Resurrection of the lavender

Last summer, I made a new friend by way of her garden in Des Moines. As we wound through the lush plants out in front of her house, I remarked about her gorgeous, overflowing lavender. Each individual plant was at least six to eight times the size of my little potted lavender plant back at home.

“It’s hardy,” she said. “It’ll survive the winter and come back.”

“But it’s in a pot,” I said, thinking of my plant and its gorgeous, tiny blossoms. “I don’t really want to put it in the ground.”

“Bury the pot,” she said. “It needs to go dormant, but then it will return.”

I decided to give it a try. This was a pretty serious leap of faith for me: bury a pot of lavender and have it survive the freezing weather of an Iowa winter? It was one thing if the plant was in the ground, but my hypothesis was that I’d enter spring with a dead plant.

When we cleaned up the garden, I left the dirt in one of my big tomato pots, dug out a large-enough hole, and sank the lavender pot up to its rim. I filled it in and walked away, determined to do no more harm…or good, for that matter.

A few weeks ago, I decided the lavender plant had definitely not made it. I needed the pot back to prep for tomato plants, so I prepared to just pull out the lavender and let it make its final resting place my compost pile.

But just then, a hint of green caught my eye. I looked closer, and discovered some very tender, very amazing shoots of bright lavender leaves emerging out of the dead, grey plant.

Lavender starts to return

Lavender growsAfter I got over my amazement, I set the lavender back in its rightful position, over in the bank of pots that make up my herb garden. It has continued to grow back, sending up green flags toward the bright spring sky.

I should have known much better than to doubt this particular person. She has total cred, and she more than knows what she’s talking about. But I still find it surprising when I manage to keep plants alive in the first place, so getting to view a resurrection really blows my mind.

This post is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Rinku of Cooking in Westchester. Please stop by for the full round-up when the weekend is over!

19 Responses to “Resurrection of the lavender”

  1. 1 Lydia May 17, 2007 at 11:42 am

    My lavender has just come back, too. I’m so proud of it (all three plants!) for making it through the winter. One day it is silver and shriveled, and the next day, green!

  2. 2 Kalgardengal May 17, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    I have two old lavender plants I have left in the ground for several years. Last year it was beautiful…this spring pathetic. I trimmed it back some and there is new growth coming so think I will trim back rest of the way. Also cut down honeysuckle tree down to nothing and it is coming back with now 12″ high shoots! I’m so glad! It was a beautiful bush in it’s prime.

  3. 3 steven May 17, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    I haven’t had any luck with lavender around here, but my thyme weathers the Pennsylvania Winters just fine. The parsley and the cilantro are usually the first thing to shoot up after the snow melts. Gotta love the herbs.

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener May 17, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    Lydia, glad to hear yours returned, too! It is really exciting to see that switch, isn’t it?

    Kalgardengal, it always amazes me when something can be cut back to nothing and then return…it’s a worthy lesson for life, huh? Glad your honeysuckle and lavender are returning.

    Steven, the herbs rule. No question about it.

  5. 5 Michelle May 17, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    Bravo! How exciting! I wonder what else will be turning up this year.

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener May 17, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    Michelle, we’ll see … hopefully plenty of cool things!

  7. 7 Carol May 17, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Three cheers for the annual resurrection of the seemingly dead lavender. It amazes me every year. Just when I am about to give it up for a goner, it sprouts life.

    Speaking of things coming back to life, today I went to the Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill garden tour, in Boston, my state capital. It was really amazing!

    If you have a couple of minutes come visit me at my blog and see some of the beautiful gardens.
    Hope you garden is doing splendidly!


  8. 8 kate May 18, 2007 at 12:48 am

    It was great to read about your lavender tonight. So true … wise gardeners know what they’re doing.

  9. 9 Sally May 18, 2007 at 1:23 am

    That is so exciting. I would never have thought of burying the pot.

  10. 10 Katie May 18, 2007 at 9:29 am

    I planted some 2 years ago by the fence and it’s struggling with the summer drought. This year I put some in the herb garden, where it belongs. I have great hopes for it now – but then I always hope!

  11. 11 inadvertentgardener May 18, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Carol, it’s really like magic. And those Boston gardens are gorgeous! Thanks for pointing me in that direction.

    Kate, I’m really lucky to have so many wise gardener advisers.

    Sally, I wouldn’t have thought of it, either. It was a great idea!

    Katie, hope is a total necessity for gardening, I think. It’s never a bad thing. :-)

  12. 12 Susan May 21, 2007 at 7:26 am

    This reminds me of the year I tore out huge knarls of day lilies
    that were no longer flowering. Not having the ambition nor strength
    at the time to divide the tight root masses with pitchforks, I tossed them under an arbor and forgot about them. Somehow they survived a pretty harsh winter. With such a will to live, I had to divide and replant them. They flowered again for several years after, better
    than ever.

    Lovely blog you have here. Now that I’m living in a condo, I need all the green I can get.

  13. 13 inadvertentgardener May 21, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Susan, you’re welcome to stop by for your shot of green any time. I can’t promise experience or good advice, but I can promise plenty of photos! That’s pretty impressive about those day lilies — I’m glad you got tons more life out of them!

  14. 14 Rabbi Rob October 2, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    This has giver me hope that I won’t lose some of my herbs during the winter here in Tennesse. I’m looking for other sites about herbs and small plants making it through winter.

  15. 15 inadvertentgardener October 9, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Rabbi Rob, I’d love to hear more about what herbs you’re going to keep alive over at my updated site,!

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