Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dwarf Lavenders

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Gardening Gone Wild Picture This Entry May 2011

The kind comment from the GGWPT mentioned this photo was--uhh,  had too much going on?  I went out and tried to work on a better...how's this one? Any better?   Well, I'll keep trying! 
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Dwarfed annual bedding plants: I do not like. My impression is that growers know you must plant more of them when they are dwarfed, so the smaller, the better. I've quit buying annual bedding plants because all of them seem to be dwarf varieties--squat little plants that are difficult to get going. No, thank you.

Dwarf Lavenders, however, are a different story.

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They seem to have all of the virtues of full-sized Lavender, minus the major vice of splitting open to expose dead material and unattractive woody branches. The dwarf plants I've tried have been long lived (10 years and thriving) while remaining tight and tidy. Full sized plants I pull out after a few years because they look so bad.

The dwarf lavender pictured above blooms only in late spring. I sheer off the spent blooms and the tips of the branches in mid summer, and for the rest of the year they remain neat and symmetrical little buns of grey-green foliage. And too, sheering a small lavender is far easier than dealing with a monster. I am satisfied with the once-blooming aspect, since the lavender's other good qualities are so compelling. The fragrance, if not the bloom, is year 'round.

I recently got this impossibly cute little cultivar with the impossibly cute little name of 'Thumbelina Leigh':
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I will not hold the name against her: when I opened the car trunk to take out the plant, the trunk was filled with sweet lavender fragrance. Heaven! This variety is supposed to remain just 12" (30 cm) or so tall and wide. Small in stature, large in fragrance. What could be more ideal?

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7 comments:

  1. I was unaware of the dwarf lavenders - I have used a few smaller varieties in designs and at our own place, but not sure those are dwarfs. Too bad it flowers only in spring, but with our colder falls and winters anymore, gone are the blooms into Dec. Yes, the larger ones get really rangy, so cut mine all back to ground in March!

    The dwarfs should be available here, since they're non-native and it is lavender...

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  2. I saw 'Thumbelina Leigh' for sale on the High Country Gardens website, so it must be available in the Southwest.

    I've never tried cutting to the ground. We get seedlings, so it's easier just to pull out the old one and move a seedling into the spot.

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  3. This is very exciting news! Ten years, you say, without splitting? I'm going to trial some at my mom's garden.

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  4. Learned something. Dwarf lavenders don't split.
    Well -- having just planted more than one hundred 'super' which will grow to about 1200mm (4 feet) tall, you learn something every day.
    http://thefieldofgold.blogspot.com/2011/03/border-of-lavender.html?utm_source=BP_recent
    Mind you. Consistent programme of triming back does seem to help.

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  5. Hi Field, yes I completely agree, consistent trimming makes a significant difference. I confess it's something I just don't get around to. My big lavenders, 4 feet tall also, are planted on rather steep slopes and crawling up there to trim and cleaning up the trimmings is difficult.

    Hi Denise, I'm speaking strictly from experience with mine: yes 10 years so far, the one in the 2nd photo was planted spring 2000--okay, 11 years now! I do shear them very lightly (1/2" - 1") once a year after bloom, which since they are small, is easy.

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  6. Wow! fabulous photos! You did a great job on the top one especially, so I say you win the contest if that what you've done.
    I have a Spanish lavender field, planted on a slope that was once a driveway. Very poor soil and excellent drainage. Just what they like I think. The English and French are just blooming a month later. Sue

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  7. Great post. Lavender's are such perfect plants; fragrance, colour, low water -- and that photo is amazing!

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Always interested in your thoughts!