Lavender is a lovely aromatic plant that can be purchased in dried form or grown in home gardens. It exudes a resinous camphor, and can be applied hot in compress form to allay local pains. A few drops of the essence of lavender in a hot foot bath will banish fatigue almost immediately! Applied on the body, it will act as a strong stimulant and may relieve various neuralgic pains, sprains, rheumatism, and even the pain of a neuralgic toothache. A few drops of this essence or the lavender oil on the forehead may dispel a headache and conquer minor mental depression. Many households in France keep an essence of lavender to treat painful bruises, bites, and aches.
The most common use of lavender is as an insect repellent. Use it as a fragrant addition to potpourris for closet and drawer sachet. Since mosquitoes and midges hate the smell of lavender, you can deny them access to your person by slipping a cotton ball dipped in lavender into your pocket or by spraying lavender water over the patio.
One of the most refreshing uses of lavender is in a home cosmetic vinegar. Add a handful of lavender flowers to 2 cups of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Add 6 cups of rose water. You may add rose petals or jasmine petals. Let the flowers steep for a week, but shake and turn the liquid each day. Strain off the flowers. This vinegar may be used on the face to restore the acid mantle, or on the body to restore energy. Vinegar is an excellent aid for oily skin.
All parts of lavender are fragrant, but oils are made from the flowers. While you don't need a sunny location, and the soil need not be particularly fertile, it must drain well. To dry these flowers pick them before they are completely dry.
Excellent sources of true English lavender (Lavendula angustifolia formerly vera) can be obtained from plant cuttings from White Flower Farm, Litchfield, Conn., 06759 (mail source), or Martin Viette Nurseries, East Norwich, N.Y.