PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Lavender ‘Opal Rain’

There are many dozens of varieties and species of Lavender in the world. Very broadly speaking, they can be categorized into English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French types. English Lavenders are not from England, but are found across the Mediterranean from Spain to Croatia. They tend to be shorter (12-18 inches) and have a tremendous range of colors and scents. Spanish Lavenders are sometimes called French Lavender or Butterfly Lavender and have the little wings popping out of the top of the flower. They are slightly larger (18-24 inches) and come in interesting colors. French Lavenders are actually a cross of the English and Spanish types. They are the larger ones (24-36 inches), tend to have more pale colors, but great scents.

Confused? Yeah. So we just think about them in terms of size for a given location and desired color. There’s not a bad one in the bunch. One especially ‘not bad’ one is ‘Opal Rain’. It was discovered as a natural variation (technical term is Sport) in a field of other English Lavenders in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. It was discovered by the folds at Van Hevelingen Herb Nursery who named it and have been propagating it ever since. In honor of a family member with Parkinson’s disease, all the proceeds from ‘Opal Rain’ sold from their nursery are donated to research into the disease.

‘Opal Rain’ is distinctive with its flower buds covered in wooly grey fuzz. The flowers open in soft abalone pink, deliciously fragrant, tight clusters. The fragrance is particularly sweet & not too pungent which makes it great for culinary use. The plant grow to about 16″. Like most lavenders, it enjoys at least a few hours of direct sun along with bright indirect light – all the way to full sun all day. They appreciate water during our dry summers but don’t need a ton. Most importantly, they don’t like sitting in a soggy spot during our wet winters. Shave off a few inches at the end of summer to keep it tidy and bushy.