Deconstructing Lavender, Desiring Peonies and Demystifying Botanical Names


At last count more than 40 varieties of lavender are available in local nurseries and probably twice that will be available at the Sequim Lavender Festival, July 15-17.  It boggles the mind. Here’s the easy breakdown. There are four main types: English Lavender (L. angustifolia), French Lavender, (L. dentata),  Spanish Lavender (L Stoechas) and French Hybrids (L. x intermedia).

English lavender has the strongest fragrance

French lavender has grayer leaves with saw-like edges


Spanish lavender is the one with the flower topknot

French Hybrids are a mix of French and English and are bred for commercial use for hardiness and fragrance. These are the best for crafting.

As an added bonus…deer don’t seem to find it appetizing.


Be on the lookout for Itoh Peonies, a cross between tree peonies and grandma’s peonies. Tree peonies are woody stemmed, tall and sparse but with gigantic flowers. Grandma’s peonies (herbaceous) are mostly pink, foliage-full with slim stems that bend with the weight of the blousy flowers and always need to be staked. Itoh peonies are the best of both. Stems are stronger; foliage is full and flowers cross over into oranges, coppers and sunset pinks. They bloom longer (up to a month) and can have as many as 50 flowers each season. Expensive but worth it.


Word Geeks take note…”The Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms” by David J. Borror, PhD, is a reference book for all the scientific communities including horticulture.  The word breakdown encompasses mostly Greek and Latin word roots to help demystify those long botanical names. For instance, the common Forget-Me-Not’s botanical name is Myositis. Myosot means mouse and otis means ear…the person or group that found and named the common Forget-Me-Not evidently thought the flower looked like mouse ears. Pretty simple. The world of botanical names is simplified when you know the origins and back-stories.