Lavender, the iconic flower of Provence, is the image everyone conjures when dreaming of the south of France, though magnificent flowers bloom throughout the year.
Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae.
It seems that its medicinal properties had been known since time immemorial. Later in history the Greeks classified it in the group of the ‘precious plants’. The Romans named it lavandula a word that evolved from lavare meaning laver – to wash.
However, they also discovered how to extract its essential oil in order to produce perfumes. For centuries, it was therefore mainly cultivated for the manufacturing of beauty products.
Lavandula vera, lavandula spica and lavandula stoechas are the three species that grow wild in Provence.
The beautiful flowers of Provence have inspired many artists, perhaps most famously Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings of bright yellow sunflowers. Van Gogh painted sunflowers for the first time in the summer of 1886. Two years later, his interest re-emerged after he settled at Arles, just north of Marseille in Provence.
“I’d like to paint in such a way that…everyone who has eyes could understand it,”
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