The differences between English and French Lavender are subtle, both equally remarkable and beautiful.
French and English lavender, are the most commonly grown varieties of lavender in Ireland and both are part of the mint family. The main differences between these two varieties of lavender include their range of flower, colour, bloom time, size and level of hardiness.
English Lavender (Lavandula Angustfolia):
English Lavender is the sweetest smelling of all lavenders and therefore the source of most of the lavender oil's used in perfumes. It is often referred to as ‘True Lavender’.
English lavender is the hardiest of all lavenders, it tolerates cold winters fairly well and while it grows best with full sun exposure, it can also do well with partial sun exposure, but it does not generally produce impressive results in the shade.
The plants are smaller, slower growing and more compact, always growing to less than a metre. English lavender will bloom early in the summer with deep purple barrel shaped flower heads on very stiff stems. Many plants bloom again in Autumn. They should be pruned hard in Spring or Autumn.
From a culinary perspective, English lavender can be used for all recipes’ that call for Lavender flowers or foliage. The delicate flavour of the blossoms is a great addition to ice cream, sorbets & baked desserts.
French Lavender (Lavandula Dentata):
French lavender is a sprawling, soft, green-grey bush with longer softer leaves than English lavender. The flowers are bluish purple on long stems and can be borne in both winter and summer so that the bush can appear to flower constantly.
French lavender blooms for a longer period of the year than English lavender given enough light and warmth, however, it is not as hardy as English lavender and doesn’t like prolonged cold winters.
While still sweetly scented, French lavender hasn’t the powerful fragrance of English lavender, instead it has a strong rosemary-like scent.