Spring is apparently here, at least the calendar says so. The seeds for lavender cotton, which, by the way, is neither lavender nor cotton, have gone into the refrigerator for a two-week cold treatment. Nature has created a variety of locks to put on seeds so that they will germinate only when conditions are right for success. The two weeks in the frig opens the first lock. After that the seeds go on a special heating pad at 70 degrees to open the second lock. Two to four weeks later the first leaves, seed leaves, will emerge from the seed starter mixture. Now the seedlings will go under the special grow lights that provide the spectrum of light rays plants need for 10 hours each day. I feel like a surrogate Mother Nature. By the time the hundreds of seeds have been started, there will be three tiers of lights, and I will probably get an email from Consumers Energy alerting me that they have noticed an unusual increase in energy use.
Lavender cotton is Santolina tomentosa. Historically, Culpepper* wrote it ‘resists poison, putrefaction, and heals the biting of venomous beasts.’ Since venomous beasts have been pretty well eliminated in our herb gardens, it is now used as an accent plant with aromatic properties. Rated only down to zone 6 it will probably not survive in our zone 5 garden, and it would certainly not have survived this past brutal winter. That means it will be treated like an annual that needs to be replanted if it is judged to be a good addition to the garden. Verdict to come in the fall.
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*Culpeper's Complete Herbal: A Book of Natural Remedies for Ancient Ills; by Nicholas Culpeper
Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) studied at Cambridge and became an apothecary, physician and astrologer in London. While only the most imprudent individual would follow his dictates today without question, the Herbal remains a fascinating historical treatise regarding botanical and medical science.