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  • Writer's pictureSheila Webb

Must be Munstead

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

We're very lucky at Skell Gardens to have protective boundaries which shelter our plants. An old brick wall to the rear, established hedging and small trees either side and an unusually private aspect for a town centre mean that heat is trapped and we are not recipients of any knock-you-off-your-feet gusts! This does make my job a lot easier. But lessons are always to be learned and I have surely learnt one where lavender is concerned.

Garden border June 2019
Lavender stems reaching up here at the end of June.

We all know August was a funny month for weather. As I heard on Gardener's question time on Radio 4 last week, experts kept referring to the "weird" weather and its impact on our gardens. All sorts is affected as a consequence of "weird" weather - just getting out into the garden becomes an expedition with layers of clothing for initial cold and then stripping off after hacking at a few stems, wondering if the ominous clouds will re-materialise into another sudden soddening downpour.

In between guest stays I tend to the garden, swapping annual flowers in planters, giving things a haircut, keeping the hedge in check and the usual maintenance. Last week, as I started to assess how the garden had fared this Summer it was clear to see that the lavender planted 2 years ago (when first establishing the garden) had become leggy, was falling over and had a lot of dead wood. It was starting to look a bit like a packet of twiglets.

Lavender base
Lots of old wood on the lavender - interesting potted and trained but no good in the border.

I realise it is a privilege to have the option to purchase and cultivate better varieties of lavender. My own garden has taken 25 years of cultivating, propagating, patience and slow steady investment. When first planting the garden at our holiday let, Neill's budgeting had been eclipsed by unforeseen repairs (which I'll blog about later). Which meant that it was a case of doing what I could with what I already had or could afford, and so I did fall into the trap of temptation when faced with a supermarket a bargain price multi pack.

2 years on we now have a gap that needs filling and this time I'm planting "Munstead", my favourite tried and tested variety of Lavender. Why, you ask? Munstead has a lovely rounded tidy growth habit, beautiful full and rich blue/purple flowers and stays upright without getting too tall. Friends, family and passers by often comment on how stunning it is the the summer months. Faced with an abundance, this year I even sold off extra bunches at a car boot sale - the profits of which I've used to buy more plants for Skell Gardens.

Carboot lavender
Enterprising lavender sales!

When placing the new plants I've left breathing space between each one. They're surrounded by a small enclosure of box hedging and I'm trying to avoid them being hemmed in with moisture sitting around the base. The theory is that light and air will do the trick and they're in before any frost.

I'll now be holding my own breath in anticipation, awaiting the end of Spring when the bluebells are faded and flowers from this wonderfully fragrant herb start to appear.

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