When I looked for a plant for my garden that would be as awesome as it would be hard to kill, I settled on lavender. With a rich history – it was used by the Egyptians in mummification, by the Romans in cooking and bathing, and medicinally during the Renaissance and thereafter – lavender is surprisingly easy to care for as it, as the post’s title suggestions, thrives on neglect. Lavender is a hardy, drought-tolerant perennial that will grow in poor soils, and I should mention that the lavender you pluck from your garden will look and smell just like the lavender you can buy bundled or in sachets on farmers’ market days.
Seriously, when I carelessly mow over the lavender stalks that hang out onto the lawn, the scent is delicious! That heady, sweet, instantly-recognizable scent doesn’t just attract people, however. Lavender attracts bees, so you can’t go wrong planting one or two by your vegetable garden where they’ll ensure that plenty of pollinators stop and pick up a load before moving on. Don’t trust yourself to plant and grow it? I heartily recommend The Sawmill Ballroom Lavender Farm Guide to Growing Lavender.
What to do with it when it’s grown? You could hang it to dry, fill a few sachets, and try selling them to yuppies at the farmers’ market *grin* Or, depending on the sort of lavender you choose to grow, and there are many different kinds, you could cook with it (classic English lavender or Hidcote), make perfume with it (Provence or Grosso), make an eye pillow, use it to flavor sugar, or use it in your bath. Of course, if you’re a bit lazy like me, you might just leave it in your garden where it will emit its subtle perfume whenever kicked, mowed over, or chewed on by a cat.