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Top 10 Summer Plants

5

Lavender

The scent of lavender is a popular favorite.
The scent of lavender is a popular favorite.
Ross Anania/Getty Images

We associate "lavender" with a color, but the word originates from the Latin "lavare," meaning "to wash" [source: Harper]. Greek botanist Dioscorides documented use of this fragrant Mediterranean herb for bathing and medicinal purposes in the 1st century A.D. [source: Castle]. Lavender oil remained popular for bathing, perfumes and deterring lice from people and animals well into the 19th century. It's still an important crop in France, both for cash and tourism.

Lavender (Lavandula), which does bear lavender blooms, likes full sun and dry conditions. This evergreen, hardy perennial isn't plagued by many pests and doesn't mind windy conditions, but soggy soil kills it. To survive in arid environments, lavender grows deep roots. It doesn't like to be moved around.

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Lavender grows spherically, achieving almost equal height and width, which ranges from 2 feet (0.6 meters) to 6 feet (1.8 meters), depending on the variety. It's an excellent plant for borders and to anchor fences and foundations in your landscape.

Could your landscape use some vertical interest? The flowering vine on the next page may help.

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