One of the hard things about giving up my herb farm was losing my field of lavender. The first rows were planted in 2001, with additional rows added each year. I love lavender. I love the scent, the color, the history and stories that are connected to it. I loved watching people’s reaction when they first saw the field and when they cut a big bouquet to take home. I loved watching children running up and down the rows, with parents taking photographs. I loved watching the bees and butterflies in a drunken nectar ecstasy. I loved experimenting with different varieties, over 90 throughout the years, and comparing their color, fragrance, and durability. I loved the harvest and the way the bunches hanging from the barn rafters made the entire building smell heavenly. I love cooking and baking with lavender, and sipping lavender tea with lavender-walnut scones and lavender honey butter. I love making lavender incense and lavender soap. I can’t imagine life without an abundance of lavender. So, late, late last autumn I planted the “Lavender Slope.”
In leveling the terrain for the new potager, a slight slope was created on the south side. I looked at it all during construction, thinking it was going to be a pain to mow. I thought about planting a row of dwarf fruit trees and just mulching the entire area, but decided trees would cast too much shade on the potager, and would also interfere with watching sunsets from the deck. A wildflower meadow was a possibility that I still explore, but my lust for lavender was too strong.
It will be a miracle if the Lavender Slope becomes a reality. First of all, it was very late in the season for planting. Secondly, I was really a sluggard in terms of soil prep and I know I will regret it. The topsoil was scraped away, so the planting area was hard, hard typical Indiana clay. I had to use a hammer and crowbar to make some of the planting holes. A handful of crushed stone and a sprinkling of lime was added, along with a shoveful of “real” soil and a promise to each plant that if they make it through the winter, I’ll improve their living conditions next summer. I didn’t even mulch the area with stone, because if the lavender doesn’t make it, the wildflower meadow option is still open. You can see a few of the plants poking up through the snow.
In addition to negligent soil preparation, I broke another of my cardinal rules. I didn’t even map the planting! It was one of those, “Oh, I’ll remember to do that later” moments that never happened. I know I put in two flats of “Abrialli,” because that is my favorite. There were also a few “Super Blue,” which is a new variety for me to try, and a few “Royal Velvet,” because it is so good for dried wreaths and package toppers. There were others, and I can only hope that I can still read their labels. As soon as the snow melts, I’ll go out and make an attempt.
So, stay tuned come late spring to see if there is a Lavender Slope, or just a few rows of dead stalks. Right now, it doesn’t look very promising. I broke all my own “Rules for Growing Lavender,” but just maybe I’ll be lucky. If you want more information on lavender varieties or growing lavender in Zone 5, or just want to look at some lovely lavender photos, or get some lavender recipes, visit my website at http://www.caroleesherbfarm.com.