Our Lavender

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Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 39 known species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Lavender is identified as an aromatic evergreen shrub with leaves and flowers that contain scented oil. The spikes of flowers are purple, and less commonly pink or white. Lavender's fragrance is comprised of 180 different constituents and is a staple of the perfume industry.

We currently have over 4500 plants under cultivation and are in the process of preparing more fields for planting. We only use organic farming practices.

We grow Lavendula angustifolia (English Lavender), which produces the finest oil for perfumes and culinary uses. Our varietals include Violet Intrigue, Folgate and Maillette.

We also grow Lavendula x intermedia, which is a hybrid bred for the highest essential oil production and is excellent for dried lavender bouquets and sachets. Our varietals include Grosso, Phenomenal and Super.

Fresh cut Violet Intrigue
(it really is this purple!)
Fresh lavender ready for distilling

History of Lavender

The history of lavender goes back some 2500 years. The ancient Greeks called lavender nardus, after the Syrian city of Naarda. The Romans first called it lavender which may have come from the Latin verb “lavare” which means “to wash” or from the word “livendulo” which means “livid or bluish." People in India called it spikenard, which referred to the shape of its flowers.

 

The earliest known use of lavender comes from the ancient Egyptians, who used it in embalming and cosmetics. During feasts and festivals, ancient Egyptians wore unguent cones (funnel-shaped blocks of scented wax) on their heads. They were made of beeswax or tallow, and scented with herbs and oils. Attached using resin, these cones would slowly melt, cooling the head and permeating the person's hair and clothes with perfume, as well as repelling insects. When the tomb of Tutankhamen was opened, jars filled with unguents containing something resembling lavender were found.

Ancient Egyptians with unguent cones
Pedanius Dioscordes, 40-90 CE

The ancient Romans recognized lavender for its great healing and antiseptic qualities and for its usefulness in deterring insects. The first written record of the healing uses of lavender appears to be that of Dioscorides in 77 AD. Dioscordes, a Greek military physician under the Roman Emperor, Nero, collected medicinal plants from around the Mediterranean. He described these plants and provided information about their medical uses in a 5-volume work entitled De Materia Medica. Lavender, he noted, when taken internally relieved indigestion, headaches and sore throats. Externally, lavender could be used to clean wounds and burns or treat skin ailments.

 

Roman soldiers took lavender on campaigns with them to dress war wounds. Lavender was strewn on the floor to sweeten the air, fumigate sick rooms and as incense for religious ceremonies. Romans perfumed themselves, their clothes and furniture with lavender oils and perfumes.Women also hung lavender next to their beds as an aphrodisiac.

Lavender's medicinal properties were mostly lost during the Middle Ages, although it was grown in the herb gardens of monasteries. The German nun, Hildegard of Bingen, advocated the use of lavender water, a decoction of vodka, gin or brandy mixed with lavender for migraines, and lavender as a deterrent for lice.

 

During the Renaissance Queen Elizabeth used lavender in tea to treat her frequent migraines and as a perfume. Shakespeare mentions lavender in some of his plays. In Tudor England it was grown in domestic gardens. Usually it was planted near the laundry room and linens and clothing were laid over the plants to dry while absorbing the fresh scent. Lavender buds were placed among linens, sewn into sweet bags, used to freshen the air, used to repel insects, and mixed with beeswax to make furniture polish.

In 16th century France lavender was regarded as an effective and reliable protection against infection.

In the 17th century lavender was found in most herbals as a cure all. The great English herbalists Gerard, Parkinson and Culpepper all wrote about lavender. Great interest was generated and lavender street sellers appeared. Prices were high during the Great Plague of 1665 when lavender was thought to protect against the plague. Graverobbers washed plague victim’s belongings in Four Thieves Vinegar, which contained lavender.

Queen  Elizabeth, 1533-1603
Lavender Eau De Toilet
Yardley of London

Colonial Americans grew lavender and it was prized then for all its varied uses.  Lavender was once a virtual medicine chest in every home.  It was used for everything:  as a nerve stimulant and restorative, for the relief of muscular aches and pains and sprains, to induced peaceful slumber and ease ache of rheumatism and nervous headaches, to promote appetite following illness and to relieve flatulence!

Queen Victoria loved lavender and it became very fashionable during her reign. She even appointed Miss Sarah Sprules "Purveyor of Lavender Essence to the Queen,” and Yardley and Co. of London provided the Queen with many lavender products.

Lavender oil was extensively used as an antiseptic in WWI and WWII when surgical supplies became scarce.  Lavender farms in England were asked to contribute to the cause.  By the mid-twentieth century as many Americans no longer gardened or cultivated herb beds, the knowledge of the uses of lavender and other herbs waned.  With increase of foreign travel in the second half of the twentieth century, the back to small farming movement and the increased interest in natural remedies, lavender (and the use of essential oils in general) has returned to the United States in a big way. 

 

Lavender farms can now be found all around the United States and world.  Its widespread presence is understandable due to its beautiful flowers, its alluring scent and its extensive uses.

Medicinal, Therapeutic & Practical Uses

Lavender is grown commercially for the extraction of its oil from its flowers and to some degree from its foliage. The oil is obtained through a distillation process and is used for many different things.

Lavender is:

  • a natural antibiotic

  • a natural antiseptic

  • a natural antibacterial

  • a natural anti-inflammatory

  • a natural anti-fungal
  • a natural anti-depressant

  • a natural sedative

  • used to treat minor burns & scalds

  • used to treat cuts & grazes

  • used to soothe insect bites & stings

  • used to soothe skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema & acne

 

Most other essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier or base oil, but lavender is so gentle it can be used directly on the skin in some circumstances.,
 

Popular lavender scented products
Lavender Botanical Drawing

Lavender is used to soothe headaches, migraines and motion sickness when applied to the temples and it is frequently used as an aid to sleep and relaxation. A drop in the bath or on a pillow at night can help you have a more restful sleep. In a carrier oil, lavender can be used as a massage oil to relieve stress, aching muscles and joint pain. Lavender oil can also be used used for internal medical conditions, such as indigestion and heartburn.

Lavender is also a popular scent in soap, lotion, natural cleaning products, laundry soap, candles, deodorants and air fresheners.

Dried lavender flowers are used extensively as fragrant herbal filler inside sachets to freshen linens, closets and drawers. Dried lavender flowers have also become popular for use at weddings as decoration and as confetti for tossing over the newlyweds.

Culinary Uses

As a member of the mint family, lavender has been used for centuries in cooking and baking, either by itself or as an ingredient in Herbes de Provence, an herb blend that captures the flavors of the sunny south of France.

Lavender delivers a floral, slightly sweet and elegant flavor to salads, soups, meat and seafood dishes, desserts, cheeses, baked goods and dessert. For most cooking applications it is the dried flowers that are used although the leaves may also be used. The flowers yield abundant nectar from which bees make a high-quality monofloral honey produced primarily around the Mediterranean, and is marketed worldwide as a premium product. The flowers can be candied and are sometimes used as cake decorations and is also used to make "lavender sugar" which can be used in baked goods. Lavender flowers are often blended with black, green, or herbal teas as well.

Recently lavender has become a popular ingredient in cocktails in the form of lavender syrups, infused alcohols and even added to drinks in fresh or dried form.

 

The Lavender Cookbook by Sharon Shipley is a great place to start for those interested in cooking with Lavender. Also, try these five delicious cocktails from Food & Wine too!

The Lavender Cookbook
by Sharon Shipley

8854 Martin Rd, Santa Cruz California 95060

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