Lavender strikes me as lazy. I’ve got a patchy patch, and every year I imagine the long, limp limbs will blossom into purple profusion. Instead I get a few pale buds and a few pale bees, who labor on bended knee to pry out the pollen.
In spring, a pro dropped by and frowned at the leggy look. Trim, she commanded. And while the idea of cutting back to grow out seemed odd, apparently that’s the point of garden shears. Kneeling, I trimmed as told.
In summer, the stumps furred over with pale green needles, then sprouted a tangle of tendrils. Each tendril spiked a small green rocket, tight with tiny green bombs. The bombs burst into purple profusion.
I hummed, happily. The bees hummed, deliriously.
In fall, as the blooms bristle, I shake out their confetti. In winter, it will scent the kitchen sweet and sunny. I shake up a toast to the fragrant flowers: honey, lemon, gin and lavender. Truly, it’s the bee’s knees.
The Bee’s Knees Cocktail
1/4 cup gin
2 tablespoons honey syrup (recipe follows)
Zest: Use a vegetable peeler to strip off a wide length of zest from the lemon. Use a five-hole zester to strip off some skinny lengths of zest. Halve and squeeze the lemon.
Shake: Measure gin, syrup and 2 tablespoons lemon juice into a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake. Strain into a glass.
Improvise: Say you can’t find the cocktail shaker. Use a pint jar with a screw top. Not as stylish, but does the trick.
Garnish: Remember that wide strip of lemon zest? Fold it, yellow-side down, over the rim of the glass. Slide it around the rim. Garnish cocktail with a strip or two of the skinny zest. Or, if you’ve flavored the honey syrup, garnish with a few thyme leaves or lavender blossoms. Drink up.
Honey syrup: Measure into a small saucepan 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup water. Set over medium heat, and stir until honey has dissolved, about 1 minute. You can get fancy here and add a few dried lavender flowers or a stem of fresh thyme. Let cool. Strain (if need be). Makes about 1 cup (enough for eight drinks).