Some gardeners eschew the most popular varieties of their chosen plants simply because they are popular. However, some popular varieties are protected from such horticultural snobbery by virtue of being so magnificent they can’t be ignored or by the simple fact that most people don’t realise they are so popular. And when it comes to Lavenders, both reasons apply.
Provence has long been associated with Lavender. The plant has been an important commercial crop there since the 1820s when it was first grown for the production of its essential oil. In 1935, the industry placed its trust in a single cultivar – Lavandula x intermedia ‘Abrialii’. All was well until 1972 when this cultivar fell prey to a pathogenic microorganism and the fungus reduced the useful life of the plant to three or four years. A replacement had to be found and it was quickly noticed that a certain hybrid of the cold-hardy English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and heat-tolerant Portuguese lavenders (Lavandula. latifolia) was growing well. When it was then discovered that this plant produced up to five times the quantity of essential oil, the search was over. By 1975 the fields of Provence were filled with Lavandula x intermedia var. Grosso – Lavender Grosso had arrived.
News spread fast and Lavender Grosso soon became the favourite of commercial growers in North America as well. The plant also established itself in the nursery trade from where thousands of gardeners fell in love with the King of Lavenders, almost certainly oblivious that Lavender Grosso had become the world’s most widely planted Lavender.
Now, if such popularity puts you off, we’ll show you what you’re missing in our next post…