By Ryan Cornell
Cookie Burgess is used to seeing praying mantises prance about and nearly cover the side of her Maurertown house.
They like to build nests and lay eggs in her garden's lavender patch, she said, but after last winter's rough storms, she's only seen a few survivors.
Her lavender has suffered as well. Last year, she harvested 87 quarts of lavender buds. This summer, she said she'll be lucky to end up with more than three quarts.
While many know lavender can be placed into potpourri and stuffed into sachets, there's a wide array of other uses for the fragrant flower.
Burgess, who has become a bit of an expert on the versatile plant, shared how people can use lavender to keep their cool in the heat this summer.
Ice cream topping
Burgess said lavender jelly can go great on top of vanilla ice cream. She said the two flavors complement each other.
"A lot of people don't care for the taste of lavender, but I try to get them a bit used to it," she said.
Burgess said people can make lavender water by pouring boiled water over lavender buds and letting it steep for awhile.
She said after filtering the water and letting it chill, people can take a cloth dipped in the lavender water and use it to cool off or help cure a migraine.
"If a baby has a fever or is a little fussy over the summer, the lavender scent will relax them and settle them down for a nap," she said.
The next time you're packing for a hike, you might want to think about throwing in a couple sprigs of lavender, which can repel mosquitoes and flies.
Burgess said she uses a spray bottle filled with lavender water to keep away insects
"If I'm out in the yard and forget to put some on myself and the bugs are bothering me, I'll wrap up a piece of lavender stem and rub it across my arms and legs and face," she said.
Lavender can even help soothe a nagging sunburn.
Burgess said people suffering from sunburn can use a cool cloth compress dipped in lavender water to prevent blistering and peeling.
While lavender water is certainly refreshing when applied to the skin, it's also delicious when iced.
Burgess said kids especially enjoy drinking lavender iced tea with lemonade.
"Watch them mix it up in a glass and it will change colors and they get a kick out of it," she said. "Lavender and lemonade complement each other."
Rather than using a store-bought dry rub that's high in salt, a rub with lavender in it is a great alternative to spice up grilled meats.
Burgess said an Herbes de Provence, which includes lavender as well as thyme, rosemary and sage, can be used to flavor any type of meat, whether it's fish, chicken or steak.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org