Slow Living: Lavender Harvest
When we bought our home on Vashon Island we inherited a very nice yard filled with hibiscus bushes, roses, a small Japanese maple and lots of ground cover. The roses required more attention than I could keep up with, so they eventually died off (then we extended our deck over the space so it was just as well). The ground cover is mostly vinca and it's so hearty we don't need to pay attention to it. The same goes for the bushes and our Japanese Maple. I'm so grateful to the lady who owned the house before us for being such a thoughtful gardener.
But the best part of this yard is the lavender plants. There are at least 20 mature plants and their nectar brings all the bees to the yard as early as May even before the lavender has begun to bloom. The only maintenance required is at the end of the season, just before the temperature drops way down, my husband will chop them off at the knees to stimulate growth for the following year. And every year they come back strong with tall stalks of purple-blue buds.
I usually start harvesting at the end of June or the beginning of July. Early each morning with coffee in hand and my dog Whiskey by my side, I snip a fat bunch to bundle and hang dry. I read somewhere that you should harvest lavender when 1/3 of the buds have opened, not wait till they are all open, so that's my rule. This year I have been more ambitious and I've gotten 2 bundles each morning. I try to get as much harvested as I can before the buds start to brown, but I'll never be able to get all of it. The fragrance fills my sewing room with the calming scent of lavender all year long.
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