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Lavender is a timeless classic. A versatile and resilient plant that continues to charm generations after generations. If you ever regarded it as 'old fashioned' and only relevant to cottage style gardens or granny's lavender bag think again.

Jan Constantine Lavender hearts

In this series of blogs (it's a series because we have so much content to share with you!) we hope to shine a fresh light on Lavender and show it in some very different contexts  and perspectives. We love it and suspect most of you out there do too but sometimes it gets cast aside as an 'oldy'. We believe that Lavender has so many qualities and applications that it remains a relevant plant of our time, a contemporary plant. Anyway, what's wrong with being a little old fashioned? We think 'vintage' is the name it deserves and after we unravel some of its mysteries, chart its histories and hopefully suprise you with some of its uses we hope that you will fall in love or stay in love with Lavender for a long time. 

Lavender scones via Allotment 2 Kitchen

From the Sequim Lavender Festival

So what's on the menu?

Modern : Lavender planted in contemporary contexts and styles

Tradition : Global cultivation of Lavender and it's specific uses

Medicinal : Lavender's healing power

Identification : Grower's guide - that means your garden... with hundreds of varieties out there we simplify the types and break them down in to suitabilty for growing in your garden conditions.

Folklore & superstition : Lavender tales old & new

Harvesting : Inspiration and how to's.

Origins : Lavender's history charted in the UK right up to it's current situation.

Culinary : Lavender from your garden used in new and  'passed down' recipes

Now that we have hopefully enticed you in with some lovely Lavendery images it's time to start the journey... 

So first up : it's Bees

"Many people feel enthusiastic about helping honey bees in their current decline, but they often do not know how. One way you can help is by growing bee-friendly plants in you garden. Accordingly, organisations such as the Royal Horticultural Society and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust have published lists of recommended bee-friendly garden plants. However, these lists are largely based on anecdotes; for example, few people who have grown lavender in their gardens would deny that it is very attractive to bees. The aim of this project is to scientifically assess the value of garden plants to honey bees and other pollinators.

Previous LASI research has shown that late summer and autumn are difficult times for honey bees to find forage, as opposed to spring, when most plants are blooming. Therefore, lavender was chosen for its late flowering period. Fourteen popular varieties of lavender to be tested in this experiment were recommended by Downderry Nursery (holders of the National Lavender Collection)."

So why does Lavender = Calm? Folklore or Fact?

From Anderra.co.ukThe molecules of lavender essential oil are light and very small – one drop of lavender essential oil contains 40,000,000,000,000,000,000 (40 million-trillion) molecules. When applied to the skin, the tiny molecules in the lavender oil are easily absorbed into the skin and then filtered into the blood stream.

When inhaled, the smell receptors in your nose catch the essential oil molecules. These receptors send impulses along nerve fibres which end in the centre of the brain.

To stop harmful substances reaching the brain, we have a blood-brain barrier. This barrier is a fine membrane (a bit like a sieve) that separates the central nervous system from the blood stream. This barrier only allows very small molecules through. Lavender oil contains molecules small enough to penetrate this barrier.

Studies with brain wave frequency have shown that the scent of lavender increases alpha waves in the back of the head – alpha waves are a type of brain activity that occurs when someone is in a quiet resting state.

Lavender oil is a sesquiterpene. Sesquiterpene molecules carry oxygen molecules to cells. People are frequently told to take deep breaths for relieving nerves and anxiety.

There has also been extensive research in to and the application of lavender oils to treat and rehabilate dogs with central nervous systems disorders and anxiety disorders.

But more on that in the next Lavender blogs.

to be continued... we hope you are feeling a bit more of the Lavender 'vibe'  we are sending out by now! Part II will follow this weekend. Make sure you are sitting comfortably for it -it might even make you feel quite relaxed. Remember, Lavender = calm...  see you then.

    

The Comeback Kid: The Lavender Blogs images Sourcebook: Jan Constantine, Daisy Green, Allotment 2 Kitchen, Hendy Curzon Gardens Ltd, offline, Mommyhood project, Rosy Rings, Perfeco, Herb Companion, Levandrea, Fabulously French, Cambridge New, Anderra, Rythmn of the home, Mohini patel Glanz, Blue Heron Herbary, Live lighter, Savarosa, Sequim Lavender Festival,.