Lavandula 'Hidcote': long-lasting flowers and delicious scent
One of my all-time favourite plants in a summer planting scheme is Lavandula augustifolia ‘Hidcote’. All gardens should include lavender (Lavandula) in my opinion, and if you are only going to choose one lavender then ‘Hidcote’ is a great option.
Lavender is perhaps best known as being either English or French. English lavender (commonly cultivars of Lavandula augustifolia) tends to have simply-formed flowers and are often more than hardy enough for British winters. French lavenders (commonly L. stoechas cultivars), in comparison, have more intricate flowers (look for the tell-tale ‘ears’ topping the flower heads) and are often less hardy and so may not always make it through our colder/wetter months. I love both English and French lavender, but I usually specify English lavender for the gardens I design for our customers because it tends to be rather more resilient and easier to look after.
L. ‘Hidcote’ is a bushy and 'well-behaved' shrub English lavender, with narrow evergreen silver-grey leaves. It has clusters of simple but beautiful small purple flowers on 3-4cm stems throughout the summer months. Beautifully fragrant, the flowers are at their best in July and are wonderfully attractive to bees and other beneficial insects.
‘Hidcote’ is a particularly versatile lavender because it has quite a compact growth habit. It rarely gets larger than 40-50cm high and tends not to get too leggy. It can be planted individually or in clusters and groups, but can also work well as an informal hedge. It’s narrow silver foliage provides excellent contrast with many similarly sized plants, making it ideal for the front of a mixed planting scheme.
Lavenders will grow in a variety of conditions, but all prefer a sunny and well-drained position. They don’t like to be too wet, so before planting in heavier soils it is a good idea to try to improve the drainage. This can be achieved by either adding some gravel or organic matter to the planting hole, or by planting on a slight mound to try to lift the base of the root system away from any risk of standing water.
"How should I prune lavender?" is one of the things our customers most regularly ask us. Pruning most plants is pretty simple, and I'm pleased to say that this includes lavender. I always recommend giving English lavender a quick trim shortly after the flowering has finished in late summer/early autumn. Using sharp secateurs, simply remove the flower stalks and approximately 2.5cm of the current year’s growth (which tends to be greener and 'fresher' looking than older and 'greyer' growth).
I follow this with a light trim (taking off no-more than 1cm) of any remaining old growth early in the next spring, ideally after the worst of the frosts. Doing this every year usually helps to avoid the most common complaint I hear about lavender- namely that it can quickly become too woody or leggy.
Lavandula ‘Hidcote’ is a wonderful lavender, and really is a ‘must have’ for most gardens. It is easy to look after, it has attractive silver-grey foliage, it provides a beautifully coloured flowers over a prolonged period, and it offers wonderful fragrance. It is at its best in June and July, just as we are outside enjoying ourselves in our gardens. What’s not to love?
Tythorne Garden Design provides professional fixed-fee garden design solutions for customers in Grantham, Stamford, Newark and surrounding areas. Let's see how we can help you to enjoy your garden more. Call us on 07900 224 239 or 01529 455 355.