The first harvest from my new lavender patch is complete….5 bunches, but don’t they look nice hanging in my shed? And 5 little bunches will provide enough lavender for a few pots of tea and several batches of lavender-walnut scones this winter, which makes me happy. The harvest didn’t take long. After fifteen years with 7,000 lavender plants that took weeks to harvest manually, this was a snap, since there are only 47 baby plants. Fifty were planted last autumn, and I truly didn’t expect any of them to survive since I did no soil preparation, and the site is not ideal (heavy clay, run-off from the neighbor’s field, a north slope that holds the snow longer than any other spot on the property.) I just needed a place to stick them and behold, there was the bare, bull-dozed slope next to the new potager, so in they went!
Imagine my surprise this spring, when 49 plants began to show growth. They not only survived, but they actually seem happy! So, instead of moving them, I weeded the patch, put down landscape cloth, and watched them grow. Most of the plants are “Abrialli,” my favorite for their wonderful fragrance, long stems and good color, which I reserved for myself, but there are a few “Sleeping Beauty,” “Victorian Amethyst,” “Imperial Gem,” “Violet Intrigue,” and one “Dwarf White” which were unsold when we closed the farm and I couldn’t bare to toss them, so in they went.
I just cut them with heavy-duty scissors, shaping the plant into a mound as I go. Harvest begins when the bees start working the flowers.
If you look carefully at the center top of the bunch, you’ll see a bee that could not be deterred from her task.
It doesn’t look very attractive without the flowers. In fact, it’s actually ugly. The plan is to add a layer of stone to cover the landscape cloth, and I’ve planted a few perennials and a small shrub island to help screen it from the house and driveway.
I’m not sure at this point it is helping the beautification effort, but hopefully it will be lovely eventually. For those of you detail-obsessed folks, there are only 47 plants left because two at the far end were actually washed out of the ground by a heavy rain before the landscape cloth went down, and I was too slow to notice and get them back in the ground. Sigh. And, yes, I’ve used leftover bits of three different landscape fabrics, but once they are covered in stone it won’t matter. When I look at it now, I see future summers, when the fragrance of the lavender will be carried into the potager, and hopefully, with the help of westerly breezes onto the deck at the house.