Monday, March 9, 2009

What a difference a week makes...

I woke up this morning to a bright and blustery March Day...much more like the way I like to think about March, rather than last Monday morning when we had snow and ice covering much of the ground. We've reached that time of year here in Northern Virginia when it can be winter one day and summer the next...forgetting spring and fall altogether.
It was another work weekend at the Rinek household because of the temps in the 70's and my 300 plus lavender bushes were in bad need of pruning before they begin breaking new growth, probably by the end of the month or the first week of April. And, like every other plant in the spring, when lavender starts to "green up" it goes fast and then we are really far behind and don't get the bushes pruned as well as we hope. After years of back breaking work cutting with basic hand shears, I decided we'd try using an electric hedge trimmer or, in this case, a battery powered one. Pete stopped at Home Depot on the way home from work on Friday and started pruning lavender shrubs early Saturday morning. He didn't quit until Sunday evening. I'm not sure that I would heartily recommend this technique for pruning lavender shrubs just yet...I'll let you know after I see how prolific they are this spring and summer but, it did go faster. I think Peter's back is fairly stiff this morning and he needed a couple of aspirin to loosen up but he doesn't complain...much.

It's been a long two days of work, but I think it was well worth it. I can say that because Peter did all of the lavender trimming while I raked it up and got it down to the burn pile with some help from Kevin. In any case, Peter cut back the bushes harder than usual which I think will only benefit them in the long run. I have over 40 different varieties of L. Angustifolias and over 20 different varieties of L. Intermedias with L. Latifolias, L. Stoeches and more intermixed throughout this collection. Somewhere, in the early part of May and depending on the weather, lavenders will start blooming and continue with strong first flushes of blooms through the middle of July. Many of these bushes will continue to produce a few blooms through August and each and every bush is a site to behold when they are at their peak.

However, there is no free lunch in life and here at my house, I harvest just about every lanvender plant's flower production to hang and dry for potpourri, bouquets, sachets and pommanders that I will sell at various local fairs...more on that later. Each summer, by the time I'm trimming the flowers off of the 197th bush, with almost that many more bushes to go, I begin to realize why lavender is not so cheap to buy. It takes a lot of blood sweat and tears, literally, throughout the entire year to keep these lavender plants happy and performing well. Good pruning, especially for older shrubs, is the first step in the process. They may look brown, brittle and a little bit dead right now (that's the lavender bushes I'm referring to--not me) but in a few short weeks they will spring to life and just beholding their beauty makes the time and effort we put into lavender here at Blooming Hill all worth while.

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