This is the true English Lavender. Its midsummer flowers are a dusky blue violet, the buds gray violet, on spikes about 8in long. Plants form rounded mounds of silvery gray foliage perhaps 3ft high and slightly wider, an elegant presence at mid-border or along a flagstone walk.
Many gardeners grow Lavender for its fragrance, but the genus includes several excellent garden plants that should be more widely used for their midsummer beauty and resistance to heat and drought. The cool, gray-green foliage provides a perfect backdrop for the slender, arching flower stems. Some varieties are small, others tall, but they all prefer well-drained, sweet soil and full sun. Plant them in masses or form them into small hedges, and you'll find that they are attractive and useful long after the spent flowers have been clipped off.
Lavenders thrive in the arid West but are best treated as annuals or grown in fast-draining containers in the South.