A Lavender Love Story - Against the Wind Nursery and Gardens
Corky started to grow lavender 9 or 10 years ago. I gave him seed from my plants that I had in my Nelson garden. This is when we were (in Corky's words) romancing. He wanted to grow plants that could pretty much take care of themselves while he was away at work, and I told him that lavender might be one such plant. He germinated the seeds, potted them up, grew them on, and then planted them out.
That first bunch of plants, approximately 125, was a joy to behold once they were in the ground, grew up and produced a summer show that was enjoyed greatly, and continues to be enjoyed. Since then we have planted at least 500 more plants, some propagated from the "mother plants", others purchased from another lavender grower in the valley who was thinking about not growing lavender any more.
We bought up most of his stock, and planted them, not in an orderly row-by-row in-one-field fashion, but rather as borders to other crops. Those 500 plants now surround our blueberry fields, our kitchen garden and grace the nursery gardens. This is the time of year when all of these plants really put on a great show, and in addition to that they provide our honey bees with a wack of nectar and that flavours our honey...lavender honey!
We are in the process of harvesting our lavender which we will take to Jules Delaney to distill. The end result is lavender oil, and lavender hydrosol which is the by product. This byproduct has endless uses...we feed it to the honey bees in the spring when they are waiting for the pollen and nectar that comes with flowering trees, shrubs, dandelions, and anything else that provides them with their food. We feed it to them in the fall, when the nectar and pollen are limited, and they have to get ready for the long winter ahead.
I use the lavender hydrosol in our home, in the bath, on the linens, on my face...it smells great, is refreshing, relaxes, cools and more. We also dry lavender for personal culinary use, and for sachets. Each year I take fresh cut lavender to the Kootenay Coop for 2 - 3 weeks before it has fully blossomed. All in all the we love the stuff.
The main variety we grow is an English lavender - Lavandula angustifolia. However,I cannot say for sure if it is pure because of cross pollination that may have occurred along the way, effecting the seeds, and the volunteers that show up in the gardens. What I do know is that the fragrance of the oil, hydrosol, dried lavender, and of course, the honey is marvelous.
When we were harvesting today we took note of the different colours of the blossoms which ran from dark purple to mauve, to almost white. With that colour change also came a fragrance difference.
We are about 3km north of the Winlaw bridge on Slocan River Road. Against the Wind Nursery & Gardens has a website with all the info and a map. The nursery is open for business mid april - mid-July, and from mid July through August open by chance or by appointment. After mid-july our focus shifts to food crops, and harvesting.
If anyone is interested in visiting a lavender farm it is best to do so in July and before harvest. We just visited the Lavender Farm in Kelowna last week and it was teeming with people...both to see the lavender in blossom and to buy lavender products.
It is fun to come to our nursery and gardens and farm...and you, my dear are invited!