Designing with lavenders

Pausing to sip my tea and unstick my teeth (chewy chocolate caramel) I have been ruminating on one of the peskiest of my mediterranean plants.

Lavenders. They are so ubiquitous, but I actually find them difficult to place well in a garden. And I don’t think I am alone.

With ten years of experience I thought I might pass on my design tips.

  • Only plant small shrubs
  • Space them wide apart
  • Only plant in full sun
  • Don’t plant on a slope
  • Prune carefully and hard each and every year
  • After about five years accept they are vile and rip them out and start again.


I am at the five-year stage with some of my lavenders and I have been very, very busy with the secateurs.

Particularly here on the barn garden rocks.

calabert terraceI didn’t heed any of my advice when I planted this up. (Long pause while I rummaged in the files.)

Back in 2012. So at least I am in the chuck it out and start again after five years rule.  The shrubs look distinctly bargain basement supermarket in spring size. And planted too close together and on a slope.

When I sat down this week with the loppers I was amazed how many shrubs I had stupidly crammed in.

08 lavender planted

They were so woody that I didn’t even dare add them to my current compost heap. I lobbed them down the hide all sins slope beyond the parking area. At least my gloves smelt lovely doing the vile deed.


Like a lot of gardeners I was in a hurry to hide the soil and plant the space.  But I am larding this little talk with the correct method – that of my new lavender bank. It cheers me up to see them while I undo the mistake.

IMG_7431Note how widely they are spaced. It looks extravagant, but you can fill the gaps with something temporary – bulbs and irises.

But if the plants are well-grown with a good root system, you only have to be patient a year or so before they have bulked out nicely.


Or in the case of my barn garden rocks, I have put in just three future shrubs. Three properly grown and very sensible viburnun tinus plants. (Hello little badly-made terrace of rocks. I had forgotten I made you back in 2012.)

You can see a threesome of the sensible drought tolerant unfussy plants at the top of this shot.


I have decided that they did so well close by, then I ought to repeat the gesture. And make the large eleagnus ebbingei less lonely beside them.


And once I rebuild the little walls, I can then stuff all the irises that are hanging about the barn garden as a temporary filler.  And then patiently wait for the right mediterranean shrub to put on girth and save me making another lavender mistake.

And if I am missing the scent and sight I can just step to the terrace and look down on the step garden and admire the properly grown lavenders in full sun and properly designed.