Use fragrant lavender from your garden for its aroma, flavor or medicinal properties.

It’s an herb, it’s a flower, it’s an all-purpose plant! Gardeners love the look and scent of lavender plants. But why waste those beautiful, fine buds? When you grow your own lavender, the cut buds are as fresh as you can get and you can be sure they’re free of pesticides. So cut a few flower stalks and bring them inside. Here are just a few ways to use them.

1. Make a bundle. You’d have to have an entire lavender farm to make money selling the buds, but there are farms in nearly every state! We’re talking about bundling your stalks and placing them in a vase – as they are – to add fragrance and color to your dining table or any side or entry hall table. Or tie small bundles with a lavender ribbon to add to dinner party place settings.

2. Repel bugs, attract people. Commercial producers make an oil that goes into lavender soaps and lotions. Gardeners can make oil, but generally, special equipment works best to extract the herb’s oils. You can put dried buds into sachets to repel moths and flies, or rub some stalks on your skin to repel bugs while outside. Simmer the buds in a pot on your stove to make your house smell terrific before a dinner party or real estate open house.

3. Add scented freshness. Put stalks and leaves into a tied-up cheesecloth to steep in your warm bath. Or add lavender oil to a spray bottle to freshen up linens before guests arrive. Add lavender to a rice eye or neck pillow for a soothing aroma every time you warm up the rice.

4. Improve your health and mood. Lavender is said to improve sleep and elevate mood. And it’s said to be an anti-inflammatory, a natural way to ease pain and swelling.

5. Cook it up! Lavender can be more bitter than its scent would suggest, but using just the right amount can add a fun and different flavor to teas, jellies, potato or pasta salad, cakes and cookies. This recipe substitutes lavender for another spice, cardamom, and adds a touch of lemon for flavorful shortbread cookies.

If you love the look of lavender even more than the scent, use the buds in flower arrangements or crafts instead. It’s a great display flower for fresh or dried arrangements. In some zones, you can enjoy a second bloom in late summer if you’ve cut off the spring flower stalks.