This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In a number of your magazine, a correspondent pleads the cause of the Wallflower or "Dame's Violet," as it was called in the old-fashioned days, when it was the favorite of highborn ladies. There is another flower, even dearer to me from the associations that cluster around it, than the Wallflower, and this much loved flower is the Lavender. It is called Lav-endula from the Latin lavare, to wash - because the ancients used it in bathing and washing; and we all know the oil is used in medicine and perfumery. Lavender water and lavender tea are used to soothe the nervous and hysterical. These qualities give it a rank among doctors and perfumers. Now for its use in flower gardens. With its silvery, compact leaves, and purple blooms it makes a beautiful hedge, planted and trained and trimmed as we do Box hedges. I remember a garden I visited frequently while I was in Southern Europe, and to me, one of the sweetest, prettiest things in it, was a hedge tenderly guarding the flower beds; a hedge, all silver and purple, of modest, old-fashioned Lavender. Bring it from the kitchen garden and let it adorn our flower yards, where low hedges are wanted.
In obsolete parlance to "lay in lavender," meant to lay away nicely and carefully, to keep sweet, showing that from time immemorial, lavender has been used to perfume clothing. Does not the dainty Keats tell us, in his "Eve of St. Agnes," of the "Lavender-scented sheets!" Does not its perfume bring to us a delicious dream of our childhood? We feel the cool linen against our cheeks; there is a breath of lavender, a vision of our mother " tucking us in bed" for the night! For an instant we are children again and life a beautiful picture of purity and hope It is gone like the breath of lavender, but are we not better for that passing moment of childhood?
In a poem upon Violets, one verse is equally appropriate to the Lavender, if we substitute it for violet.
"Yea, brings it not to every breast Some vision Bad and sweet, Of some loved memory laid to rest In Violet-scented sbeet".
We lay our loved dead, our holiest memories, to rest in sheets scented with Violets and Lavender; there is a holiness, a purity about these two modest, purple blooms, that no other fragrance can claim; other flowers smell stale after a time, these two always seem fresh and pure.
Lavender was, in old days, an emblem of affection, and Dryden as well as Keats, has embalmed it in verse.
"He from his lass, him Lavender hath sent. Showing his love, and doth requital crave".
Let us revive the ancient love and appreciation of this flower ! Let it perfume our linen, our baths, and soothe our nerves with its fragrant tea. Let us honor our gardens with this ancient, patrician plant that stands in its simple suit of silver and purple, and claims a place among flowers that gold and scarlet can never fill.