(Editor’s note: Why a story on Lavender uses? Because when did a story on Lavender Festivals earlier this month, we realized many people have their lives enriched by this lovely flowering plant! It’s time to talk about Purple Power!)

Unlike some of the other senses, the sense of smell is a time machine that can immediately transport you back to a different place.

The ones below have all made my Top 5, but if you close your eyes, they might be on your list too.

1. Freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies
2. Newly cut spring grass
3. Lavender
4. A campfire
5. Coffee

Lavender is a relatively late addition to my favorites list since I don’t recall smelling it as a child. Nevertheless, it has earned its spot at #3, and from some informal polling I’ve done with friends and colleagues, it’s probably one of your favorites too.

So what is it that makes lavender so special? After all, many flowers are more popular (see our story on the most popular flowers among U.S. gardeners).

But, as noted above, Lavender Festivals abound around the world, while others other flower don’t seem to have them. My opinion? Lavender is not only beautiful and sweet-smelling, but also useful. So let’s talk lavender uses!

Purple Power

Lavender Uses: English Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia

English Lavender

Although English lavender is the most common variety, there are 39 species of lavender growing just about everywhere in the world. (And English lavender — Lavandula angustifolia — is actually native to the Mediterranean, particularly northern Spain).

Lavender uses range from culinary herbs in the kitchen and oil extraction (for all the delicious smelling soap and lotions everyone loves so much) to medicinal purposes and, of course, beauty in the garden.

Lavender Uses: Culinary Treats

If you want to try cooking with lavender, be sure to buy only organic, grown expressly for eating; otherwise, you may wind up eating pesticides!

Lavender Uses: Cooking with Lavender - Lavender Baking - Mortar - Pestle

Cooking with Lavender

Here are just a few dishes you can make:

For main courses, you can try Pork chops with Lavender or Seared Ahi Tuna with Pepper and Lavender Crust

Of course, after a main course, you need something sweet. How about giving Lavender Sorbet or Honey-Lavender Biscotti a try?

Lavender Uses: Oil Extraction and Medicinal Uses

Like the ancient Egyptians and Romans, we still use lavender oil in fragrance. (In fact, the word “lavo” means to wash in Latin).

Lavender Uses: Lavender Oil

Lavender Oil

Ever had an aromatherapy massage? If so, you may have asked for lavender oil since it promotes sleep and relaxation.

Yet the plant that that smells so good also has medicinal uses.

During World War I, nurses bathed soldiers’ wounds in lavender since it is known to have antiseptic qualities and it is also believed to soothe insect bites, burns, and headaches.

Lavender Uses: Backyard Beauty

In addition to all of the above, lavender is aesthetically pleasing and a beautiful addition to any yard.

Lavender Uses: Lavender Container - Lavender Bouquet - Decor

Lavender Container

You can plant it in a container or in the ground, depending on your soil and climate.

You can also buy the plants at local farmers’ markets to enjoy the fresh smell for a week and then long after the blooms fade in a drawer sachet.

There’s just nothing quite like PURPLE POWER!

(Don’t miss our story on Lavender Festivals in the U.S. and around the world!)