Lavender is one of my favourite flowering plants. It smells divine in bloom and has a multitude of uses around the home and garden. Lavandula angustifolia is the most common species in Britain and it’s also the most versatile. It can be grown indoors or outdoors and is exceptionally hardy to changing climates.
If you’ve got a crop of lavender in your garden or in a field nearby, picking it yourself is as therapeutic as the scent itself. Should you not have a nearby crop to go pick, you can buy it from a garden centre or the local market. It’s up to you.
Personally, we always go along to our local lavender field in Hitchin, Cambridgeshire once a year. For a small fee, you get a brown paper bag and a pair of scissors to go and harvest as much as you like. Surrounded by a haze of purple flowers and gently buzzing bees. It’s the most amazing way to spend a sunny afternoon.
Once you’ve got your lovely bunch of lavender, here’s 10 things to make with it:
Let your lavender heads dry (put them in the oven at 50°C to get the job done today) and lightly crush them. Pop them into a jar with an equal amount of almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil or baby oil for a glorious lavender oil you can use anytime.
Lavender oil is naturally antiseptic. It’s perfect for bee stings and bug bites, and you can make a spritzer all your own. Put a little water, a few lavender heads and witch hazel into a pestle. Grind it down into a paste. Add water to complete a batch.
If you want a lovely salve for your joints, take your lavender oil and add it to some beeswax (a good vegan alternative is candelilla wax). Melt the wax in a pan and add your oil. Empty it into an empty tin or jar and allow to solidify.
It’s easy to make fresh lavender soap at home. Just melt down an organic soap (the same way you melt chocolate – in a bowl over water) and add your lavender oil. You could make your soap from scratch but there’s really no need.
Melt a large candle slowly by filling a large saucepan with water and bringing it to a near simmer. Place a heavy pan or container into the water with your candle. Melt the wax down and add your lavender oil. Pour the wax into a mould of your choosing.
Make a superb lavender-scented window cleaner. All you need is a bunch of lavender flowers, distilled vinegar and an equal amount of water. Combine the ingredients into a spray bottle and leave for 48-hours. Your windows will smell lovely for days.
Lavender isn’t to everyone’s palette, but it really works with gin! Add a sprig to your favourite gin cocktail for a gentle infusion or make your own lavender gin at home with vodka, juniper berries, lavender flowers (five heads for 750ml) and 4 tbsp of caster sugar.
If you have some old cushion covers lying around, put them to use with cotton wool, fine straw and lavender flowers. Dry your flowers out and combine them with cotton wool and a little fine straw. The cushions will be firm but comfy with a lovely scent.
Lavender bath bombs smell lovely and are kind to the skin. Making them isn’t the fastest thing, but it’s worth it. Here’s how:
You need baking soda, Epsom salt, corn starch, and citric acid. These are your dry ingredients. You also need lavender oil, water, coconut and natural food colouring. These are your wet ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in a jug. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. You’ll now have a syrupy mixture. Add it to your moulds and allow to set, and…
… ta da! You’ve now got some gorgeous lavender bath bombs.
Spruce up your runny honey with dried lavender flower heads and fresh chamomile flower heads. They work great together. Just add the flower heads to your honey in a sealable glass jar for 36-hours. Stir when you walk past to create a thorough infusion. Tasty!
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