For as far back as I can remember purple flowers brought me joy. Perhaps it was the wood violets, purple crocus, and muscari announcing the coming of Spring. Or it may have been the sweet memories of toddling along behind my grandmother as she tended her collection of African Violets.
Then there was the lavender. Grandma loved lavender. I remember bars of lavender soap and the beautiful sachets she kept with her linens. She passed the tradition to my mother, and my mother passed it on to me. The scent of lavender still lulls us to sleep and reminds me of these amazing women every day.
I’ve tried to grow lavender in the garden many times over the years without much success. It wasn’t until I attended a class on growing herbs that I learned why. Lavender does not like to be well watered, nor does it thrive in fertile garden soils. Like great wine grapes, lavender does best when it suffers a little.
In the Summer of 2019 we decided to give lavender another chance. We planted a row of lavendula x intermedia ‘Phenomenal’, a patented variety of French lavender that can handle our humidity. It did well and even produced some late blooms. Success at last!
This year (Spring of 2020), we are adding an additional 100 plants of Phenomenal, plus 100 of lavendula x augustafolia ‘Hidecote’, an old English lavender, and 100 plants of ‘Platinum Blonde’ a patented variegated English lavender. Small plantings of ‘Sachet’ (lavendula x angustafolia), and ‘Hidecote Pink’ are under evaluation. We were also very fortunate to obtain two test plants of a new patented variety ‘Bridget Chloe’ that shows great promise in our climate.
Lavender season begins in late May and runs through mid July. We will have very limited production this year and within 3 to 4 years the plants should be in full production. At that time we will begin distilling our own essential oils and hydrosol.
In the meantime, we are testing Virginia sourced lavender in the kitchen, in addition to offering sachets, handcrafted soaps and beauty products. These products are available in our Square Store here –
Graystem Farm is a proud member of the United States Lavender Growers Association.