For the Love of Lavender!
A few evenings ago, we had dinner with some friends – a long overdue catch up. It was a beautiful evening and we were sat down at the end of the garden by the river with a G&T enjoying the late afternoon sun. There was still the flurry of activity around us from the bees and butterflies and the conversation turned to the beauty of summer and those times you can just sit and relax and enjoy nature at its best. Those creatures, so purposefully and happily attending to the task at hand is always a joy to watch. With the backdrop of the cloudless sky, nothing in the garden was more vibrant and alive than the lavender bushes, buzzing with life. It made me stop and think about our love of lavender and where it all began.
My first memories of the smell of lavender are from my Grandma. There wasn’t a time when her bathroom didn’t smell of lavender. When I get a strong smell of it now, it always takes me back to childhood and summer days spent in her little garden with the steppingstones and vegetable patch. I didn’t enjoy that intense lavender smell then but now of course I have a deeper appreciation for it. I think that’s why I enjoy it blended with patchouli. Almost every perfume I own contains notes of patchouli, and the two combined fill the air with a scent that’s impossible not to love.
The Many Uses of Lavender
Lavender can be traced back at least 2500 years. The Egyptians and Romans used it as a scent for skin and hair as well as in cooking and discovered its medicinal purposes. It became hugely popular in England during the Victorian period and that led to commercial farming and cultivating of the crop.
There are so many uses for lavender. All parts of the plant from the oil to the flower can be used for an array of different things. The essential oil is well known for its healing qualities and you can turn to it for all manner of ailments. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties meaning its useful for minor burns, insect bites, and cuts as well as fungal skin infections and acne. It’s probably best known for its relaxing properties and is great for stress relief, anxiety and insomnia.
English lavender has endless culinary uses as well. It’s part of the mint family and has a herby flavor akin to rosemary or thyme which means it tastes amazing in both savory and sweet dishes. At the top of my list to try is a savory lavender bread, and a lavender sorbet. I also love the idea of an infused lavender sugar, which also looks stunning on the shelf!
The Essence of Summer
As lavender is in full bloom right now, I paid a visit to a local organic lavender farm in Surrey. Mayfield Lavender has been open since 2002 but the field itself is an original Victorian English lavender field.
Row after row of vibrant purple contrast beautifully against the luscious green of the grass and the blue sky above. You can see why it’s so popular and a perfect place for family photo ops. Standing at the top of the field looking down, there’s just a sea of purple. The air is fragranced with that sweet and fresh smell and you can hear the constant faint buzz of the bees.
It seems lavender has definitely become fashionable again and has long since shaken its old lady image. The shop at Mayfield Lavender has countless home and beauty products and honey made by their bees. Bunches of cut lavender are stacked high on the counter and the aroma is potent and powerful. The café there has an array of mouthwatering treats from lemonade to homemade scones, all infused with lavender. I picked up some lavender dark chocolate which I can’t wait to sample!
Back at home I lit and relax, while I got on with a pile of ironing. I have to say that even with my deep appreciation for lavender, the patchouli was a welcome aroma – more current and present. I’d been reminded of how powerful our sense of smell is once again. But although that intense smell is not something I’ve always enjoyed; it will never take away from my love of lavender. It really is the essence of summer. And next time I’m enjoying a G&T in the garden, I’ve made a mental note to remind myself to infuse it with lavender!