Do you like green flowers? They seem a bit peculiar it’s true, like the green rose, Rosa viridiflora which has sepals instead of petals and a rather specific peppery smell that is like its China rose cousins. Still this peculiar little rose has a number of advantages. It grows very well and is a excellent subject for containers, rarely suffers from disease, and is even a long lasting cut flower. But would you want to smell it? If someone came up with a perfume called “Green Rose” would you be interested or would you decide to stay far away?
Green lavender suffers an even worse fate than the green rose. Everyone knows that lavender’s mission in life is to smell like …lavender. That’s just for starters. Lavender doesn’t produce big showy blooms nothing that would startle a garden club, just long wands of
small dark purple to pale violet blossoms and we make them into sachets and colognes, end of story.
Now I am intrigued because I have a real (admittedly bizarre but real) fondness for green flowers. When we lived in Vermont one of my favorite things was to grow Lady’s Mantle which is green, and Nicotiana “Envy” which is also green, and a whole cast of other largely chartreuse characters including towering yellow green foxgloves and an outsized “Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick”. My garden was a jungle of greens and silvers, only sporadically lit by blues or whites.
Now even my lavender can come in drifts of green and I’m excited.** I am up for as many different kinds of lavender as can be grown here and I’m guessing that’s a lot. You can have the French kind with the little flags on top, you can have the huge big wands (Grosso well named don’t you think?) that perfumes detergents etc in Europe*. I can have pink varieties like “Coconut Ice” or “Melissa” or simple old “rosea” but what I really want is the white “Alba” and of course, you’ve guessed it, lavandula viridis.
Why? Well any garden books that deal with the subject of green lavender at all say
that LV is very like rosemary and is an excellent cooking herb. They say that anything rosemary can do LV can also do and that it is an excellent herb for the grill. That has my full attention.
I like to bake and am not averse to trying lavender shortbread, but the idea of grilling with lavender is just too intriguing. We’ve been using rosemary for years on the grill and in focaccio. ( I always have great big bushes of the stuff on my property) and being able to substitute lavender sounds exotic.
Then there’s the smell. Lavender viridis is said to have a camphor smell, a lemony smell. This is a nice break from the usual soft and dry floral smell we all know and might be very good with fish.
My best bet these days in the States is some of the nurseries in the Northwest where they have been breeding lavenders and they do carry Lavender viridis along with many other lavenders goodwincreekgardens.com has many of these including the green, and joycreek.com carries many more varieties. In the UK there is lavender.co.uk a wonderful source for so many lavenders I am quite jealous of you across the pond, why do you always seem to have so much more choice?
Am I going to put in an order in January? Probably I won’t be able to wait that long. Happy Thanksgiving!
* French produced lavender is suffering these days from a blight carried by a kind of miniature cicada called a cicadelle in Provence and which transmits a disease to the plants so that they wither.
**If you like butterflies et al lavender is a good plant to grow since it provides food and cover for many beneficial insects, not only the pretty cabbage whites you so often see fluttering around the bushes.