Lavender – Mythical and Magical or just Beautiful and Pungent?
It seems that lavender has been a plant of interest for centuries, used by populations all over the world, with many discovering new uses and passing this knowledge down whilst trading resources. The Arabs, Greeks, and Romans; as well as English and French royalty used lavender extensively for the different proposed benefits it brings.
It is thought that the Arabs were the first population to farm and distil lavender; they believed that it could ease the nervous system, reduce stress and helped them achieve a deeper sleep. Arabian physicians swore by lavender for its ability to clean wounds, kill germs and encourage healing. Greek and Roman populations believed that the stress reduction qualities stretched as far as reducing and curing headaches, migraines and insomnia when used as an oil rub or drunk as a herbal medicine.
Lavender was popular with the ancient Egyptians because of its remarkable fragrance, it was used in the mummifying process as well as perfuming their clothes and themselves. It is also believed that Cleopatra used lavender as a weapon of seduction!
It appears there is some truth behind these claims made centuries ago, numerous studies have been conducted on the benefits of aromatherapy and the use of lavender essential oil. It has since been proved that lavender oil can be used as a skin care product to aid the healing process after burns and scars as well as an antihistamine.
Of course the fragrance is undeniable. The strong scent is most commonly used after a drying process that involves hanging cuttings upside-down in a dry environment for several months and then collecting the buds; these can then be put into pillows, cushions and duvets along with small bags to freshen up wardrobes, drawers and rooms.
Another undeniable characteristic is certainly the beauty of the plants in full flower. Whether it be the traditional purple, a gentle pink or an elegant white adding colour to a landscape or garden; or perhaps the striking colour and shapes of the Stoechas varieties, lavender is always a sight to behold.