Lavender is of an ‘especially good use for all griefs and pains of the head’
John Parkinson, 1640
Lavender is a divine flower. Humanity used it for centuries because of its scent and medicinal qualities. It was mentioned in the Bible, by Pedanius Dioscorides, a famous ancient physician, in his pharmacopoeia De Materia Medica, widely used by Egyptians and Romans and during the Middle Age. Now the aesthetics of lavender fields fuelled the popularity of this plant among the millennials.
From the very beginning I just wanted to remind you: please respect the nature and the work of field owners! Don’t trespass, don’t pick up the flowers unless you’re allowed to and don’t ruin the plants!
You might’ve been surprised, but actually lavender was grown in England for a long time and was loved both by royalty – Elisabeth I and Queen Victoria to name a few – and by ordinary people.
There are a few destinations were you might like to go to such as Mayfield Lavender in Banstead, Cotswold Lavender, Cotswold Lavender, Norfolk Lavender, Yorkshire Lavender etc. I have a tender feelings towards the later one as it was my first Yorkshire Lavender field ever! I remember how surprised I was to learn about different colours of lavender and to try lavender ice cream 🙂
Important: lavender season usually falls onto the period from the end of June to late July, but in may vary depending due to weather conditions. I strongly advise you to check the website of social media of your planned destination in advance to get an idea of what’s the best time to come! Besides that, the earlier you arrive the better, as always 🙂
But this year we went to the Castle Farm in Kent, the largest lavender farm in the UK, during the peak season, and it was absolutely magical!
It took us about 90 min from London by car. We were kindly offered to join the one hour tour around the lavender field were we learnt about the varieties of plants which are grown there and about the oil extraction process.
We have also been told about the history the farm which began with James Alexander who transported milking cows from Scotland to this area – and the farm is still owned by Alexander family. The Hop Shop was founded in 1985 – and now it produces, apart from lavender, meat, hops, pumpkins, and apples.
A very surprising thing for me was that actually the lavender fields in Provence are not lavender fields, but lavandin (or lavendine) fields! Lavandin is a hybrid plant of Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) and Lavandula latifolia (Portuguese Lavender), its other name is Lavandula x Intermedia. It’s much taller and is a sterile plant in contrast to lavender. It has much more commercial use than lavender due to its scent (sachets that are sold in Provence usually contain Lavandin) and is rich in camphor. On the photos below:
- 1st photo: a drawing showing lavandin and various types of lavender by an unknown author
- 2nd photo: Lavandin left, Lavender right (we were allowed to pick these on our tour)
- 3rd photo: lavandin field
- 4th photo: lavender field
Moreover, usually when you refer to lavender, you mean English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, – in contrast to Lavandin which is sometimes called French lavender. So complicated, right? But I like how patriotic this part of text sounds :)))
At the end of our tour we learnt how the oil is extracted from the most highly scented type of lavender – Maillette lavender and about the oil distillation step by step. Can you guess how much oil this year will bring?
Not only a lavender…
A small market of local products took place around the Hop Shop too featuring of course lots of lavender: lavender jam, lavender chutney, lavender ice cream, lavender tea and so on but also honey tasting, garlic-related products, and jewelry!
On our way home our car was filled with lavender and fresh berries scents – a day well spent indeed!
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Anna | London & Beyond
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