Lavender: a landscape mainstay

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The month of May, for me, is surely one of the best months in the landscape for flowers and bloom time. The rockrose, day lilies, roses, hawthorn, Mexican evening primrose and lavender are all in full bloom. The landscape really comes to life in an array of colors, textures, and variations in plant hierarchy. I love it. All that weeding, Round-Up spraying, dormant pruning of woody plants and trees, cutting back of perennials to the ground, and division of bulbs during the winter finally reaps its rewards. The next item to tackle is turning on the irrigation system. Yes, that’s right, I haven’t turned on my irrigation system yet. The ground is still wet several inches down below the surface and, since we’ve been getting a good rain once a week for the past several weeks, it’s continually getting enough water to sustain the plants and even my turf. I suppose as mid-May approaches and the temperatures stay in the ‘80s, the irrigation will need to be back on the timer. Now is a good time to run through your drip systems, check for breaks or cracks in 5/8” pipe, clogged emitters and broken mini-sprayers. If you live in the country like I do, check and clean out your filters. It’s amazing the places earwigs can get into! Californians really over water our landscapes and turf. Invest in a soil probe to check the moisture at different depths. You’ll be surprised how deep the moisture table is right now. You can gauge the time more accurately between waterings to save water. A good, deep soaking for turf, shrubs, and trees not only will encourage a deeper root system but also cut down on weed growth. Continuing on our plant list, another excellent bloomer and gray-foliaged plant for the landscape is lavender. It is the same plant used in dried cut-flower arrangements, potpourri and sachets. There are several varieties: Spanish, English and French. My favorites are English and Spanish varieties. They don’t get very big, one to three-feet high and you can leave the spent flowers on the plant long after bloom. Great bee and butterfly attractant too. A good tip on any plant with gray foliage: usually highly drought-tolerant. Why? Because they are either covered with fine hairs or a waxy substance that creates a silvery look. This coating helps the plants to retain water. Kurt Voigt is a landscape designer/consultant. He can be reached at