Ice cream, chocolate truffles, lemonade, jewelry, dog biscuits: lavender is in more than your grandmother’s cologne these days. Apparently it enhances practically everything. This I’m learning from two Pacific Northwest farms, where acres of purple look like the fields of Provence in summertime.
One is Lavender Wind Farm, a few miles outside Coupeville on Whidbey Island, Washington. (Check my previous post for more on charming little Coupeville.) Sarah Richards grows some 9,000 plants of lavender in many varieties, plus rosemary and sunflowers, on her 8.75-acre farm. It’s part of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, a national park that covers a big swatch of Whidbey Island and encompasses farms, hiking trails, the town of Coupeville, a state park, beaches and a lake.
From Lavender Wind Farm I can see the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island, and the Olympic Mountains. It’s gorgeous. Visitors are welcome, so I’m happily strolling the property, admiring a labyrinth lined with lavender, a gazebo, and ponds with a trickling stream. There are flowers and vegetables, inviting benches, and every view another photo op. I get a peek into the drying shed and sniff the spicy air in the gift shop. Lavender massage oil, fabulous. Lavender mustard, I’m not so sure, but willing to try it. The whole place is enchanting.
The other farm is on San Juan Island, a ferry ride away. Pelindaba is a riot of organically grown purple in summer. A demonstration garden holds more than 50 varieties of lavender, you can pick your own bouquets in a cutting field, and there’s a craft workshop for making wreaths. Visitors like to bring picnics and buy lavender lemonade and cookies to go with them. Then they browse among 240 lavender products. I never imagined one plant could be used so many ways, handcrafted from flowers and oils. Pelindaba also has a shop in Friday Harbor, where I get to sample lavender chocolate ice cream and choose among soaps.
If you can’t get to San Juan Island, check the Pelindaba shops in Seattle or Santa Rosa, California. Lavender is definitely back in favor, and flavor. But really, it was never gone; it just needed a creative boost.
(Lavender field photo credit: M. Denis Hill)