Updated: Jun 28
Travelling to local lavender farms has been a #Number1 Staycation destination this summer. A stroll through the lavender bushes, naturally social-distanced, enjoying the scent and the buzz of the many bees has been very hot with the Instagram kids. Many of these farms sell lavender products and have lavender plants for sale. Late August is harvest time for lavender in the UK and USA, France harvests earlier in August.
Portmanteau. This French word for coatrack, is a linguistic blend of two words. In modern times, portmanteaus don't have much luck. Ill-fated couple combinations like Brangelina, TomKat, Bennifer (times two) have long disbanded. In 2020, it's doubtful anyone is still suffering from affluenza (having the problem of too much money) and clearly, fewer still can chillax. But a new portmanteau has really taken off this year: the Staycation. The idea of going on vacation while staying exactly where you already were was unthinkable in 2019. How times have changed.
Now is a great time to explore one's own neighbourhood. And if a road trip or day out is acceptable and necessary for mental clarity, try visiting local farms. Its not news to make an annual trip to strawberry farms for harvest picking, or pumpkin farms for your perfect October jack-O-lantern. But this year's hot-button ticket of visiting lavender fields came as some surprise. In 2019, if someone recommended I make a two-hour drive for a walk in a flower garden, it would have with a resounding why, followed by a forceful 'no'. However, this year is different, and a socially distant romp in a lavender field is just the ticket for an easy day out.
Lavender, known for its soothing qualities, is one of the most popular and versatile essential oils used in aromatherapy. The oil promotes relaxation and believed to treat anxiety, fungal infections, allergies, depression, insomnia, eczema, nausea, and menstrual cramps.
To cook with lavender, make a simple infusion by measuring 2 tablespoons lavender buds for each cup boiling liquid. Steep for 30 minutes, then strain. You can use this infusion to flavour lavender lemonade, iced tea, cakes, cookies, and sorbets. You can also crush the buds down with sugar to add as a dry component.
With 25-mile rows of lavender, as well as a sunflower field and wildflower area, Cadwell farm is definitely worth that extra mile out of London. As a rule, you can pick blooms to take home with you, but no picking is available this year. They do have a café and shop where you can buy plants, seeds, and lavender products. In August, the farm hosts outdoor film screenings amongst the lavender fields. July-Aug. 10-5. Booking required.
Cadwell Farm, Arlesey Rd
Ickleford, Hitchin, SG5 3UA. Nearest station Hitchin.
Close to the village of Shoreham, Castle Farm sits on the remains of an old Norman Castle dating around the 1100s.
This is the UK's largest lavender farm. The farm's 'Hop Shop' stocks lavender oils, food essences, lavender teas and honey, as well as gifts, cards, crafts, seasonal decorations and food hampers. Wednesday-Sunday 10-5pm. Booking required.
Castle Farm, Redmans Lane
Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7UB.
Remarkably, Mayfield Lavender Farm has 25 acres and is only 15 miles from Central London. They have gazebo-covered picnic areas as well as a café which serves lavender cream teas. They also sell home-grown lavender cider! There is a gift shop with lavender products and tractor rides for thrill-seekers. Open June-31 August daily, 9-6
1 Carshalton Rd.
Banstead SM7 3JA - Nearest station: Croydon
COTSWOLD LAVENDER, WORCESTERSHIRE
Cotswolds Lavender is a third-generation family farm in the Cotswolds Hills. They began planting lavender in 1999 and now have 40 varieties of lavender, 140 miles of rows and 500,000 plants.
They have a distillery on sight that is not open this year, but sell all their production online. Cotswolds Lavender harvests their plants in August, so keep this one in mind for 2021. 22 June-26 July, 10-5 daily.
HILL BARN FARM
Hill Barn Farm, Snowshill,
Worcestershire, WR12 7JY - Nearest station: Moreton in Marsh.
YORKSHIRE LAVENDER, YORKSHIRE
This family-fun farm has 60 acres of award-winning lavender plants. They also have a nursery that sells hundreds of varieties of lavender and herbs. EJ's Tea Room makes lovely lavender ice cream and cakes, and their gift shop sells lavender-based products made from their home-grown lavender oils. Open May-31 August. Please consult the website for details and booking information.
Terrington, York YO60 6PB
France is well-known for it's lavender. The main lavender fields are in and around Provence, and flowering season in the lowlands are mid-June to mid-July. Harvest is the beginning of August, so plan for 2021.
If you haven’t got a lot of time to explore all of Provence, some of the best and most scenic, lavender fields can be found in Valensole. Being at a medium altitude, the season is earlier, and the fields are harvested in late July. Valensole is a lovely village and a great place to base yourself for a few days. It also hosts a famous lavender festival and sits on a scenic plateau on the eastern edge of Luberon.
Notre-Dame de Senanque is a must-see in Provence in lavender season. It is a Cistercian abbey near the hilltop village of Gordes in Vaucluse-en-Provence. Founded in 1148 by Cistercian monks, the abbey is an interesting visit all by itself, enhanced by the surrounding lavender fields. The abbey is a working monastery, so welcomed visitors reminded that it is not a tourist attraction. Visitors must be respectful and must be mindful of photography and silence during church services. The fields can get pretty busy, so get there early to avoid crowds.
Across the Luberon, on its western edge, lies the charming Provencal town of Sault. Sault and the Sault Plateau is among the highest, and coolest areas of the Luberon. As a result, they harvest the fields mid-August in most cases.
The Museum of Lavender is in the charming dry stone village of Cabrieres d’Avignon. It is a great place to learn the history of lavender farming and production. They also have information on the distillery process and the manufacture of lavender products. From July to August, the museum showpieces Provence lavender distillation techniques from the early 1900s using a traditional open flame still. The also have a shop where they sell their range of natural cosmetics and essential oils.
The USA is a big country, and there are dozens of small lavender farms in most states. But the leading area for lavender is the Sequim-Dungeness Valley in Washington State. The rainfall and moderate climate of the valley is perfect for growing lavender, and they harvest in August.
Purple Haze Lavender Farm is an organic, u-pick farm east of downtown Sequim. They open from April to September, 10am to 5pm. The farm has a seasonal gift shop on the farm as well as a location in Sequim.
180 Bell Bottom Road
Jardin du Soleil surrounds an old farmhouse and its Victorian gardens. The farm is open daily from April to September, 10-5. In October, November, December, February, and March, opening hours are Friday to Sunday from 10-4.
3932 Sequim-Dungeness Way
Cedarbrook Lavender & Herb Farm is more than a lavender farm. Here you can buy herb plants as well as herb vinegars, potpourris, dried flowers, lavender wands, and garlic braids. Opening hours are 9-5, with shortened winter hours of 10-4.
1345 Sequim Ave.
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