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April 2, 2009
English Lavender Lavandula spica LABIATAE French Lavender Lavandula stoechas
Lavender and gentle old ladies seem fated to be associated. Many of us can remember the little bags of pink or lilac net, tied with velvet and satin ribbons, with which a maiden-aunt would honour the birthdays of her young nieces. Many a “hope chest” had little sachets of lavender amongst the linens and fine lawns, and the fragrance of this pleasant herb lasted through the years of girlhood till womanhood and marriage. The perfume of lavender is the longest-lasting of any herb in its dried state, and for this reason alone it is worth having a bush or two in your garden.
But its other uses, often little known, are more important. Lavender oil, extracted by distillation, is a very powerful antiseptic, and was used extensively during the last war, when surgical supplies were scarce and precious. In field hospitals and emergency aid stations, the herbs gathered from thousands of British gardens at the urgent request of desperate medical authorities, were once again used as of old in combating infection and cleansing and purifying surgical dressings and wards. Plant properties remain the same today as they were in the earliest epochs of the world’s history. There is not a new variety of herb out each year with a blare of publicity. The needs of man and animals in illness have not changed much either, so plant remedies remain as effective as ever they were.
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