Monday, June 25, 2012

Sensory Overload

A hotel lavander garden on the island of Capri
 AJ      Take a stroll through any Italian village and your senses will be overwhelmed.  You see the rolling hills filled with olives and grapes, hear the chorus of birds overhead, taste the dry red wine, touch the rough ancient walls,  and smell, you smell everything! One smell that I can never escape here is the lavender.  It is planted everywhere from big bunches on formal gardens, to small pots on a porch, the Italians love lavender.

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, has deep roots within the Italian culture.  In ancient times, Romans would place bunches of the flower in thermal baths, made perfumes and oils, and even made a disinfectant out of the plant. In the recent past it was used within wardrobes and drawers to keep moths away from clothes. It prefers to grow in dry areas, such as stoney spots, that are well drained with lots of sun.  It has a shrub like growth about 24" tall, silver foliage, and flowers in late spring and summer.  A native to the Mediterranean, it has around 25 different species, and is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae).  I was more than excited to discover one of my favorite herbs was so fundamental in Italy. Now, to get back to Texas and see if mom has managed to kill mine while I have been here...

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