Archive for July, 2014

Some Lavender Varieties to Consider

July 25, 2014

lavender for sale

 How many of varieties of lavender are there?  According to the folks at Kew Gardens in England, there are over 400.  Those of us in climates with winters where the temperatures plummet below freezing have a much more limited selection.  The 3 most common ones I see for sale are:

 L. angustifolia    Often called ‘English Lavender’

L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’

L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’   One of the most winter hardy but needs good pruning to keep in shape.

 These varieties have good winter hardiness but are often started from seed and may not look identical if you buy several plants to put in a row.

 A project to study winter survival of lavender at the Simcoe Research Station in Ontario and headed by Sean Westerveld and Cathy Bakker.  Survival can depend on how bad your winter was and this past 2013 – 2014 we had a very severe winter and many varieties that would have survived a normal winter, did not have a chance this winter.  The 3 varieties that have done the best over the last 4 years are:

 L. angustifolia ‘Folgate’

L. angustifolia ‘Royal Purple’

L. angustifolia ‘Royal Velvet’

 A pretty white variety, L. angustifolia ‘Melissa’ has done well over the 4 years and particularly well in a milder winter.  A variety that has just been added to the trial and did well last winter was L. angustifolia ‘Pink Perfume’.  I have it in my own garden and it is a pretty pale pink with nice long stems for making lavender wands.

 Finally, there is a new variety that has only been on the market a couple of years called ‘Phenomenal’.  It is supposed to be very winter hardy and a beautiful plant.  Some of our lavender farms are planting quite a few of these this year, so we’ll see how it does up here.  I ordered one from Gardenimport and the flowers are a beautiful dark purple but my plant is quite young yet.

 If you are going to plant some lavender this year, do it sooner rather than later and it will have a better chance of surviving this winter.

Enjoy your lavender!

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More Lavender Farms Worth Visiting

July 19, 2014

Lavender is still in bloom this weekend so it is a great time to visit some farms.  The last entry shared a few near Toronto, Ontario.

Heading a few hours EAST of the city is Prince Edward County Lavender.  They have 3 acres of lavender, a lovely store and usually a great selection of plants for sale.  Lavender does better if it is planted earlier in the summer, than later.  I haven’t seen an explanation for that yet, so if you want some lavender in your garden, get it planted before the beginning of August.  I have not been there in a couple of years but they make a wonderful herb blend for cooking.

West of Toronto several more farms:  Steed and Co. and The Lavender Farm.

The Lavender Farm

The Lavender Farm’s specialty is distilling their own hydrosols – a bit like essential oils but water based.  The day I visited, lavender was being harvested and there was an ongoing demonstration of how the hydrosol was made – very good.  Although out in the country, the farm is very easy to find.  From the 401, take the exit at Drumbo and follow the road south for 12 – 15 minutes.  The farm is on the east side of the road.

Lavender Blue shop

Steed and Co. is near Port Stanley, Ontario, and in a unique part of Ontario, border a beautiful Carolinian Forest.  The garden is a delight to wander and they sell great products in the store – be sure and try the chocolate!

For more farms, visit ontariolavenderassociation.org

Lavender Farms to Visit Part 1

July 14, 2014

Lavender is in full bloom right now so it is a great opportunity to see fields in bloom. I’ll tell you about 4 today, then more in the next few days.

Campbellville
Terre Bleu
Close to Toronto, just an hour west is Terre Bleu. This lovely farm is located west of Campbellville Road, north of the 401 on Side Road 25. They are open for the first time this year but they have different varieties, all well labeled, growing in their field. Honey bees were hard at work when I was there on Saturday and their honey is sold in the store. You’ll find honey infused with lavender flowers for a stronger flavor or honey flavored as the bees collected it. I purchased the second one and it has a light floral flavor. There is an admission of $5 per person and they are only open on weekends 10am to 4pm.
http://www.terrebleu.ca

Weir's Lane Lavender
Weir’s Lane Lavender & Apiary
Located near Hamilton Ontario, on Hwy 8, south of Hwy 5 is Weir’s Lane Lavender. They also have bee hives and sell honey as well as a variety of other lavender products in their store. Their lavender infused honey is lovely as well. The lavender field in front of the store was in full bloom when I was there and behind the store is a larger field. Remember, these lavender farms are still in their early years so we are not talking about 10 acre fields but you will see different varieties, many you can grow in your gardens.
http://www.weirslanelavender.ca
Check with them for hours.

Apple Hill Lavender
Apple Hill Lavender
If you have never been to this part of Ontario, you are in for a treat. The next two farms are located near each other, just north of the town of Simcoe. It is about 2 hours from Toronto in an area of diverse agriculture. Plan to stop at the local farms stands and markets for fresh produce. Lavender took quite a beating this winter, not only in Ontario but as far south as Georgia. Apple Hill’s lavender fields show some of the winter’s damage. They grow several different varieties of lavender. Owner Jan is passionate about lavender and distils her own lavender oil, which is available in the store. They also sell pottery made on the farm by their daughter. The farm is part of an agriculture association promoting conservation projects and I’ll write more about the farm in the future.
They are currently open Wednesday to Sunday 10am – 5pm
1795 Windham Road 11, Norfolk County, ON
applehilllavender.com

Bonnieheath
Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery
Not far from Apple Hill Lavender is one of Ontario’s newest wineries. In front of the vineyards is a beautiful arc of lavender plants. You can walk among the lavenders, explore the vineyard, or walk further back on the property to the fields of prairie grasses or relax with a glass of their wine. They also produce their own lavender oils. You will feel you have traveled to another world at this family owned farm.
They are open weekends but currently during the week. Check before you go.
410 Concession 12 Townsend, Waterford ON
http://www.bonnieheathestate.com

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Visit a Lavender Farm

July 9, 2014
Prince Edward County lavender

Prince Edward County lavender

The lavender in my garden is in full bloom. A little later than usual due to the severe winter, but it is beautiful!

Time to head off to visit some lavender farms. You can find a farm near you by visiting the Ontario Lavender Growers website at: ontariolavenderassociation.org
If you are in the United States, try to visit the Lavender Festival in Sequim, Washington this month. Lots of farms and beautiful fields of lavender to see.

I’m heading off this week to Bonnie Heath Lavender (they produce wine as well!) and Apple Hill Lavender in Simcoe. Earlier this year I visited the Simcoe Research Station and what a beautiful part of Ontario that is. On the way home I’m going to Weir’s Lane Lavender and Apiary, near Hamilton Ontario. This weekend they are having a lavender and music festival. You can find details on their website: http://www.weirslanelavender.com

To harvest your own lavender to use in crafts or cooking, the best time is just as the first flowers begin to open. Cut the stalks early in late morning after any moisture has evaporated from the stems. If you are too late this year, not to worry. The bees and butterflies will relish the lavender nectar. As soon as the blooms are finished, cut the stalks off and if you have not already pruned the plant this year you can cut it back now. If you have L. a. ‘Hidcote’ or L. a. ‘Munstead’, they should bloom again this year. If we have a mild fall, I have even had lavender in bloom in October.

Get out and enjoy a lavender farm.