Documents: Special Interest: Gardening In England:

The First International Lavender Conference
by Nicole Russell
August 2, 2009

Lavender has long been associated with wonderful images of purple fields across the English countryside and by its distinctive heady scent.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) will be participating in the First International Lavender Conference being hosted by Cambridge University Botanic Garden and held at Clare College between 6 – 11th September 2009.

The conference will cover advances in our understanding of Lavandula from classification and cultivation to new breeding techniques and the impact of pests and diseases for growers. Dr. Andrew Salisbury, RHS entomologist, will be examining the destructive role of the rosemary beetle, Chrysolina americana.

Dr. John David, RHS Head of Botany, will speak on the critical need for correct naming of cultivated plants which underpins all other research. John says, “Since lavender is one of the UK’s most popular garden plants, it is not surprising that the RHS has a great deal of interest in it, from its oldest herbarium specimen which is a lavender dating from 1731, to the trial of lavenders which it held from 1996-2001, and why we are keen to play a part in the First International Lavender Conference.”

Scented lavender oils are an important crop and are used by many people to relieve stress and anxiety. Their therapeutic role will be a major theme with a keynote presentation by Heather Cavanagh of Charles Sturt University, Australia.

Conference organiser, Dr Tim Upson, co-author with Susyn Andrews of the authoritative book on lavenders, The Genus Lavandula and Curator of Cambridge University Botanic Garden says, “We hope the conference will appeal to anyone with an interest in Lavender, from gardeners to professional growers. The sessions and trips will highlight some of the important and exciting advances in classification, breeding and oils that have been made in recent years.”

Visits to look at the practicalities of growing and farming lavender have also been arranged to Norfolk Lavender, the UK’s premier lavender farm and to Downderry Nursery, whose wide range of cultivars have been displayed at RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower shows. At the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Dr Tim Upson will lead a practical lavender identification workshop with the emphasis placed on untangling the tender species that are often confused. The workshop will make extensive use of the Garden’s first-class scientific collection of lavenders, many of which have been collected by Dr Upson during his field research trips to Spain, Morocco and Algeria.

The conference has limited delegate spaces available so please book soon. For more information please visit: http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/Lavender%202009.html

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