Tuesday, June 19, 2012

lavender harvest

Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso' in my garden

It's that time of year again! I've begun the lavender harvest, gathering stems while the flower buds are at their peak and contain maximum fragrance, spreading them out on old window screens to dry. My entire house smells of lavender, and I guess I do, too, because I am often asked what is this wonderful fragrance I am wearing, during the harvest season, lol... 

fresh lavender stems in vintage lavender glass 

Shown here is my favorite variety, Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso'. I've had great success growing it in informal raised beds (mounded planting beds) in my zone 6 garden. I have placed a few other lavenders throughout my garden for ornamental purposes (and for the bees of course!), but Grosso is my first choice for crafting projects and fresh bouquets, due to its amazing fragrance and prolific production of long-stemmed, high-yielding flower spikes. It wouldn't feel like summer to me without this fabulous plant in bloom in my garden. Additional lovely lavenders for zones 5/6 include Lavandula augustifolia 'Munstead' and 'Hidcote Blue'.

Lavender is best dried hanging in small bundles or spread out on drying racks
(I use window screens) in a hot, dry and dark space, such as an attic or loft.
After the lavender has dried, strip the buds from the stems to use in sachets.

When growing lavender, whether for personal use or for a small business, it is important to plant successively, adding new plants every couple years or so. This helps to ensure that your supply will remain steady, as older plants' production diminishes or ends after about 7 to 10 years. I currently have a dozen Grosso lavender plants of various ages in my garden, and my small harvest each year provides me with more than enough lavender buds to last through to the next harvest season, when once again, this versatile plant will fill the midsummer air with its lovely fragrance.

My collection of hand-sewn lavender sachet dogs, cats, bears, moons and stars. 

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