The use of lavender has been recorded for more than 2,500 years. Egyptians, Phoenicians and the people of Arabia used lavender as a perfume, and for mummification. In ancient Greece, lavender was used as a cure for everything from insomnia and aching backs to insanity. Lavender flowers were sold in ancient Rome for 100 denarii per pound - equivalent to a full month's wage for a farm laborer - and were used to scent the water in Roman baths, hence the plant's name, from the Latin lavare, meaning "to wash". The Romans also used lavender as a perfume, insect repellent and flavoring. Cleopatra, according to legend, used lavender to seduce Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.
In Medieval and Renaissance Europe, lavender was strewn over the stone floors of castles for use as a disinfectant and deodorant. It was one of many medicinal herbs grown in monastery gardens, used to ward off disease.
During the Great Plague of London in the 17th century, people fastened bunches of lavender to each wrist to protect themselves from the Black Death, and glove makers scented their stocks of leather with lavender oil to ward off the disease. In France, the town of Grasse has an important part to play in the history of lavender. The development of its perfume industry in the 18th century made lavender, which grows on arid soils and was collected by women and children, an important source of income for small farmers who would otherwise have been forced to join the rural exodus of the time.
At Naturellement Chouette we have planted lavender augustifolia, or 'true lavender', for its therapeutic and antiseptic properties.