced some lavender failure due to roots that received too much water. This time before we planted the most recent bush, we included pea gravel at the bottom of its hole and amended our clay soil.

Reaping and using lavender

Lavender is delightful to see and smell. Furthermore, it is a fine food for our valuable honeybees. However, there are so many ways to use and enjoy lavender, it is a shame not to reap some. If you do not personally have lavender in your garden, there are numerous farms devoted to growing and selling this herb. In this blog, we are going to discuss preparing lavender for dried arrangements and for culinary use.

Harvesting and preparing lavender

First you must choose a dry, sunny day. It is best to harvest lavender which you intend to dry at ten o’clock so that any dew from the previous night will have evaporated. If you try to dry damp plants, they will mold. It is best to choose stems with unopened buds, because the blooms are fragile and will fall away once dried.

Stems of lavender with unopened buds
Harvest lavender stems with unopened buds

Once you have cut your long stems of lavender, you should sort them by size and by purpose. Next you will strip all leaves from the stems or the leaves will mold when you bundle them.

Sorted Lavender stems
Sort the lavender stems according to size and purpose
Strip all leaves from the stems.

I selected the very longest stems for an attractive arrangement called a lavender bottle. Additionally, I set aside shorter stems for conventional bundles of lavender to use in arrangements. I also harvested some lavender buds and removed them from their stems. These will be used for cooking and baking.

Making a lavender bottle

To create this charming way of presenting lavender, you must select between 35-40 stems. You will have already gathered twine, scissors, and a rubber band.

Gather the stems together and tie twine underneath the blossoms.

Twine tied underneath the blossoms.
Twine tied underneath lavender blossoms.

Next you will bend the stems one at a time over the blossoms. Rotate the bundle as you go, placing the stems on the outside first. Work your way around bending the inner stems last.

Lavender stems bent over the blossoms
Lavender stems bent over the blossoms.

Once all stems are gathered and bent over the blossoms, bind them with the rubberband. Cut another length of twine to hang the bottle to dry. Choose a dry, dark, airy place to dry the lavendar bottle. Trim the tops of the lavender stems until even and tidy.

Hand holding the top of the lavender bottle.
Gather the stems, enclosing the blossoms.

Allow the lavender bottle to dry for two weeks. Tie a decorative ribbon around the top and create a ribbon or raffia loop for hanging. Keep your bottle out of direct sunlight or hot air.

A lavender bottle and conventional bundles of lavender
The lavender bottle is complete–only its rubber band at the top remains to be placed. Notice the similar old lavender wand. We enjoyed it for years, but now it will be replaced.

Lavender bundles

As you can see, I again used rubber bands to bind the bundles of lavender. As the stems dry and shrink, the rubber bands will still hold them together. Twine is ineffective because it becomes loose as the stem shrink and the lavender will fall and become damaged. Again hang these in a dry, dark, airy place. Once you use them in an arrangement — again, you will want to avoid exposing them to heat, wind, and bright light.

Bundles of lavender
Lavender bundles bound with rubber bands

Using and Eating Lavender?

Yes, it can be done and it is delightful. First, you must dry your lavender buds. I cut off the blossom heads and spread them on a cookie sheet lined with paper towel. I will leave them in a dry, dark, airy, unused guest room for two weeks. They will be ready in a few days. Next month, I will show you how to dry and prepare herbs and lavender for Herbes de Provence for cooking and how to use lavender in baking.

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