​The versatile and fragrant lavender

MANY USES: For centuries lavender has been used for soaps, in bath water and to add a clean and fresh scent to bed linen and clothes.
MANY USES: For centuries lavender has been used for soaps, in bath water and to add a clean and fresh scent to bed linen and clothes.

The English word lavender originated from the Latin verb lava, “I wash” and for centuries lavender has been used for soaps, in bath water and to add a clean and fresh scent to bed linen and clothes. In the Middle Ages laundresses would drape the household sheets over lavender bushes to dry and to impart their fresh, clean scent. Today we can use the magic of lavender in many different ways.

Use the oil as a cleanser for your face. Simply mix one drop of oil to five tablespoons of distilled water, shake well, and apply with a cotton-wool ball.

If a skin blemish is coming up, dab on one drop of lavender oil to help it disappear. Individual sores or insect bites can also be dabbed directly with lavender oil. For insomnia suffers, put one drop of lavender oil on your pillow and you'll be asleep in minutes.

Lavender oil rubbed into the wrists or onto the nape of the neck has a calming effect. Unwind after a hectic day by adding three drops each of lavender oil and rosewood oil to your evening bath.

Alternatively, add dried lavender buds to your bath water to relieve sore muscles and prevent skin dryness. To add the herb to bathwater put two generous handfuls of dried lavender buds in a ceramic bowl.

Mix together half a litre each of distilled water and cider vinegar in an enamel or stainless steel saucepan and bring to just below boiling point.

Pour the liquid over the herbs, seal the bowl with a plastic wrap and allow to steep for 12 hours. Strain the mixture through fine muslin, squeezing and keeping all liquid from the herbs. Bottle for future use. Add one cup of lavender water to your bath while the water is running from the taps.

In the kitchen, lavender can be blended with honey to make a delicious breakfast treat, especially when spread on freshly baked crusty bread. Gently warm a bottle of light honey in a double boiler, add one to two tablespoons of dried lavender flowers, and allow to infuse for two minutes.

Remove from the stove, cover with a piece of muslin,and allow to stand in the hot sun for a few hours. A sunny windowsill away from ants and other creatures is ideal. Strain out the lavender flowers and bottle.

As a closet herb, lavender will leave your clothes with a fragrant fresh, clean scent, and it will also act as a deterrent against moths. Mix together, in a ceramic bowl, four tablespoons of dried lavender flowers, half a teaspoon of orrisroot powder and three drops of lavender oil, and add this mixture to small muslin sachets. Scatter the sachets in drawers or place them between stored linen.