Best Of The Bunch - French lavender (Lavandula stoechas)

Originating from hot, dry Mediterranean regions, French lavender makes a change from traditional lavender. With its showy bracts above the flower heads, L. stoechas is an aromatic dwarf shrub growing to 60cm tall, with narrow, grey-green leaves and short-stalked, dense, heads of tiny purple flowers surmounted by a tuft of purple bracts. There are also white forms such as 'Snowman' and others which combine two colours, such as 'Pretty Polly', which has purple flowers with white bracts. French lavender is best grown in well-drained, light soil in a warm position, sheltered from cold winds and frost. It is not fully hardy, but survives well in a sunny corner or against a warm wall, and makes an excellent container plant that can be brought under cover in winter.

Good enough to eat - Edible flowers

You can have borage or anchusa to give your salads a purple hue or to look good scattered in a fruit cup. Alternatively the bright, sizzling oranges, yellows and reds of nasturtiums can add a vibrant, peppery taste to salads, and they are all pretty easy to grow. Seeds can be sown in late spring, planted out at 10-20cm (4-8in) apart into a weed-free bed once the risk of frosts has passed. Alternatively, sow seeds directly into the soil in early summer, thinning them out once they have grown their first set of true leaves.

Harvest the flowers regularly to ensure a continuous supply, and pick them early in the day, selecting the perfect blooms to adorn your dishes.

Other edible flowers include Viola tricolor, with its deep purple, yellow and cream fragrant blooms which have a delicate, perfumed taste, courgette flowers, which can be fried and made into tempura or lightly sauteed in butter, while pretty orange pot marigolds, or calendulas, look amazing sprinkled over salads to which they add a peppery flavour.

Three ways to ... Label plants

1. Always choose a style of label that will enhance your plant collection

2. When securing labels to plants, allow for the plant to grow and never secure it around the main stem

3. Don't label everything - you don't want to turn your garden into a sea of labels. If the same plant is featured in another part of the garden, only label one specimen

What to do this week

:: Take soft and semi-ripe cuttings using non-flowering shoots of shrubs including hydrangea, spiraea, weigela, honeysuckle, pyracantha and philadelphus, as well as hedging plants

:: Sow courgettes, marrows, pumpkins and squashes directly into their growing position

:: Remove the growing points from early peas which have finished flowering to concentrate energies on pod production

:: Boost gladioli with a liquid feed every two weeks from now through to the first appearance of the flower

:: Plant 'De Caen' anemone corms under cloches for flowering in the autumn and winter

:: Deadhead border plants that have finished flowering, such as lupins, to prevent them from setting seed and to encourage them to produce a second flush of blooms later in the year

:: Pot up rooted basal cuttings of delphiniums taken last month

:: Propagate strawberries from the plantlets that form on the runners. Plunge pots of compost into the ground and peg the plantlets down into the pots with bent wire. You can cut them from the main plant when they have rooted well

:: Continue cutting back rock plants such as alyssum, aubrieta and helianthemum immediately after flowering, before they have had time to set seed

:: Layer low-growing branches of chaenomeles, cotinus and magnolia now for good propagation results

:: Continue to sow quick-growing salad crops such as lettuces, radishes and spring onions

:: During dry weather raise the cutting blades on your lawnmower and mow without using the grass box so that the clippings help retain moisture

:: Thin established seedlings of herbs such as chervil and dill to 15-30cm (6-12in) apart, according to the eventual spread of the plants