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  • Michele Spence

A Shovel and a Dream

Living in the south for over a decade has been a wonderful journey. We have four distinct seasons, with spring and fall being my absolute favorites. The climate is perfect for growing almost year round and I’ve learned to do just that. Summer in the south can be pretty brutal, with the heat and humidity stressing all but the hardiest plants. Most lavender doesn’t do well during the humid days of a southern summer, succumbing to fungal disease, pests, and rot. I’ve dreamed of walking through fields of blooming lavender and envied the photos of the farms in France and in the state of Washington. I decided to start experimenting with a few varieties, grabbed my shovel and the dream was born.

After trying many English (angustifolia), and Spanish varieties (stoechas), I found great success with a variety called Phenomenal, which is an intermedia variety and created by a grower in Pennsylvania. Phenomenal outperformed all of the other varieties of lavender I had tried over a 6 year period. I began planting Phenomenal in different locations all around my yard and had eleven thriving shrubs of varying ages. I soon realized that I had found the variety that could handle life in the south and was over the moon with excitement. That being said, Phenomenal is a tough variety, but combine humidity and super wet soils and it’s a death sentence. Phenomenal is beautiful, with mounding, silver, evergreen foliage, and sporting tall spikes of blooms in a pale lavender hue around the middle of June. If Phenomenal is happy, you’ll be rewarded with a few bloom spikes in the fall as well.

I planted twenty-five Phenomenal lavender plants a few weeks ago and hope to plant another fifty in the early spring. Eventually, I’d like to have 250 – 300 lavender plants, but time will tell.

There are different types of lavender and they’re used for different purposes, however, I think the scent and beautiful blooms of all varieties must be what heaven looks and smells like. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to have a small version of that childhood dream of mine in the near future.

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