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Lavandula spica Lavandula angustifolia
Old English Lavender
Ruled by Mercury, who guides and helps all those engaged in magic, this herb is especially helpful for work involving raising spirits. A double infusion (add flowers, let sit, remove the spent flowers, and add another helping of flowers) will result in a strongly fragrant liquid excellent for help in spirit work. The flowers can also be infused and the infusion added to the bath for this purpose.

One of the most fragrant varieties, this native of the Mediterranean once grew widely throughout Europe. Because of overharvesting by wildcrafters, it is now usually cultivated.  Its oil came into use in Europe in the 1400s, and it was grown in medieval gardens.  Culpeper identified it with Mercury, and its scent - refreshing, herbaceous, and sweet, with cool rather than warm tones - is a nervine, good for nervous headaches and nausea. The oil of the flowers is sweeter than that of the whole plant. This lavender blooms most heavily in the spring, and unlike others of its kind, its flowers stay on the stem and remain blue when dried, so this is the best type for drying.  Old English lavender was a strewing herb in the Middle Ages (it has larger leaves than most lavenders).  Top

How to grow old English lavender. Cold stratify the seeds by sowing in a paper towel that has been wet and wrung out. Fold and make good contact between the paper towle and the seeds, put in a baggie, and refrigerate for one month. Then take out and plant for germination at room temperature in 3-4 weeks. This plant typically has low germination, so overplant. English lavender flourishes in zones 5-8 (temperate climes).  It is taller than regular lavender and has larger flowers and leaves. It blooms most heavily in the spring but will flower until frost. Harvest flower heads in the morning when the top flowers are just opening for dried flowers; harvest in the morning when the flowers are 50% open for oil.  It takes 7-14 days to dry. This variety handles cold better than some other types, but it dislikes humidity, especially the sort found in the Southeastern US, so where humidity is high, mulch with pea gravel, grit, or white sand. Where nematodes are a problem in the soil, grow it in pots.  It can get up to 2 x 3 feet outside.  I have grown this inside, and although it did not flower or get very tall, the leaves smelled wonderful, and it was very comforting to brush the plant and release its scent on a gloomy winter day.  General growing info Top

 

Lavandula angustifolia
Old English Lavender
200 seeds $3.25



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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Raising Spirits
Strewing
Mercury Herb

Medieval Garden Plant

2004, 2013 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission