Lavender is an herb that belongs to the mint family. It will grow just about anywhere if you choose your plants wisely. There are over 200 varieties of the plant. Some more suited to a specific area than others. It is found all across the globe from southern Europe to East Africa. The Canary islands and the Mediterranean grow it. In some places in Asia lavender is grown and also in India. In many places in Spain it is regarded not as an herb but as a weed.
Lavender has many uses. It has an attractive appearance and will blend in beautifully with any landscaping. Place it with flowers in a border or with other types of herbs in your kitchen vegetable garden. It looks aesthetically pleaseing and a emits a soothing aroma. It is a plant that enjoys the full sun and as it requires little fertilizing it is low maintenance .
As an herb it is used in many recipes in the kitchen. Lavender is used in baking for flavouring things like cookies and cakes. It needs to be used sparingly though as it has a strong taste. Both the blossoms and the leaves are used. For culinary purposes it is best to grow it oneself or to buy from a food or health shop. Lavender that is sold for craft purposes is often sprayed with pesticide. In France and now in many other countries lavender is used to flavour ice cream. It gives the ice cream a special delicate taste which is also very refreshing. Combined with thyme and made into a paste it can be spread onto roasted meats such as lamb. Often lavender is put into a risoto to give it a stronger taste. Mixed with apples it makes a delicious sweet desert to be enjoyed. Items like nougat, sorbets and lemonade can also use lavender to to add a different flavour to them.
Since the ancient times lavender has long been used as a treatment for any number of ills. It relieves aches and pains. It has been used as an aid for digestion Often used for headaches and and for relieving itches and pain from insect bites. For healing purposes the flowers are used either fresh or dried. The oils are used in candles and air freshners for rooms and cars to emit a pleasing odour. A few drops of the essential oil used in bath water will relax and calm ones nerves and body. In France housewives always keep a bottle of the essentail oil in their medicine chest. This essential oil is a valuable item for them.
It is has become popular these days throughout the world as a medicinal aid and also for use in aromatherapy.The dried flowers and leaves make an excellent pot pourri. The dried flowers are also put into little sachets made from material to freshen linens and closets.
In ancient Egypt lavender was also used during the process of mumification. The Egyptians used lavender for cosmetic purposes. Men placed a small cone of lavender on top of their heads. When the oils melted and ran down their body they smelled fresh and clean and a pleasing odour emitted from their bodies. However the Greeks in ancient times disagreed, they placed the lavender on the lower parts of their body. They said if they put it on their heads the air took the perfume away but if placed on lower parts of the body it would spread all over them.That way the whole body captured the scents . The Romans also used lavender for washing , healing and for keeping insects at bay.
Soaps,candles and many other products are readily available that have lavender in them. When using the oils be frugal with it, just a few drops are required as it is very strong. The many ways that lavender is used has been known and documented for over 2,500 years .