The climate of England appears to be better adapted for the perfect development of this fine old favorite perfume than any other on the globe. “The ancients,” says Burnett, “employed the flowers and the leaves to aromatize their baths, and to give a sweet scent to water in which they washed; hence the generic name of the plant, Lavandula.”
Lavender is grown to an enormous extent at Mitcham, in Surrey, which is the seat of its production, from a commercial point of view. Very large quantities are also grown in France, but the fine odor of the British produce realizes in the market four times the price of that of Continental growth. Burnett says that the oil of Lavandula spica is more pleasant than that derived from the other species, but this statement must not mislead the purchaser to buy the French spike lavender, as it is not worth a tenth of that derived from the Lavandulæ veræ. Half-a-hundred weight of good lavender flowers yields, by distillation, from 14 to 16 oz. of essential oil.
All the inferior descriptions of oil of lavender are used for perfuming soaps and greases; but the best, that obtained from the Mitcham lavender, is entirely used in the manufacture of what is called lavender water, but which, more properly, should be called essence or extract of lavender, be in keeping with the nomenclature of other essences prepared with spirit.
The number of formulas published for making a liquid perfume of lavender is almost endless, but the whole of them may be resolved into essence of lavender, simple; the essence of lavender, compound; and lavender water.