Winter pruning lavender

Brrr. Cold now. We are dropping into the minus Celsius temperatures overnight this week. And I have scuttled away to London for a bit.

So this will be my last France post and gardening blog until I can stop bothering you about leaf raking and indoor things.

I always think of this job – cutting back all the flowering spikes from the lavender as a long job. But as I have been so ruthless with the fork and secateurs all over the garden, I have fewer shrubs to prune.

There is barely a lavender left in the barn garden. And the main ones are now located in the right spot – south-facing and in front of the house.

I’ve done the Hidcotes in the front of the guesthouse garden. And the Grossos everywhere else.

I didn’t need to do any pruning of the little ones in the dry garden – the badgers sorted those out. And they are barely recovering from the brutal uprooting last month.

But the best ones in the lavender bank look great. Rounded, mounded and tidy.

And the ghastly ones that are accidentally shaded by the huge olive tree further along the bank are doing what lavenders will.

They have carked it. Or even worse,  half died and half clinging on to life. So you can’t just yank the whole thing out, as there are tiny flowering stalks way down the end of the sad and sorry branch.

I was a bit too keen with my cutting back in the poor afternoon light. I can’t afford to have gaps this large as the deer will have absolutely no barriers to wandering into the Swiss Chard supermarket.

Logic tells me to uproot the whole plant. It will never improve. But I would need to fix a better fence between the house and the olive tree first.

So for now there is a reprieve of sorts. I have hacked back as much as I dare. And in the spring I may cut again. There is no point in being greedy with the girth of the lavenders. They will only get manky if left too large. And if they are planted in rows as I have here, then they will start to shade each other out if the plants touch.

So all the spent flower stalks have been wheelbarrowed away to my new compost bins behind the stables.  (Awaiting more pallets to finish the front.)

Here is the finished product before I sullied it with plant matter.

Nicolas built them last visit. I have to do a bit of work with a mini digger to level the ground back here. But it is nice to start the heap off on a beautifully scented note.

I have the most aromatic muck heap around.