One of the stops on my vacation this summer was at a lavender farm in northern Washington. It was a warm day with just a slight breeze. The scent filled the air. During the tour of the farm, I learned a lot about the plant. The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means "to wash." Lavender may have earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit.
Many people appreciate lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, or Lavandula officinalis) for its fragrance, used in soaps, shampoos, and sachets for scenting clothes. However, this herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue. Research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled.
There are over 200 varieties of lavender grown around the world, blooms are from white to pink, to blue to dark purple. The darker the color the more intense the fragrance. Chefs use English lavender for cooking, it has a milder flavor than the French lavender. This lavender is mixed with provincial herbs for an authentic French seasoning, or added to tea, or blended with sugar for a dessert topping.
I will be trying my hand at using it in recipes, and plan to add a few new varieties to my herb garden.