Here’s Your Sweet Lavender


For centuries, writers and poets have fallen under lavender’s spell as the following brief, but chronological, miscellany demonstrates:

Envye I preye to God yeve hire myschaunce!

Is lavender in the grete court alway,

For she ne parteth neyther nyght ne day…

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women (c.1380)

 

I judge that the flowers of lavender quilted in a cappe and dayly worn are good for all diseases of the head that come of a cold cause and that they comfort the braine very well.

Turner, Herba ( 1545)

 

Lavender is for lovers true, Which evermore be faine; Desiring always for to have Some pleasure for their paine: And when that they obtained have The love that they require, Then have they all their perfect joie, And quenched is the fire.

Clement Robinson, Handefull of Pleasant Delites (1584)

 

The floures of Lavender picked from the knaps, I meane the blew part and not the husk, mixed with Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Cloves, made into powder, and given to drinke in the distilled water thereof, doth helpe the panting and passion of the heart, previaleth against giddinesse, turning or swimming of the brain, and members subject to the palsie.

French Lavander hath a body like Lavander, short and of woodie substance, but slenderer, beset with long narrow leaves, of a whitish colour, lesser than those of Lavender, it hath in the top bushe or spikie heads, well compact or thrust together, out the which grow forth small purple flowers or a pleasant smell. The seede is small and blackish: The roote is harde and woodie.

John Gerard, Herbal (1597)

 

Lavender’s green, dilly, dilly, Lavender’s blue,

If you love me, dilly, dilly, I will love you

English folk son (c.C17th)

 

There’s flowers for you;

Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;

The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun,

And with him rises weeping; thes are flower

Of middle summer, and I thek they are given

To men of middle age.

William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale (c.1610)

 

Being an inhabitant almost in every garden, it is so well known, that it needs no description.

Culpeper, The Complete Herbal (1652)

 

We shall find a cleanly room

lavender in the windows

and twenty ballads stuck about the wall.”

Izaak Walton, The Compleat Angler (1653-55)

 

And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom

shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound

to lurk admist the labours of her loom,

and crown her kerchiefs witl mickle rare perfume.

William Shenstone, The School Mistress (1742)

 

My dear, have some lavender, or you’d best have a thimble full of wine, your spirits are quite down, my sweeting.

John O’Keeffe, A Beggar on Horseback (1798)

 

Oh, they are such savages! I’m sure if I had not put lavender on my pocket handkerchief, like Mama, I should have fainted away.

Joanne Baillie, The Election (1798)

 

…but to go round the world and play at give and take with giants and dragons and monsters, and hear hissings and roarings and bellowings and howlings, and even all of this would be lavender, if we had not to reckon with Yanguesans and enchanted Moors.

Cervantes, Don Quixote (1804)

 

Of crowned lilies, standing near

Purple-spiked lavender:

Whither in after life retired

From brawling storms,

From weary wind,

With youthful fancy re-inspired,

Tennyson, Ode to Memory (1830)

 

Best among the good plants for hot, sandy soils are the ever blesse lavender and rosemary,delicious old garden bushes that one can hardly dissociate.”

Miss Jekyll, Home and Garden (1900)

 

Here’s your sweet lavender

sixteen sprigs a penny

that you’ll find my ladies

will smell as sweet as any

Lavender Seller’s Cry, London (c.1900)

 

There’s a few things I’ve learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can.

Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic (1995)