Lavender

'Willowbridge Snow'
Italian or Spanish Lavender


"Here is his little cambric frock
That I laid by in lavender so sweet,
And here his tiny shoe & sock
I made with loving care for his dear feet."

-from "My Son"
by Ada Tyrrell,
1917

   

Granny Artemis bought this lavender variety as a tiny start at the Lavender Festival in nearby Sequim. It is shown here in April less than a year later as a substantial clump in full flower.

The name of the town of Sequim is pronounced "Skwim," which has in less than a decade has become the lavender capital of North America. Although the Olympic Penninsula is a rainforest region, Sequim is its own warm & sunny microclimate that gets much less rainfall. The weather greatly resembles weather in Provence, France, which made it a popular retirement community.

For many years, Sequim's development for retirees threatened small farm life that had previously dominated the land use, & only the modern conversion of failing vegetable farms into successful lavender farms saved the farmlands from subdivision & over-development.

The annual lavender festival occurs in July when the lavenders are most strikingly in flower, & it's easy to hop on downtown festival busses near the street fair & go on a tour of the farms, where you really can get the feeling that you're standing in a field of flowers in Provence. There's good eats at the farms, too; one of the farms has a darned fancy year-round restaurant, while others put up temporary food booths.

The hybrid Lavandula viridis x stoechas ssp pendunculata 'Willowbridge Snow' is a green & white flowered Italian lavender. It is much taller & larger-flowering than than the Italian white (L. stoechas var stoechas var leucantha 'Alba'), with more numerous spikes of flowers, the bracts or "ears" being larger, with distinct greenish veins.

It requires a sunny position in soil that drains exceptionally well. It is very drought tolerant when established. Ours is near a ledge that fronts a rugosa rose garden.

It begins flowering in April in our garden though the official descriptions say it will start blooming in July. When the blooms are done-for, sheering the flower stems back induces rebloom, which can continue until the first hard frost of autumn.

L. stoechas varieties are rarely hardy below zone 7, & L. viridis is more delicate still. But the hybrid 'Willowbridge Snow' is worth attempting even in Zone 6. It was developed in the cooler damper climate of New Zealand by Lyndale Nurseries of Auckland, for greater temperate hardiness.

L. viridis is sometimes called Yellow Lavender though the inflorescents are much more green than yellow. It greatly resembles L. stoechas in flower type, except L. stoechas is normally purple. Both species are native to Spain & Portugal, & the white variant of L. stoechas is native of Italy, & either species can become large clumps. 'Willobridge Snow' shares with its parents a large clumping size & tall flower spikes, but the flowers are white.

   



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