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Published: Sunday, July 13, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

It's a great time of year to fall in love with lavender

The Pacific Northwest is a great place to grow this versatile, tough and fragrant herb

  • Rows of lavender at the Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim. The farm is a 12-acre certified organic lavender farm and contains more than 15,000 plant...

    Andrea Brown / The Herald

    Rows of lavender at the Purple Haze Lavender Farm in Sequim. The farm is a 12-acre certified organic lavender farm and contains more than 15,000 plants of more than 50 varieties.

  • Grosso is a hybrid of English and Spike lavenders and is the perfect lavender for the Northwest: hardy, strong fragrant and blooms in mid-summer. It i...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Grosso is a hybrid of English and Spike lavenders and is the perfect lavender for the Northwest: hardy, strong fragrant and blooms in mid-summer. It is great for drying and crafting. If you have a brown thumb, this is the plant for you.

  • A blend between lavandula and intermedia strains of lavender, Phenomenal has spikes of deep lavender and extremely fragrant flowers that rise above 30...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    A blend between lavandula and intermedia strains of lavender, Phenomenal has spikes of deep lavender and extremely fragrant flowers that rise above 30 inches in height. It has very tight and dense foliage and a high oil content. Phenomenal is known to be tough and adaptable and blooms in the summer. Great for beds, borders and patio pots.

  • Sweet Romance is an English lavender that is known for its intense fragrant flowers and beautiful appearance. Popular because of its ability to bloom ...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Sweet Romance is an English lavender that is known for its intense fragrant flowers and beautiful appearance. Popular because of its ability to bloom the first year, Sweet Romance begins to flower typically in early summer and lasts into early fall. The grey-green foliage forms a compact mound topped with plump, rich violet purple flower wands that are perfect for cutting for fresh and dried bouquets.

  • Compact, highly aromatic, Bright Luxurious or Luxurious is Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and is heat and humidity tolerant. More fragile than ...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Compact, highly aromatic, Bright Luxurious or Luxurious is Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and is heat and humidity tolerant. More fragile than common lavender,​ but harsher and more resinous in its oils, Luxurious has dark, vibrant purple blooms. It is good as a patio or container plant and can be used as fresh cut or dried flower.

This purple flower is more than a pretty bloom.
The fragrant herb lavender does it all: freshens closets, flavors foods, soothes nerves and spices up the bedroom. It's a potion for little old ladies and ice cream junkies.
Now is the time to get your purple haze on. The Sequim Lavender Festival on July 18, 19 and 20 has three days of farm tours, cooking demos, products, plants and everything lavender.
Snohomish County is no Sequim, but lavender grows well here and local nurseries sell varieties not found at big box garden stores. Options come with names such as Violet Intrigue, Sweet Romance and Phenomenal.
Which is the best?
“I always urge people to pinch and sniff to see what they like,” said Kip Litehiser, edibles expert at The Plant Farm at Smokey Point.
Go ahead, take a bite. It's a member of the mint family.
Lazy gardeners, this bud is for you.
“It's easy maintenance. It is the plant that loves to be neglected,” said Plant Farm employee Jessie Dionne. “It's lovely because it blooms all summer long and keeps its foliage all winter.”
Dionne said people like the good memories it evokes. “Like their childhood with their grandparents playing with them.”
Lavender's role in medicine and mythology dates back centuries. It was used for mummification, to ward off evil and protect against the plague.
These days, it has plenty of fun uses.
The syrup is a popular flavoring for coffees to cocktails. Snoqualmie Ice Cream in Maltby scoops up a gourmet French Lavender ice cream. The lavender is grown on the farm, dried and steeped in hot cream to infuse the flavor.
And, ladies, don't forget to put those lavender sachets in your drawers. Spray it on the sheets. It's known as the “herb of love” for a reason.
Lavender is a libido booster, says Helen Yoest, author of “Plants with Benefits. An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden.” According to Yoest, the sultry smell was Cleopatra's secret weapon to seduce powerful men and that modern-day scientists have proven in lab tests the scent of lavender increases blood flow for men.
So, indulge in the purple. You decide how.
Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com

Sequim Lavender Festival

The 18th annual Sequim Lavender Festival celebrates the Olympic Peninsula's purple fields majesty with everything lavender on July 18 through 20 in Sequim. The street fair in downtown Sequim has close to 150 lavender booths, food, wine and music. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 18 and 19 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 20. Farm tours are hosted by Sequim Lavender Farm Faire and Sequim Lavender Festival. For more information, go to www.sequimlavender.org and www.lavenderfestival.com.

Lavender Margarita

  • ¾–1 cup tequila
  • 1/3–½ cup blue curacao or other orange flavor liqueur
  • ¾–1 cup canned coconut milk
  • ¼–1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1½–2 cups frozen unsweetened raspberries
  • 1½–2 cups frozen unsweetened blueberries
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon lavender

In a blender, combine the tequila, curacao, coconut milk and lime juice. Cover and turn to high speed, then gradually add berries and ice. Whirl until smooth and slushy. Pour into glasses. You can rub glass rims with lime and dip the rim in lavender sugar or salt. Add a lavender sprig for garnish.
Source: Sunset Magazine

Tips on drying lavender for cooking and crafts

1. Cut a bundle of lavender. Leave a few inches of green growth on the plant. Don't go down to the woody portion of the stem. When you have enough blossoms to fill your hand, wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the bundle, straighten a paperclip and use it as a hook to hang the lavender bundle upside-down in a dry, dark place.
2. Let the lavender dry for about a week until there is no moisture on the stems in the center. Use it for dried floral bouquets, sachets, crafts, wedding favors and cooking. After about a year of being exposed to sunlight, the lavender color will fade. Turn the flowers into a sachet and pick another bouquet to replace it.
Source: Purple Haze Lavender Farm


Story tags » Smokey PointGardeningFamily funWellnessGo See Do

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