Lavender is in flower from late July, its fragrance delicately scenting the garden on warm summer days right through until September.
As well as having lovely purple flowers and a wonderful perfume, lavender is also one of the most useful herbs for a witch to grow in her garden. It can be used to treat stress, insomnia, insect bites, infections and headaches - as I mentioned on A Bad Witch's Blog yesterday.
The plant's name comes from the Latin word lavare, meaning to wash. The Romans liked to bathe in lavender-scented water, which would not only have smelled nice but would have been good for clearing up skin blemishes, because lavender is a mild antiseptic. Lavender toiletries are still popular, although for many years they had an undeserved reputation as being something you mainly gave as presents to elderly aunts.
Having always loved the smell of lavender, I am pleased it is seeing a return to fashion - particularly on the menu in restaurants. The fact that lavender is delicious as well as healthy is something the Romans also knew. You can use the flowers in salads, as an ingredient in cakes or add a few sprigs to a jar of honey - which not only tastes delicious but is good for sore throats.
To make lavender tea, pour boiling water over 1 1/2 tsp of dried flowers flowers in a cup or mug. Two or three cups a day are supposed to be good for stress, depression, headaches and indigestion.
Bags of dried flowers can be hung in a wardrobe to deter moths or put in a pillowcase to aid sleep.
Lavender is also a traditional ingredient in love spells, particularly to help you communicate your desire to the one you love, either by wearing a charm containing lavender or writing a love letter on scented paper or with lavender ink.
To make the ink, boil 15g of dried lavender flowers in 6 tablespoons of water for 30 minutes, strain it and add the liquid to a bottle of ink. Then hand write your love letter using an old-fashioned ink pen with truth in your heart.
Always seek expert advice before taking herbal medicines and see your GP if you are suffering from prolonged or severe symptoms.