Friday, June 26, 2009

Still harvesting after all of these days!

 it's getting to the end of June and I have about 50% of the lavender left to cut and hang to dry. I'm not panicking because it seems as though the lavender is coming along more slowly than in years past. Perhaps because of the cooler, wetter spring.

However, every night, when I'm out there in the yard inspecting plants and deciding whether they are ready for harvesting, or not, it seems like I should be farther along than I already am. This comes from a long standing notion that I should have things already done, when in reality, I can probably take a little time and slow down and try to enjoy the task at hand.

Anyway, like every other year, I recruit whoever happens to be living in my house at the time the lavender is ready for picking...specifically Peter and Kevin. Heck, if I could get the dog to hold the scissors properly, I'd probably have him cutting lavender, too. He at least seems eager to try and he certainly loves sitting in the middle of it all, chasing honeybees and discovering bird's nests hidden within the masses of lavender blooms.

My sister Chris, who came for Kevin's high school graduation this last week, was even out helping every night of the four nights she and Jim, her husband, were here. She said she really loved helping out...Sure, anybody will say that until you realize that you are in too deep to get out and you just have to keep cutting until all of the lavender has been harvested and hung to dry because you can always do just a few more bundles and they are just too pretty and you are working on the most beautiful bundle of lavender you have ever seen...Suddenly, you realize, you have become obsessed with lavender and there is no going back. You're hooked...or I should say, I'm hooked and I love it. No matter how long it takes or how hot and sticky and buggy and muggy it gets, the harvesting of lavender at my house must go on until the deed is done for the cause is the beautiful lavender itself!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Herb Garden

My herb garden, filled with herbs and flowers both perennial and annual, is bursting with color and fragrance. I love this time, just after midsummer's eve and just before high summer in the garden. Everything still looks fresh and thriving before the daily temperatures begin to soar. New colors pop each day. The lavender has been harvested in this garden but zinnias and phlox are preparing to bloom any time, now. Scented geraniums and rosemary, summer savory, fennel and lovage each display their own unique and splendid shades of green. There's also butterfly weed, yarrow and nasturtiums all vying for attention as well. The poppies are performing one last swan song before they say good-bye for the season. I think I'll just sit here for the rest of the day...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lavender -- Open Season

It just never seems to stop around here. Just as I think I can sit back and enjoy the gardens because everything is finally in the ground, the lavender begins to bloom and bloom and bloom. I've been cutting Lavandula Angustifolias (english lavenders) now for a week. The pink 'Melissa' is almost all down as well as many purple varieties like 'Sara', 'Munstead', 'Hidcote Blue'--not 'Hidcote Superior'--the real 'Hidcote Blue'. 'Jennifer', 'Baby Blue' and 'Martha Roderick' have all been harvested and are now hanging in the basement to dry. A new favorite of mine is a small yet beautiful lavandula with a wonderful mounding habit, 'Thumbelina Leigh' has finished blooming as well and I plan to make cuttings of that soon.

The honey bees are buzzing everywhere and we don't seem to mind each other as they and I go on about our perspective chores in the lavender beds. Lots of rain this year has helped to produce a large crop from over 400 lavender plants. It's going to be a very busy next couple of weeks. I still have much more of the angustifolias to harvest before the Lavandula Intermedias (hybrids crossed between angustifolias and latifolias and much bigger plants, generally, than the english lavenders) and other varieties are ready which will be here sooner than I think.

Stay with me now, and I'll try to do better and show you more harvesting as we go. It's not hard to cut lavender but it is time consuming and, as far as I know, is always done by hand, even at the big commercial lavender farms around the world. So, cutting lavender can be a daunting task, but rewarding as well when all is said and done and the final product is dried and ready for use in crafts and potpourries.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Early Summer Blossoms and Blooms

Well, it's been a hectic couple of weeks with Kevin's High School graduation is coming up quicker than I'd like to think but it hasn't stopped the gardens from growing and thriving. The knot garden is taking hold and, thanks to lots of rain and cool evenings finally giving way to sun, early summer blossoms and blooms continue to show off their colors. The lavender (over 4o different varieties of L. Angustifolia's and over 20 different varieties of L. x Intermedia's with some latifolias and other hybrids mixed in) is promising a spectacular show within these next few weeks as well.

Two of the earliest blooming lavenders that have decided to pop in my yard are Irene Doyle and Thumbelina Leigh, both L. Angustifolias. This year, their blooms are ahead of even Croxton's Wild and Tucker's Early Purple, but not by much. Within the next week or so, I will start harvesting lavender all over the property to dry in preperation for potpourri and crafts. Among the pictures posted here is a bed of Irene Doyle and a close-up of Thumbelina Leigh.

And what garden is complete without cottage annuals like petunias and "Million Bells" planted among the peonies and boxwood? Their brilliance brings happy, vibrant color that compliments the emerging lavender. The place is living technicolor!