Monday, July 22, 2019

Lavender Fields Forever

Nestled in the middle of our beautiful wine country a purple field puts a break on the green of the growing vines. That is, until the lavender is being harvested which usually happens by the middle of July. This year the harvest happened a little bit later and I got lucky to see the lavender gardens at Matanzas Creek Winery in full bloom.

The first view coming down from the parking lot is stunning, and if you want you can actually stop here and take it all in. Wouldn't it be wonderful to just hang out in these chairs, perhaps with a glass of wine?

But it's the lavender that I want to see and so I follow its call down into the gardens.

The lavender gardens have been here since 1991. Originally, a two acre lawn occupied this area - but dry California and lawn doesn't really go together. Lawns are a water sucker, and water is something we don't have in abundance where we live. When you make wine you need the water for that process, but when that water is not available, something has to go - in this case the lawn. Instead, drought tolerant lavender went in and it has become a beautiful and wonderfully scented magnet; plus its harvest fits perfectly into the wine making cycle since lavender is harvested long before the busy grape harvest starts. These two seem to be made for each other.

The lavender is hand-cut at full bloom for use in culinary, bath, body and home products. Can't you just smell it by looking at these stems?

Of the many varieties, only Provence and Grosso Lavender are grown here. Provence Lavender is stronger scented and has a deeper color whereas the Grosso Lavender is for culinary purposes. You can see the two different kinds here - the darker, purple one being the Provence Lavender and the lighter, bluer one the Grosso Lavender.

As you can see they grow more Provence Lavender than Grosso. And there's a lot here that reminds me of Provence. This house for example, that sits above the winery:

These two images certainly remind me of Provence a lot:

Did you know that lavender has been used for over 2000 years? The Egyptians used it in their mummification process and they also perfumed their skin with it. The Romans used it for cooking and added it to the water used for bathing (ah, those Roman baths!). Growing Lavender commercially started in the Victorian area with Queen Victoria's interest and passion for lavender, that was quickly followed suit by English ladies who scented themselves and anything else possible. There was a constant demand for lavender and this demand started the history of the English Lavender, that is botanically called Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula officinalis.

I love this combination of the Hot Poker's orange and the lavender's purple

In modern times, lavender was re-discovered by René Gatefosse, a French chemist who was one of the founders of aromatherapy. He accidentally burned himself in his lab and immediately immersed his arm into the sweet essential oil of lavender and noted the quick healing.  The oil was also used in World War I as a wound dressing for injured soldiers.

Next to the gardens is this interesting fountain that was highly attractive to the birds. Just watch these tiny hummingbirds, they are having a blast.

Last year I missed the lavender bloom because I was in Turkey and Ireland around that time. I'm very happy that I was able to enjoy it this summer.


Elephant's Child said...

Many years ago I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast which dried its linen over lavender bushes in the sun.
That remains a precious memory.
I sprinkle lavender oil on my pillow case - as an aid to sleep and relaxation and because it smells delightful.
Wineries surrounded by lavender sounds like a match made in heaven to me.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Get two glasses of wine, Carola, and I will come and join you, especially if we can watch those hummingbirds!

Michelle said...

I regularly use lavender oil and I can only imagine how those fresh fields must smell. Like heaven!

Red Rose Alley said...

I think you take the prettiest pictures of lavender fields of anyone I know, Carola. And my beloved hummingbird - oh, how I love this bird. I wonder why they were so attracted to the fountain. It was interesting to hear that the Egyptians and Romans used lavender for different purposes. I'm glad you got a chance to see the lavender blooms this Summer. That is a wonderful sight for sure.


Sue (this n that) said...

Wow! I loved seeing all those beautiful images you've taken of the lavender Carola. The perfume must be incredible. It was also so interesting to read your commentary.
The Hot Pokers are spectacular as you've shown them and I did love seeing the Hummingbirds enjoying themselves.

Miss Val's Creations said...

The air must have an amazing fragrance here! I would rather have a yard of lavender over a lawn any day. This plant has wonderful history. Lavender oil gets added to our homemade lotions and household cleaners. That is a fun spot for the hummingbirds.

windrock studio said...

So very gorgeous and what a great thing that they got rid of the lawns and turned to lavender! Excellent photos, as always.

Purple Pixie Dust said...

thanks for the photo's and talk about the lavender blooms. have a great day. Love the water fountain and the little birdies.

Karen Lakis said...

I can only imagine the wonderful scent of the lavender fields. It looks like a wonderful place to sit an enjoy a quiet moment. I’m glad you had the chance to enjoy it this year!

Lowcarb team member said...

Thanks for your lovely photographs and the additional information, very interesting to read, thank-you.

All the best Jan

Jeanie said...

These photos make me swoon and I can practically smell it! And the contrasting hot poker is beautiful, too. Thanks for sharing all the background info. That was largely new to me!