Freshly sharpened secateurs glinting in the sunlight, I approached my overgrown lavender in the front garden. Loved by bees, but possibly not by mum's pushing pushchairs past its thrusting exuberances….
Today it was tamed back behind the railings with some judicious snippage and is now an even, lower growing hedge. I never want to get rid of the flower heads, so tend to leave my lavender pruning until growth restarts in spring. A quick haircut now, and it encourages the plant to grow more bushily and form that nice, dense, perfumed thicket which I love so much.
And what to do with my prunings? Some are used as cuttings, in readiness for the next generation of hedging. The current plants all started out the same way 10 years ago, so I don't think they've got too much longer before woodiness takes over completely and straggling sprawl sets in, so I need to get some replacement plants thriving to take their place in the next couple of years. The cuttings I took last spring are all looking happy in their pots and are bushing out nicely.
To take lavender cuttings, cut a 10-15cm length of non-flowering stem just below a leaf node, and strip off the bottom leaves. Fill a small plant pot with gritty compost and push the bare stem of the cutting in at the edge (helps the cutting form better roots if it's at the edge, rather than in the centre of the compost). One plant pot should accommodate several cuttings. Water, cover with a clear plastic bag secured with an elastic band and leave on a windowsill or in a greenhouse. Cuttings should root within about 6-8 weeks. You can tell when they have taken as new growth will appear at the top. If you're not sure, you can always tip the pot carefully and slide the compost out to check if roosts are appearing.
As for the rest of my copious quantity of prunings, they've been used as mulch around my working area and the compost bins. Never has the composting area smelled so fragrant!
You can never have too much lavender. If you are lucky enough to have a south facing frontage, it is the most community-minded bit of hedging you could wish for. Not only do the insects love it, the passers by never fail to comment on the menthol tinged fragrance at pruning time. So generous is it when in flower, that I don't even object to the school children running their hands along it and yanking off the odd head or two to accompany them on their way to and from school. Lavender smells gorgeous and its glory should be shared!