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From Bay Area to Barcelona

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Lavandula stoechas [ Wednesday, 12 May 10 | 16:20 ]
[My Location |El Masnou (Barcelona) España]
[My Mood |busybusy]

Not all the plants on the terraza are herbs, citrus, or other “fruit”. I do have some flowering plants. The lavenders (Lavandula) are a genus of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean region. So they should be a “natural” for me to grow.

The most common “true” species in cultivation is the common lavender, Lavandula angustifolia. Other popular ornamental species are L. stoechas, L. dentata, and L. multifida. In the past I had limited success in growing several varieties including the angustifolia and dentata, the plants dying after a few months. Last year I bought a variety I hadn’t tried before.

Lavandula stoechas or Spanish Lavender

Lavandula stoechas also known as French Lavender, Spanish Lavender, Stoechas Lavender, or Topped Lavender. Naturally they call it Spanish Lavender here. A perennial shrub, it usually grows to 30–100 cm (1-3 feet) tall and wide. The flowers are pinkish-purple (lavender-coloured), produced on spikes 2–3 cm (1 inch) long. Each flower is subtended by a bract 4–8 mm (⅙-⅓ inch) long.

I am happy to report that the plant that I bought last year is still doing well (as you can see in the above photo) and has been covered with flowers for the last two months. Last year all of the flowers looked like this one with “ears” on top of the spikes.

Immature lavender flower
You can see why it is sometimes called “topped”

This year many flowers are more mature with tiny true flowers visible.

Mature lavender flower
Notice the tiny flowers

Lavender is used as a flavoring in some cooking. Flower spikes are used for dried flower arrangements. The fragrant, pale purple flowers and flower buds are used in potpourris. Dried and sealed in pouches, they are placed among stored items of clothing to give a fresh fragrance and to deter moths.

Lavender was commonly used in Roman baths to scent the water, and it was thought to restore the skin. Its late Latin name was lavandārius, from lavanda (things to be washed), from the verb lavāre (to wash). Just by stroking the leaves you can get a scent of lavender on your hands.

And of course there is a Barcelona-based company called Puig (Catalan for peak or small mountain), which produces “Agua Lavanda Puig” as a lavender scented cologne, bath gel and soap. It has a research center that turns concepts dreamt up by its marketing and creative teams into fragrances. The company produces prestige brands such as Paco Rabanne, Carolina Herrera, Prada and Nina Ricci. A little downscale are Adolfo Dominguez, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, Massimo Dutti, Victorio & Lucchino, Mango and Zara (OK, a lot downscale.)

Photographer’s notes: ExpoDisc used for WB. EXIF data intact.


[User Picture]From: maxauburn
Wednesday, 12 May 10 | 15:46 (UTC)
Beautiful flowers! They remind me a bit of Iris,
both due to shape and color.

You have a lovely garden area there.

It must be nice to just sit out there with friends and a favorite beverage, or by yourself, too.
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Wednesday, 12 May 10 | 17:31 (UTC)

It must be nice to just sit out there

I have a couple of chaise lounges on the terraza that are very comfortable to lean back enjoy a strawberry margarita made with my own strawberries. Right now there is plenty of fragrance from the flowering citrus.

The color reminds me of iris as well. There are two types native to Spain: the Spanish (Iris xiphium) and English (Iris latifolia). They are smaller and not as "showy" as the bearded iris you usually see. The lavender flowers are really small, but are quite persistent (2 months).

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