Help Me Grow A Lavender Garden
July 25, 2007 12:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to plant five small lavender plants that I brought back from my trip to Puget Sound. Please tell me, what else can I plant that will complement these?
posted by partner to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Complement in what sense? Colour? Form? Uses?

I'd go for a herby approach, with things like Rosemary, Thyme, Marjoram, that sort of thing.
posted by Solomon at 1:16 PM on July 25, 2007

rosemary especially likes the same Mediterranean conditions as lavender -- dry summer as in the puget sound area (shh, don't tell). I did check your profile and web site for hints to your location but didn't find any info.
posted by anitar at 1:22 PM on July 25, 2007

They won't be small forever - they spread in a nice, shrubby, spready kind of way. They look fantastic backed by orange daylilies or black eyed susans (rudbekia), but I'm not sure what you mean by complement, as Solomon said.
posted by iconomy at 1:24 PM on July 25, 2007

Curry Plants. They look very similar and they smell awesome. (You can cook with them, but you're better off using curry powder.)
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:25 PM on July 25, 2007

Thirding rosemary, or roses. I like to keep collections classic.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:42 PM on July 25, 2007

Go with something yellow for a nice contrast. Seconding the suggestion for black eyed susans or something similar that will pop from all the pale purple.
posted by mathowie at 3:19 PM on July 25, 2007

Sorry, I didn't say that I live on the southern Oregon coast. Wet winters, dry summers.
posted by partner at 3:24 PM on July 25, 2007

By complement, I mean color, size, perennial plants that will grow here in Coos Bay.
posted by partner at 3:26 PM on July 25, 2007

What's your soil like? Mediterranean plants can cope OK with damp winters as long as your soil is quite sandy/free draining.
posted by Solomon at 3:26 PM on July 25, 2007

If your zone isn't too cool for rosemary, then definitely try it - I would suggest one of the trailing kind, rather than the big, bushy tall kind. I would also suggest perhaps some kind of low, mossy herb-thing like Corsican mint (looks just like moss, doesn't spread as aggressively as "regular" mint) or elfin or wolly thyme.
posted by ersatzkat at 3:31 PM on July 25, 2007

The lavender farmer said to plant the plants in mounds to allow for free draining.
posted by partner at 3:47 PM on July 25, 2007

Chamomile. The short one (I forget if that's the Roman one or the German one) -- it makes mats of short grayish feathery foliage with yellow flowers. Given time, it will fill in under the lavendar to provide a contrasting mat, but itsn't as aggressive as many full-sun ground covers.
posted by janell at 3:47 PM on July 25, 2007

@janell - do you mean the Treneague variety? It's sometimes used instead of grass for low care lawns.

Day Lillies would be nice, and they come in loads of colours. They're fairly hardy. Or Ceratostigma, which has really blue flowers late in the season?
posted by Solomon at 4:07 PM on July 25, 2007

White sweet alyssum makes a great border around the lavender. It's got a vaguely honey-like smell that mixes well with the lavender and rosemary, and the white color will contrast very nicely.

Once it's established, it grows like a weed in climates like yours.
posted by toxic at 5:24 PM on July 25, 2007

Well, there's a lot of things you can do that are complementary, it just depends on what you are trying to achieve. A nice swath of cool color? A spicy mix of contrasting colors and textures? Classic Mediterranean Herbs in a formal style? There's already a number of good specific suggestions above, so I'll just run down the considerations that are important to me when designing gardens:
First, and absolutely most important, is that the plants are culturally compatable. Since your starting with lavender, it's a plant that requires good drainage, and is adapted full sun, low-nutrition soils and dry summers. Then think of colors you'd like. If you're planting in an area that seems too hot and dry, compose a palette including bright blue, chartreuse green, and white. If you want to spice things up, mix in bright mustard yellow and magenta, with maybe a bit of dark purple to boost the lavender. I think it's really important to mix in plants of different foliage texture (lavender is fine textured, so you'd want something medium and coarse textured as well) and shape (sword shaped, fountain shaped, lacy, draping, &c.). This allows your plants to grow together in a nice woven tapestry without just becoming a senseless mass of greenery. Something that many designers tend to overlook is layering; plants of all sizes look natural with a groundcover understory; some good choices for lavender might be creeping thyme or dymondia. Here's two scenarios that might give you a good starting point:

Dymondia groundcover (yellow, silver/green, med. texture)
Lavender (violet, greyish, fine texture, rounded)
Pennisetum glaucum (bronzy-red, spiky foliage, coarse )
Rudbeckia (yellow, med-coarse texture)


Creeping Thyme groundcover (lavender-pink, fine texture)
Salvia chamaedryoides (bright blue, grey, med. texture, soft)
Verbascum chaixii "album" (white, coarse foliage, upright)
Verbascum phoenicium "violetta" (dk. violet, coarse texture)
Nicotiana alata "lime green" (green, med. texture, open)

Hopefully that gives you some good ideas to start visualizing your garden.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:25 PM on July 25, 2007

I have some Mexican Heather that I put in containers with burgundy sweet potato vine and Persian Shield (the Shield needs to come inside in the winter, though), and it is very forgiving of conditions, as ours have been highly variable (weeks of monsoons, then very little rain). I'd been thinking of filling in with lavender.

You can also plant bulbs underneath it, daylilies will grow through anything. If you want something for height behind it, maybe muhly grass or a trellis of clematis and/or morning glories?
posted by Lyn Never at 6:06 PM on July 25, 2007

Thanks for all the info! This will be beautiful.
posted by partner at 11:40 AM on July 26, 2007

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