Kew Red

'Kew Red'
Spanish Lavender

"Empty hives, & flitting bees,
& sunny morning hours:
I snipp'd the blossom'd lavender,
& the pinks, & the gillyflowers."

-May Probyn
circa 1895


Kew Red Lavendula stoechas subspecies stoechas variant pendunculata forma rosea was introduced through the trade, in the year 1999, as 'Kew Red' (sometimes 'Kew Pink').

It is named for Kew Gardens & for the Kew-Redding Plant Expedition, a joint effort of the Royal Botanic Garden in England & Redding Arboretum in northern California. It was this expedition which brought back from Spain the fuchsia-red color-variant.

Although the species is variously called Spanish Lavender & French Lavender, & even occasionally Italian Lavender, for the case of 'Kew Red' it would rightly always be called Spanish, since the color strain originated specifically in southern Spain.

Kew RedThis version of Spanish Lavender provides a double-whammy of difference. The flowers are first of all a bright deep pink rather than the usual lavender, & the rabbit-ear bracts on top are such a beautiful pale pink that they are occasionally almost white, with fine red veins.

The flower stems are shorter than for most varieties, so the blooms are barely above the slender-leafed evergreen clump, rather than held aloft as with the majority of Spanish lavenders.

It is a lush subshrub, reaching a size anywhere from two feet tall & wide to four feet tall & wide. A pre-spring sheering of the fragrant, upright evergreen foliage will keep it compact. When its summer bloom is wearing out, the fading stems of flowers can be cut off, which will excite a second bloom for September.

The first & second photos show its May flowering. The third photo shows its September rebloom. The pink bracts were stuntier in the autumn rebloom than they had been during spring & summer, but the main red flower-heads were just as showy in autumn.

Like other lavenders it wants full sun & a light poor soil with the sharpest possible drainage. It attracts butterflies & pollinators like mad from May to Autumn, & is great as cut flowers for aromatic bouquets.


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