Three years ago Matt and I visited Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Gardens in early summer and wandered among the beautiful purple fields. Ever since we’ve returned every year, and even attended their annual Days of Wine and Lavender in late June which takes place under the oaks and among the lavender fields. It’s a beautiful event with gourmet food vendors pairing their lavender infused appetizers with the local wines, definitely worth a day trip in June if you’re in the area!
Lavender has been cultivated and grown for centuries and its a flowering plant that has long been a favorite through the ages for its beauty, scent, culinary and therapeutic uses. I’m a huge fan of this botanical, I have two dozen Provence lavender plants in my yard that I harvest every summer – I keep the buds for making sachets and dry several bundles upside-down for future use.
I asked if the specialist at Matanzas Creek would answer some questions about the growth and care of lavender, and today Pat Ross is the expert answering some common questions about the care and growth of lavender.
Hi Pat! Tell us your role in lavender production at Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Gardens?
I oversee the production of all of our lavender products and packaging, developing the unique packaging and marketing the products to spas and retail stores. We sell our lavender products online, you can find all of them in our retail store.
What are the most popular varieties of lavender and how can you tell them apart?
Our large garden is both varieties of Grosso and Provence lavender. ‘Provence’ is a lighter shade of lavender used for culinary purposes. The ‘Grosso’ is a deeper shade used because the fragrance is important in sachets, bouquets, soap products, etc.
In what regions does lavender grow successfully? What are some general care guidelines you can share?
Lavender plants will grow in a wide range of conditions, but do best in full sun and well-drained soil. For best results, we recommend amending your soil with a small amount of compost and a couple of shovels full of sand and rock. The sand and rock help provide drainage, and good drainage is a critical factor in growing lavender.
Established plants are extremely drought resistant, but you will need to supply water to newly planted ones; however, be sure not to overwater. One of the most common mistakes we see people make is overwatering new plants in the spring. Let the soil dry between watering times, or the plant will perish quickly. On a 90 degree day, we water for 15 minutes.
Lavender does not like “wet feet”. It is dampness, more than cold, that kills lavender plants. Humidity can also be a problem – make sure you don’t crowd the plants, so air can freely flow between them. Here at Matanzas Creek, our rows are 5’ wide and the plants are 3’ apart. In colder areas, where the ground often freezes, it is beneficial to add a layer of mulch to help protect the roots.
When and how should lavender be harvested?
Your lavender plants will look much better if long stems are cut back to the center mound of the plant within 45 days of the full bloom. The striking half dome shape of Matanzas Lavender plants is achieved by this early harvest and a late fall pruning deep into the mound of the plant. This also helps prevent the formation of woody stocks.
What are the various culinary and therapeutic uses for lavender?
There are hundreds of recipes that can be found online from desserts to rubs to stuffings. It is a powerful herb compared to others so less is more when cooking with it.
Fragrant lavender buds have a relaxing effect and are a wonderful sleep aid.
Lavender has long been known for healing factors as well. Pure essential lavender oil is a natural antiseptic that can clean a wound or lessen the discomfort of mosquito bites or bee stings. Its healing of burns is nothing short of amazing. When applied to the burn area, the pain will significantly dissipate and resist blistering.
Thank you Pat for taking the time to share such valuable tips on growing and caring for lavender.
And today there’s a surprise giveaway!
The kind people of Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Farm are offering three winners a culinary gift basket of lavender products shipped to your door.
It includes . . .
To be eligible to win one of the three culinary gift sets, simply leave a comment on this blog post!
US and Canada only, three winners chosen at random. Giveaway expires midnight PST on August 10, 2013. By entering this giveaway you agree to this site’s giveaway policy and Official Rules of Entry.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.
Winners: #192 Laura J. #307 Judy W. #520 Cathy L. Winners notified via email.