In Love With Lavender
by Gale LaScala
If you're lucky, your lavender is now in glorious bloom. You have different shades of purple; from the munsteads to the dark purple hidcote (my new favorite). For some strange reason, I have TONS of lavender. It grows everywhere. It spreads all over and pops up in strange places--a crack in the driveway or a a patch of gravel. I started with a few plants in the front yard and now it's everywhere. I'm surprised because I live in a harsh winter climate in the hills of Western MA and lavender usually doesn't do well here. Lavender luck? I guess so because I don't do anything special, I don't ever cut it back; I tried that once and I'll never do it again. I don't pamper it. I don't even cover it with mulch in the winter to protect it. Hmm, I sound like I'm a terrible gardener. I just let it do it's own thing. Yes, some of the orginal plants from 15 years ago are woody, but every year they keep producing amazing flowers. I digress.
I really wanted to write about how much I love lavender and how often I use it. Historically, it has been used since the ancient Egyptians, who used it as a healing balm and in mummification. I've even read what when the tomb of King Tut was opened, the smell of lavender was still present. The Greeks and Romans used it in soaps and as a perfume. In Elizabethan times, it was used in laundry and a laundress was known as a "lavendre." Queen Elizabeth 1st suffered from migraines and drank several cups a day of lavender tea for relief. Even in WW1 it was used to disinfect wounds. This common strewing herb has wonderful medicinal properties. Good for headaches, burns, wounds, scrapes, stings, nervous exhaustion, colic, lice, insect bites, etc., it can be used as a tea, tincture, oil or salve. It's a wonderful relaxant too. Who hasn't sniffed a lavender sachet and let out an "Ahhhhhh."
Did I mention that it's edible too? I love to cook with it. Add it to a cake or cookie recipe. It makes a delicious lemonade too. Let's not neglect it's magickal properties. Aligned with Mercury and the element of Air, it brings purification and peace. A few times a year I like to go through my home and bless it with a simple protection "spell." A little lavender essential oil in water with salt dabbed on the windows and doors, nothing too fancy. Maybe a little chant such as:
"Element of Air,
Herb of love,
Protect and purify
"Herb of Magick,
Herb of peace,
Love and protection
Is now increased."
If nothing else, it will make your home smell great.
So, lovely lavendula officinalis, I sing your praise. You protect and clean my home, you make my lotions, creams and shampoos delightful and you taste delicious. Who doesn't love you?
1 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup fresh (or 1 Tbs. dried) lavender buds
1 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
lavender sprigs for garnish
Combine sugar with 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium pan.
Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add lavender,
cover and let steep at least 20 minutes. Strain. Pour into
glass pitcher, add lemon juice and another 2 cups of water.
Stir well. Pour into tall glasses, half filled with ice cubes,
garnish with lavender sprigs.
Lavender Pound Cake
2 Tbs. lavender buds (fresh is best)
2 1/2 cups organic sugar
3 sticks softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour
3/4 cup sour cream
preheat oven to 350, grease and flour a bundt pan.
Whirl lavender and 1/2 cup sugar in a spice grinder.
Sift if neccessary. Mix butter, remaining sugar, lavender
vanilla, salt, in large bowl. Mix until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time.
Add flour then sour cream. Pour into pan and bake 50-60 minutes.
You can make this even more beautiful by decorating it with
sugared edible flowers like violets or lilacs.