It's no surprise to those that know me... Lavender is my FAVORITE flower! It's been my favorite for many years but most particularly since I took massage and healing courses and used lavender essential oil to clean my head and hands, its scent to perfume and calm those I was working on and yes, to even flavor my tea along with mint. Its lovely lavender flower and sage colored leaves are peaceful to look at, smells beautiful and because of its camphor content, repels most plant damaging insects. It grows well with very little water and in less than perfect soil.
Here are a few things you many NOT know about lavender:
- The stem is square not round stems
- It is a member of the Mint family
- Used to scent water for the Greeks
- Root word "Lavo" means "to wash"
- During the great bubonic plague, glove makers would scent leather with lavender oil, as this was known to ward off the plague. This claim may well be true as the plague is transmitted by flies, and lavender is very effective as a repellent.
- It is antibacterial and antifungal
- In the movie A Good Year, Lavender was said to help repel scorpians!
Next I found a really great book on Amazon, Lavender the Grower's Guide by Virginia McNaughton, picked a couple of varieties that grew well in my area and started growing my own. Right now I have Grosso and Provence and this upcoming year I'm planting a couple of Munstead and one that says it is "Sweet" Lavender. I also have a Spanish Lavender shrub that smells really good but isn't the best for harvesting buds.
Last year I made a visit to Green Acres Lavender Farm in Atascadero, CA and asked A LOT of questions! Janice took me around and showed me how they harvested lavender and the process of distillation. This farm is the largest in our area growing 13,000 plants themselves and belong to Cooperative Alliance, a statewide group of lavender farmers growing over 60,000 plants statewide. They are located on 4 1/2 acrea of land that used to be a turkey farm. Please go to the site and check them out!
So why am I writing all about Lavender today you ask? Because I just completed my very first Harvest from my OWN plants! August 1st I took the flowers from all 6 of my plants. After tying them together and drying them upside down for a couple of weeks, they were finally ready to strip the flowers off this past Sunday. When the flowers are dry, you just pull your fingers down the stem in the opposite direction the flowers grow and they come right off. And here is what I got from my first harvest....
12 whole sachet bags full of the sweetest smelling Lavender you EVER smelled!
I am so jazzed that I think I will throw a few more Lavender plants in this year and see if I can double that amount of flower next year! Some things I plan to try this upcoming year are amending my soil with a little lime, planting my new plants in an area that gets a bit more sunshine each day and putting them on a drip system so they are watered right near their roots rather than spraying on water on the leaves and flowers.
My daughter asked me today what I was going to do with all these little bags. Probably put a couple in my drawers, hang a couple of sachets from hangers in my closet, one or two in my car for that Lavender fresh smell and some to give to others. I MAY even try my very own soap with Mint and Lavender.
As quoted by William Shakespeare; "There's a few things I've learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can."
I have to agree with Shakespeare...watch out world....Karen's going to be winning the lottery REALLY soon!