This wonderful plant, which gets its name from the Latin ‘lavare’ meaning ‘to wash’, is best known for its intense and pleasant fragrance. It was used as a medicinal plant in the Middle Ages to treat infectious diseases, because it was believed that its fragrance could stop the spread of diseases such as the plague.
The essential oil extracted from lavender is used primarily in perfume-making and herbal therapy due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has culinary uses. Lavender flowers can be infused in milk for preparing lavender creams or ice creams.
Originally found in the mountains of the Mediterranean region, lavender is now cultivated across the world in sunny areas with dry, rocky and well-drained soils. Even Quebec has its share of such lavender farms. Go and spend a day there with your family, as their fields are currently in bloom. In my opinion, the place nearest to Montreal that you should visit is La Maison Lavande at Saint-Eustache.
Originally published in the Journal de Montréal on July 13, 2013.