Lavender lovers: beware!
English lavender… “lavande” and “lavandin” from Provence… Lavender from Sequim in Washington State … Lavender from Hawaii… Lavender is a love story for many of us.
I usually look forward to a trip to France in June when the lavender fields in the Provence area explode into a purple crown.
Unfortunately, I will not be going this year for obvious reasons. France is slowly, very slowly “de-confining” after the covid-19 crisis, and touring the South of France this summer would not be as much fun without having a “diabolo menthe” or a “bistro salad” at the terrasse of a café and walking the medieval streets on a romantic “light and sound” evening.
Did you know that lavender was used by the Romans as a fragrance in Roman baths?
Later, during the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon to find a lavender-filled sachet in the armoire of a Mediterranean house. It kept the sheets, linen and clothing fresh and good-smelling. Then it became a major additive to many oils, perfumes, ointments, and antiseptics. Let us not forget that Grasse in the South of France, on the French Riviera, is the world capital and cradle of perfumery. The top luxury brands have been developing their perfumes in Grasse. The international museum of perfumery is in Grasse.
The myriad of flowers, herbs, and fruits in Provence is unparalleled. It is a supercharge for all senses. It does not end… You keep exploring and you keep finding new fragrances. Along the coast, in the fields, prairies, on the slopes of the Alps… It is a marvelous, natural garden.
Lavender, of course, is quite prevalent there, and it is used abundantly in sachets, pillows, soaps and lotions. Within its own denomination, there are different grades of lavender, which means that the price can vary quite substantially between the volunteer, qualitative lavender, which grows naturally, and the quantitative lavender which is grown for many commercial applications.
Lavender is also an herb. You may have seen a recipe calling for “herbs of Provence” before – Depending on the brand, lavender may be one of the herbs in the mix that you keep in your spice drawer.
Have you ever had a lemonade made from freshly squeezed lemons and flavored with a sprig of fresh lavender? So good! You can easily make your own – providing that you use some food-grade lavender.
Also, lavender is very soothing. It brings “zen”, as the French like to say. The French even use it as a soporific solution to sleepless nights. How? As the magical “pillow mist”. You spray your pillow and your bedroom with this fresh burst of lavender, and it puts you to sleep!
Beware though… Never use it as an air freshener in a vehicle. It may put you... to sleep, even in the daytime.
There is something special about lavender. It is not only the symbol of friendship and tenderness in the floral language – By the way, sending a letter or a card to a friend with a twig of lavender in the old days was an invitation to long-term reciprocity and friendship.
The lavender festival in Digne-les-Bains has been celebrating the beautiful, timeless vintage flower. Next year, it will be the 100th anniversary of the event, and it promises to be better than ever with “everything lavender”– Growers, vendors, processors and alchemists will be joined by horse riders and dancers, and it will be a full-blown version of the very first festival with one and one only theme, the reason for it all: lavender. It will be “the place to be”. Let it be our destination for our next international travel next year, when we have left the corona virus behind, life is back to normalcy, and we can smell the roses … and the lavender!