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by Pernell Gerver

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"Growing the Many Different Types of Lavender"

Herbs are a large group of plants that are used in many different ways. They are divided into types depending on their individual usage. Culinary, fragrance, and craft herbs are used in all different types of herbal creations. Culinary herbs are cooking herbs that are used in all sorts of dishes including herbal vinegar, herbal mustard, herbal salad, and herbal butter. Fragrance herbs are grown for their aroma and are commonly used in potpourri. Craft herbs are used in herbal decorations such as wreaths and arrangements.

There is a long list of herbs grown specifically for their fragrant stems, leaves, or flowers that are used in a variety of ways. One of the best is lavender. Lavender is a perennial herb grown for its aromatic foliage and flowers. It has gray-green slender leaves topped with dark purple spikes of flowers in summer. Flowers are harvested for drying just as they begin to open and are used in sachets, to perfume potpourri, add fragrance to soap, or placed in closets or drawers to add fragrance to whatever is inside. The flowers, leaves, and/or stems are also used in various culinary creations including lemonade, tea, and ice cream. It's also been said that the fragrance of lavender has a calming effect and can help with insomnia.

There are many different types of lavender that add their colorful and aromatic foliage and flowers to the perennial garden. 'Provence' has silvery-gray foliage that forms a handsome mound nearly three feet tall and as wide. Pale-lavender flowers bloom on thin, foot-and-a-half-tall flower spikes. It's one of the more compact types of lavender.


English lavender is the type of lavender that is most widely grown and there are many interesting types of English lavender. A more unusual English lavender is the variety 'Coconut Ice.' What's so different about this variety is its flowers. Instead of lavender, they're white and pink! New flowers emerge pink, then gradually fade to white as they mature. It's not uncommon to have both pink and white flowers on one flower spike at the same time, creating an eye-catching bicolor effect. The flowers bloom atop a dense mound of silvery-gray, spreading foliage. Overall, it stands about a foot and a half high and easily as wide.

One of the smallest English lavender varieties is 'Lavenite Petite.' It forms a dense, compact mound not much more than a foot high and wide. Slender flower spikes carry intense, deep-purple flowers. It's one of the first lavenders to bloom in the garden in early summer and its flowers are colorful for weeks.


Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Clubroot Affects Cabbage Family"

Q. How to do I get rid of clubroot? I do raised-bed gardening and every year I get clubroot in at least one of the beds. I get it with just about everything including radish, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. I get rid of it in one bed, then it shows up in another. Thanks for your help!

A. Clubroot is a disease that only affects members of the cabbage family including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi. The disease is called clubroot because it causes the plant's roots to swell abnormally into a large, club-like, misshapen growth. Because the swollen roots are under the soil's surface you can't see clubroot until you pull up the plant, but there are other symptoms.

Visible symptoms include wilting during the daytime and the outer leaves turning yellow and falling off. The plant slows down and dies.

Clubroot is caused by a soil-borne fungus that lives in the soil for years. Acidic soil along with warm, moist weather helps this disease to spread. In the roots the fungus causes cells to grow and multiply which results in a swollen root system. The plant is weakened and susceptible to infection from other diseases that cause root rot. The disease spreads into the soil around the rotting roots.

There is no cure for clubroot. Infected plants should be discarded.

There are a couple of preventative measures you can take to lessen the effects of clubroot in future years. Practicing crop rotation by not growing members of the cabbage family in the same spot for seven years will help. Also, raising the soil pH to 7.2 by adding ground limestone will discourage the infection.

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