Summer-blooming lavender is everywhere these days—in botanical cocktails, in aromatherapy mists, on fruit salads. The National Garden Bureau, in fact, has named 2020 “Year of the Lavender,” based on the plant’s texture, scent, beauty, and versatility.
It’s a bit tricky to grow lavender in the Midwest. Most of the 28-plus species of lavender are not reliably hardy in the Chicago area because of our cold winters and heavy, wet winter soil. The most common types are English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and Spanish or French lavender (L. stoechas or L. dentata). On your next visit to the Garden, drop by the Thomas English Walled Garden or Sensory Garden, take a deep breath, and see if you can spot the fragrant lavender.
The scent of memory
Yes, lavender is calming. But it might work in a different way than you think. Smell is connected deeply to memory, so a familiar scent can conjure feelings like nostalgia, joy, and sleepiness. If you often smell lavender when you are relaxing, your brain will associate the smell with calm.