White Lavandin ‘Edelweiss’ is a beautiful summer flowering shrub that provides a long season of fragrant blooms later in the year than most lavenders.
Lavandin is a cross between English lavender (L. anguvstifolia) and Portugese lavender (L. latifolia) leading to a hybrid known as Lavandula × intermedia.
These hybrids tend to be more floriferous and robust than either parent species from which they derive. On the downside, they might be a bit less hardy. That said, mine have grown happily for many years here in the South of England, surviving snow and frosts without batting an eyelid.
Although the majority of Lavendin varieties come in the typical purples and mauves, there are a few white varieties, including the beautiful ‘Edelweiss’ which has long flower spikes with an intense fragrance making them good for cutting.
I grow my Lavandin in a narrow south-east-facing border in front of my greenhouse, where it creates soft mounds of foliage in the spring as shown in this photo.
△ A hard autumn prune ensures Lavandula × intermedia produces neat mounds of foliage in spring
Throughout April and May these soft domes of grey-green foliage fit in well with the clipped Box, Myrtle and Rock Rose alongside them adding to the rounded look of this bed. Keeping these lavanders tight and neat is achieved by giving them a really hard prune in the late summer after they finish flowering. Removing almost all of the foliage seems brutal at the time, but it stops them becoming sprawling and leggy (See my post on hard pruning lavender)
My four plants are now six years old, but by pruning them hard each year I have kept their foliage mounds to somewhere between 12 and 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) diameter. Come July that foliage is topped by hundreds of tall airy flower spikes, swelling each plants dimensions to a cloud nearly 3ft (90cm) wide and 2ft (60cm) tall. Although the billowing flower spikes inevitably lean on adjacent plants, their fine stalks allow enough light through to prevent any problems.
Lavandula × intermedia ‘Edelweiss’
fertile retentive soil
For weeks on end these beautiful flower attract a continuous succession of bees which will be constantly active on them from dawn until dusk.
Because these lavandins are planted close to my greenhouse they tend to grow out and forwards, tumbling over the path quite romantically if a little lopsidedly. In a more open situation they would produce more symmetrical flower-domes.
One temporary downside I find is that the long stems flop down with the weight of heavy rain. fortunately they soon pick themselves up again once they dry out, recovering from their soggy bedraggled look.
From a distance the flowers of Lavandin ‘Edelweiss’ create a pure white haze against their green stems. However, when you get in really close it turns out that the flowers include a multitude of subtle colour tones.
Below you can see the amazing botanical structure of the flower-spike. The white flowers emerge in succession from whorled clusters of tubular grey-green buds tipped in a smokey-mauve reminiscent of purple lavender.
The faded flowers contain a warm brown which picks up the colour of the evening sun. Beneath each ring of flower-tubes you find a circle of dark brown bracts. The overall mix of colours is quite astonishing and very beautiful.
Because lavenders are associated with Mediterranean climates, people assume they need a free-draining sandy soil, but they are far more adaptable and in my garden are quite happy on my heavy clay-based loam which in winter months remains relatively soggy (although it drains well enough to never have standing water on the surface which I’m sure they would hate.)
I commonly see lavenders recommended for sites with poor dry soils, but they actually do better where soil fertility is good and will perform better when they are watered regularly. A typical English garden border, it seems, suits them better than might be expected. If your lavenders are not thriving consider watering and feeding them in the summer months. They will almost certainly reward you handsomely given a little extra attention.