Last June, as we were walking in Amsterdam, my Singaporian friend suddenly stopped in front of a violet flowered plant. » Lavender ! » she shouted to her husband, very excited.
Well, nope, this was not lavender but blue salvias ( or sages).
Lavender can grow in Northern Europe, however there are plenty of plants with blue fragrant flowers that fill in most public gardens in Europe. And you will love them too !
In borders and gardens, you actually often find salvias (sages) . There are hundreds kinds of salvias of all colours, red, pink, white…Some are perennials, others are annuals.
The blue ones you generally see in public gardens or along the streets are annual salvias. They are planted together in springtime with red begonias and other annual flowers.
Salvia are fragrant and you can touch the leaves to smell their strong fragrance. Salvia officinalis ( the usual sage) can be used in cooking. It is excellent with meats such as rabbit meat or lamb. It can be used as herbal tea for infusion.
There are plenty of blue salvia species, with various flower shapes and blue hues. Below, a salvia patens.
Another plant many people believe are lavenders, the Perovskia, aka Russian Salvia . You often see them in public street borders, as they are cheap, easy to maintain and bloom abundantly during the summer.
Its leaves are very fragrant as well. The plant is perennial. It resists well to drought and full sunlight.
Perovskias are often misidentified as Caryopteris , because both plants bloom during the summer. Both have greyish fragrant leaves. But caryopteris blooms are more like little umbels. Both are easy to maintain , hence perfect in public gardens.
Lavenders can be quite elusive in Northern France , but you will find some in private gardens all around the country. They can be quite high maintenance as they require trimming and cost more than the blue plants above-mentioned. Besides, they are a bit delicate, not so winter resistant.
There are many kinds of lavender, some are white, pink, blue or violet.
You may even see butterfly lavander in pink or blue .
The Grosso Lavender is another kind of lavender, with a delicious fragrance. In France, they call it « Lavandin ». It is different from the official True Lavender. However lavender fields in Southern France can include either of them. They all belong to the Lavandula Family.
Compare with the lavender below.See how the flowers do not come in the same shape and hue. Actually most people are confused about « true lavender » and « lavandin ». Do not bother. Either are nice.
All lavenders have the same fragrant applications. You may go to the Aroma Zone shop ( at the exit of Odeon metro station) to compare their essential oils and see how different they can be in their fragrance.
So, next time you see » lavender », check out carefully their blooms and leaves ! Touch them and see if it is really lavender.