September 01, 2014
The lavender fields in Provence, France are world famous. Seas of violet span the horizon and lavender- tinged food, soaps and cosmetics dot the surrounding shops. Truly something to behold but you don't have to live in the Luberon to enjoy beautiful lavender. Cycling down a road in Banstead, England, an amazing violet haze suddenly appeared on my right: 25 acres of organic English lavender blooming to perfection at Mayfield Lavender. It stopped me in my tracks. For the next half an hour, I wandered the rows of lavender wondering how this perfect piece of heaven could exist in what seemed to be the middle of a neighborhood. Happily, for those of us with gardens measured in feet, not acres, lavender dreams can still be had, albeit on a smaller scale.
We tend to associate lavender with one particular blueish-purple hue but in fact, it can be white, pink, and all manner of pale to deep blues and violets. Despite its beauty, lavender is actually a very hardy plant. Though native to the Mediterranean, it will grow well in most full sun, well-drained soil locations which is a lucky point for those of us who want our own lavender gardens from which to harvest those fragrant flowers.
If you wish to dry your lavender, don't wait too long. Lavender is at its peak when the bottom flowers are just opening. Bundle your cut stems together, tie them with a rubber band and hang them upside down in a dark, dry location (a closet will do). Leave them there for about two weeks. Some people even dry their lavender by popping it in a vase ( without water) and letting it dry right there on the dining room table. Any flowers that fall off can be added to lavender sachets or your own potpourri, transforming your home into a fragrant breath of France (or England).
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