Lavender Love

Summer (of sorts) has finally arrived and with the warmer weather my annual battle with hordes of clothes moths has resumed. On the whole I don’t like killing bugs and spiders, but when a moth looms near my knitwear collection or wool stash there is no other option. One of the “cures” often touted against moths is lavender, so I’m using this as a good excuse to make a wreath of dried lavender to hang in the house and ward off the evil blighters.

Lavender comes from the Latin ‘lavare’ meaning to wash and its fragrant flowers are used extensively in herbal medicine and beauty products. From Roman times to the current day lavender has been added to baths, burnt for its smell and the Victorians even used to sew small sachets of it into their clothing to act as deodorant.

Sources differ about what its meaning is from mistrust to love or devotion depending on what text you consult. The idea of ‘mistrust’ stems from when the plant original only grew in hot climates and it was thought that the asp used to often be found living under the shrubs.
For me, lavender reminds me of my childhood, of sitting in the little blue and white courtyard garden that was my mother’s haven and smelling the scent of the flowers and the garden roses that climbed the walls.

Hopefully the clothes moths will have none of these positive associations and will flee once I hang up my new wreath. They are easy to make all you need is dried lavender, reel wire and a wreath frame, but if that sounds like hard work you can order one to size from me, and I also offer a wheat version or mixed lavender and wheat wreath (I’m not sure what the effect on the moths is of wheat but it looks nice!)

Crown of Weeds

Image by K. K Dundas

Image by K. K Dundas

Before Christmas I was approached by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a commission to create a floral crown for a photoshoot they were organising to publicise their March performance of King Lear. In the play, Lear is driven mad by the cruelty of his children and wanders the countryside wearing a crown of weeds.

As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud, Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds, With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers, Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow In our sustaining corn
— Coredlia describing her father, King Lear

It was a really interesting piece to create because I wanted to use dried or dying materials to mirror Lear’s mental decline. The idea being that what was on top of his head (wild and decaying materials) would represent what was going on inside his head. I love using foraged items in my work, but it was novel to be using dying materials rather than the lush blousy blooms of retro flower crowns, or pretty blossoms of circlets that I’m used to.

In doing a little research into the symbolism of the crown in Lear, I came across a blog by Jennifer Hamilton where she says: “It is usually considered an indicator of Lear’s madness or the chaos in the kingdom. But I think the weedy crown represents the promise of an alternative political order. Taken out of its dramatic context, I think a weedy crown can be worn by anyone (of the 99%!) to represent an alternative way of imaging and living in the world.” This is particularly interesting given that the RCS production of the play will take the unusual step of featuring an all-female cast.

Thanks to the talented KK Dundas for these photos. King Lear will be performed on Fri 6 & Sat 7 March at 7.30pm and Mon 9 - Wed 11 March 7.30pm. To book tickets visit