French vs. English Lavender-  What's the Difference?

French vs. English Lavender- What's the Difference?

French Lavender (x-Intermedia or Lavandin)

The latin name for "French" lavender is Lavandula x-intermedia or Lavandin.  "French" lavender Is big, beautiful and oil-rich.  The oil has a distinct camphor tone and is used in lotions and sprays where you want an assertive scent. Our "French" plant of choice is Phenomenal.  We've been unsuccessful with the other common "French" variety found in Canada - Grosso - which doesn't like our winter at all.   Our Phenomenal blooms a little later than our "English," beginning in mid-July and running through to the end of August. A mature and happy Phenomenal plant can be 3 to 4 feet in diameter and 3 feet tall. Our biggest plants grow on a stony hill (hummock) at the front of our farm - similar to the gravelly soil you see in Provence.   We cover our Phenomenal for winter.   We will distill 2 to 3 times the oil from one of these plants compared to any of the "English" varieties.  We are the proud guardians of roughly 4 thousand Phenomenal plants.  

English Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)

The Latin name for what is commonly called "English" lavender is Lavandula Augustifolia and it is very common because of its hardiness.  In France it is planted mainly at higher (generally cooler) elevations and it is the most common variety of plants grown in Canada.  Where did it get the English reference?  It produces a softer, more flowery essential oil that was commonly used in English perfumes going back centuries.  
These "English" lavender varieties tend to be slightly smaller than their "French" cousins, yield much less oil but are no less pretty.  In Ontario they begin to bloom in the last week of June and will hold their bloom for 3 or 4 weeks depending on the weather.  They love sunlight, need little water once rooted and can be relied on to survive up to -20 C wind chill uncovered although a good snow cover is effective insulation for those really cold nights.   On our farm we grow Folgate, Hidcote and Super Blue (it blooms twice) but rely heavily on Royal Velvet and our light pink Melissa which were both developed in Oregon - outstanding plants for the Canadian climate.  In total, we have roughly 13 thousand "English" lavender plants in their third year at the Fennario Meadows.  We use the dried buds and oil from these plants for our culinary products.