Late June: In the Lavender Field

Hauser Creek FarmI've spent so much time harvesting lavender this month that I've hardly had time to write. We've also been busy with market days at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market and at Reynolda Village. From our amazing customers, I've heard some interesting, if not funny, stories including one about lavender as a natural mosquito repellent. I'll admit that I really enjoyed the story from the woman who overdosed her roast chicken with lavender, thinking it was rosemary. Botanically, lavender is a perennial with a lifespan of many years when cared for properly. I continue to be amazed at its versatility. Every part of the plant is useable, including the dried, de-budded stems which make for interesting floral arrangements or fragrant kindling for the grill or fireplace.

As a cut flower, fresh lavender can be short-lived. The stems last about 3 days in water. Refresh the water daily and snip the ends each time. Without water, the stems can be beautifully displayed indefinitely, and the fragrance remains just as long!  

The 4th of July is coming up next week, and you can be sure lavender will be on our table in one form or another. My hope is that you'll be inspired to try lavender in your home, too. 



How to Bundle Fresh Lavender Stems

Lavender is coming on strong at Hauser Creek Farm. Some days I catch myself just listening to the din of bees, busy at work in the blooms. At market this past Saturday, I took a big basket of loose lavender stems en bulk. Some folks seemed to enjoy the opportunity to buy a little or a lot, depending on mood. Regardless of the amount, bringing lavender indoors adds a whole other dimension to its beauty. Generally, once the stems come under the clippers, I bunch them up into bundles and then hang them upside down to dry in our barn. The bundling process is simple: First, grab a handful of stems. A rule of thumb is to look at your wrist and then fashion a bundle a little smaller than that. Some references suggest no more than 100 stems per bundle (to prevent mold from developing). Holding the lavender bundle in one hand, take a rubber band and wrap it 3 to 4 times around the stem ends. The advantage to using rubber bands is, over time, as the stems dry they shrink, and so does the rubber band. Of course, there are other methods to bundling lavender, but the rubber band technique is my favorite. Once bundled, lavender can be hung in any room in your house or placed in a vase. Let the fragrance of fresh lavender fill your home!

A few musings on lavender, love, and weddings

Hidcote lavender bouquet from Hauser Creek FarmMaybe it's because lavender is intensely fragrant. Then again it could be because it adds a decidedly chic element to any occasion. Of course, I'm a little biased when it comes to lavender, but it has long been associated with love and is a popular flower choice among brides. Lavender conveys a message of devotion and symbolizes purity and luck. In addition, purple is the color of royalty, conjuring up elegance and luxury.

Some sense of this quality in lavender seems to have been realized through the ages, as far back as the Bible. It is thought that the queen of Sheba presented King Solomon with lavender to win his favor (1 Kings 10:10). Legend holds that lavender is a holy safeguard against evil. Whether or not any of this is true is immaterial. What really matters is that lavender is versatile, beautiful, and uniquely fragrant. Whether alone or mixed with other fresh flowers, the long stems are used in bouquets, and the buds, when dried, are popular as wedding confetti. When stepped on, they pack a punch of fragrance - the scent lingers long after the bride and groom have departed. Another bonus: The buds are environmentally friendly. So, clink! Here's to lavender!