Sunday, July 27, 2014

the hidcote ultimatum

One of my favorite plants ever, is lavender. I'm not alone in this. When I proposed my one-plant challenge to my friends, one of them said that if they had to have a garden with just one plant variety, it would be 'Hidcote' lavender. 'Hidcote' has a lot of things going for it. It has very dark violet flowers, which I particularly love. It also has a very compact growth habit and it produces basal shoots (as compared to the x-intermedia hybrids like 'Provence' and 'Grosso' which get rather rangy with time) and it reblooms in the fall. I've been researching the many, many varieties of lavender and I keep coming back to 'Hidcote' (it doesn't mean that I'm not going to plant other varieties though!). Of course I could never have a garden with a single variety of plant, and one of my favorite combinations of all time is white roses and 'Hidcote' lavender.

I planted a rather large number of 'Hidcote' in my yard, a few last year, and many more this year. It has become obvious that 'Hidcote' is a seed grown strain (most named cultivars of lavender are cutting grown, and thus identical), with the plants showing very different growth patterns. Of the couple dozen plants I planted, three of them are 'Hidcote Supreme', a supposedly improved seed grown strain. So far they seem to be a little more uniform than the 'Hidcote' that I got from Plants of the Southwest, and have the rather strange habit of growing vigorously from the basal shoots in the spring, but not much from the pre-existing branches. The new green growth poking through the older silver leaves looks odd to me. Otherwise they seem about the same size and color. They are overall much less vigorous, but the seedlings of regular 'Hidcote' are so variable that some are much less vigorous and some much more so.

Of these seedlings, one has shown exceptional quality. All of the lavender in the neighborhood is done for the season, including almost all of mine. This one, however, is blooming away. All the photographs except the one above is from today. This photograph above is the one I showed back in April, when it was a 2" tuft that had survived the winter. It is now about a foot across.

Although it started blooming with the rest of the 'Hidcote', this one has just continued to bloom, the old flowers dropping off, but leaving some still-purple calyces (seed pods?), as you can see in the photo below.  Its vigor and long season is impressively better than the other 'Hidcote' and also vastly better than 'Hidcote Supreme'. I've got to propagate this one, but in the past, I have had not-so-great results from cuttings, even though everywhere I've looked, people say lavender cuttings are easy. This one seems worth the try.

Addendum: Just to show what the other lavender are looking like, for comparison.

Old 'Hidcote' which reblooms well in the fall

'Hidcote Superior'

'Hidcote' planted last year


  1. I had a few 'Hidcote' off my side patio, a couple died without enough water - to think I told people in 1995 that lavender is a plant more landscapes should use! But I forgot that 'Hidcote' was your one plant ultimatum answer, but your examples all look fine to me.

    1. Actually my single-plant challenge answer was Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso' and Anne chose L. 'Hidcote'. I still like 'Grosso' but 'Hidcote' has the benefit of blooming twice, and growing new basal shoots, whereas 'Grosso' does not. The bigger size makes 'Grosso' the focus of a planting, whereas 'Hidcote' works well in a supporting role, although it can work also as a star. For cooking, 'Hidcote' is better, for perfumery and cutting, 'Grosso' may be better. For that reason, 'Hidcote' is edging out 'Grosso' in my garden now. I may have to hybridize my latest, and produce an even better plant. Then I would have 'Hidcote', 'Hidcote Supreme', 'Hidcote Ultimatum' and 'Hidcote Legacy'. Hmm, I think I'd rather name it 'Jason Bourne.'