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LAVENDER

11 Aug
Whether you are going to Norfolk or Provence,France or simply stay in Ealing you will see enjoy the pleasure of Lavender.
When I noticed the display  of lavender planted outside Perceval House( now freshly planted)  it mischievously  crossed my mind   whether it was to create a calming aroma before entering the building to pay for a parking fine or dispute a housing problem!
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Lavender (Lavandula) is an easy to grow, evergreen shrub that produces masses of beautifully scented flowers above green or silvery-grey foliage. This drought-tolerant plant thrives in a sunny border, on a balcony, in a container or herb garden.
imageA few years ago I planted a lavender hedge around a fountain in France and it has provided  a perfect place to relax on a summers evening; the buzz of the worker bees, the sound of the water from the fountain aswell as the intoxicating aroma of the lavender. Not only is it easy to grow but looks attractive and as the flowers fade they can be collected, dried and bunches hung or made into lavender pillows. Mixed with dried hops a good nights sleep has been proclaimed by several sufferers of insomnia or making an eyepad with a mixture flax seeds and lavender is perfect for relaxing especially when doing yoga ( my daughter tells me) Similarly,  an  infusion of flower-heads added to a cup of boiling water is used to sooth and relax at bedtime
A recent clinical study investigated anxiolytic effects and influence on sleep quality. Lavender oil with a high percentage of linalool and linalyl acetate, in the form of capsules, was generally well tolerated. It showed meaningful efficacy in alleviating anxiety and related sleep disturbances.
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Bunches of lavender repel insects and I always hang a bunch in the spare bedrooms or put in drawers.
The local bee keepers are happy to have a supply when I cut it back to disinfect their hives and deter unwanted insects.
imageThey assure me the nectar the bees obtain from the lavender flowers improves the flavour and adds to the healing properties of the honey in uninflected wounds.
Lavender oil may be very effective with wounds; however, Lavender Honey (created from bees feeding on lavender plants), instead of lavender essential oil has the best effects of uninfected wounds.
Interestingly, lavender  essential oil was used in hospitals during World War I.
Lavender oil (or extract of Lavender) is used to treat acne when diluted 1:10 with water, rosewater, or witch hazel; it also treats skin burns and inflammatory conditions.
Lavender is used extensively with herbs and aromatherapy
Though it has many other traditional uses in southern France, lavender is not used in traditional southern French cooking. It does not appear at all in the best-known compendium of Provençal cooking, J.-B. Reboul’s Cuisinière Provençale.  In the 1970s, a herb blend called herbes de Provence usually including lavender was invented by spice wholesalers, and lavender has more recently become popular in cookery.
Lavender lends a floral and slightly sweet flavour to most dishes, and is sometimes paired with sheep’s-milk and goat’s-milk cheeses. For most cooking applications the dried buds (also referred to as flowers) are used, though some chefs experiment with the leaves as well. Only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender, from which the scent and flavour of lavender are best derived.image
Both lavender syrup and dried lavender buds are used to make lavender scones and marshmallows and I have made very tasty ice-cream.
My job on my next visit will be to prune the hedge and  put to good use last years dried seeds.
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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in Training and Advice

 

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