Sunday, July 02, 2006
The flower for Messidor 14 in the French Republican calendar is Lavender, one of my favorite of all flowers. It was the plant ally I adopted many years ago during an herb course I took from EagleSong at Ravencroft garden and ever since, it has been a welcome friend. I could write about it forever and in fact, I often have. It was featured in my last newsletter
Most writers explain the name of lavender as coming from Latin, lavare, to wash, explaining that the herb was used in washing. But the American Heritage Dictionary (my favorite) derives it from Latin lividus, meaning bluish, which comes from the Indo-European root, sleia—which also shows up in sloe, slivovitz and livid. This makes more sense to me.
Lavender is a member of the Labatiae or Mint family. This was the only web site I could find that offered pictures of the various lavender varieties for which I'm so grateful I'm planning to place an order with them:
Lavender has been a popular element in cooking for centuries. On the web, I found a recipe for chicken with lavender, prepared by Anahita from a 13th century Andalusian recipe:
For more contemporary interpretations of lavender, this web site has quite a list including grilled pork chops with lavender, lavender crème brulee and lavender jelly at:
And my friend Kathy Gehrt’s blog features recipes for lavender nougat, lavender poached pears and bleu cheese and lavender honey on crackers:
For the past two weeks, I’ve been enjoying lavender vodka tonics, made from a recipe from this web site:
For instructions on making lavender wands, see the supplemental pages for my Lammas packet which can be downloaded and printed:
In the Middle Ages, lavender was considered a herb of love. Kate Greenaway in Language of the Flowers says it means distrust. But another source (from before the days when I became scrupulous about writing down bibliographic information) says it means constancy and loyalty, sweetness and undying love, "fervent but silent heart," and good luck. That's how I feel about it.
Greenaway, Kate, Language of Flowers, Averill Books
Illustration from Mrs. Grieve’s Herbal