Monday, March 24, 2014

Sagebrush Verses Lavender--Really???

Lavender cuttings now taking up residence in my family room since there is no more room in the greenhouse!--Oh, spring where for art thou???
Last Friday afternoon, a delivery man dropped a package off at the house while I was outside transplanting small lavender cuttings into larger pots and getting ready for our opening on April 3.  It was a cloudy, gray day, the kind of day we have all gotten a little too comfortable with since winter refuses to let go, here in Northern Virginia. As he was handing off the package to me, he looked out into the backyard and the very stark-looking lavender field and asked hesitently, "Are you growing sagebrush out there?"

Really?! "No," I chuckled.  I've had a lot of people ask me what I'm growing out there--everything from marijuana to a new variety of zinnia and all of the way to just plain, "What is this stuff, anyway?"  All of them have taken me quite by surprise and, when I was asked if it was marijuana, I thought that man was just looking for some kind of shock value response.  In fact, I kept looking around for the hidden camera.

Sagebrush growing in the Northwestern U.S.  Photo from Wikipedia.
Blooming Hill lavender field before pruning this past weekend.
However, sagebrush is another first and, I must say, the delivery man was quite sincere and interested.  He told me he grew up in Wyoming and said that those lavender plants looked a lot like sagebrush.  He said that sagebrush is very fragrant and beautiful, growing wild and free, in the Wyoming countryside. Then, he happily drove off, down the driveway and up the road, I suppose, to deliver more packages and inquire what is growing on other people's property.

A picture of sagebrush fom Wikipedia.  It looks similar to a lavender bush, at least in this picture.
Look at that! Somewhere in America, they actually DO plant sagebrush in straight rows! Photo from Wikipedia.
Well, I immediately dropped what I was doing and looked up just exactly what a sagebrush bush looks like and, don't you know it?!--At least at this time of the year, after a particularly harsh winter and a bitter beginning to spring, I hate to say it, but the lavender plants do resemble sagebrush!  Only my lavender bushes are planted in straight rows and tidy, edged beds unlike, I'm fairly certain, wild sagebrush. This, to me, should have been a clue to the delivery man that it was not sagebrush--indeed!  

Can sagebrush produce this, I ask you?!?!
However, sagebrush is a common name applied generally to several woody and herbaceous species of plants in the genus Artemisia, like wormwood and mugwort.  So to be fair, that also fairly accurately describes a lavender, except that lavender is a member of the genus, Lavandula and displays other obvious and differentiating characteristics, especially when it comes to aroma. Also, in the language of flowers, sagebrush has ties to chastity, childbirth and hunting while lavender means acknowledgement, devotion, constant personal attention and loyalty.

The weekend grounds crew; P. Lorenz and the prodigal son.
Yes.  I do more than just take pictures!
In any case, after my conversation with the delivery man, I decided it was time to mobilize the troops and get out there this past Saturday and prune the sagebrush, I mean lavender. No more waiting for spring to happen and another sagebrush inquiry to come my way.  It's time to neaten up the place and tell those devil deer to move along--to Wyoming, maybe?  Although I sure Wyoming has it's fair share of devil deer as well!  And, while I'm sure wild and free sagebrush is quite a beautiful plant to behold in the more arid regions of our country, I'll take the fussy and persnickety lavender, in my backyard, any time of the year, no matter what it looks like.


  1. Well, we don't have sage growing in our yard, but we don't have to drive too terribly far to find it. You'd be surprised how much of Washington State is desert!

  2. PS: That other plant is legal here now, too! ;)