Once again, we’ve reached the time of year when the fields of Sonoma County are painted purple and the fragrance of lavender soothes our every breath.
A flower with many purposes, lavender has been used by the Egyptians in their mummification process, the Romans in their bathhouses, and by medieval monks in tonics and laundries. This incredibly diverse and gorgeous plant grows in abundance across several Sonoma County lavender farms, and is harvested profit crop. One of these lavender farms belongs to our clients at Sunrise Ridge Gardens.
Spring and summer at Sunrise Ridge is showcase time for the Provence Lavender, which grows in abundance on the property’s hillside and along the borders of the garden’s many citrus trees. By late April the flower stocks appear, blooming in full by the middle of May. Their fragrance is unmistakable, carried as it is along the warm Northern California breezes.
This beautiful plant offers many rewards. For one, it is known to be easy to grow, in part because of its impervious resistance to the threat from deer and snails. Meanwhile, it is beloved by bees and butterflies, which pollinate it and aid in its spread. For centuries, lavender has been known for its calming properties, and these benefits can be realized by simply picking a flower wand and placing it in a room. Dried lavender is used in spas and spa products the world over, and has been used in pillows as a natural sleep aid, insect repellent and anti-bacterial/microbial barrier.
Tricia Drevets, a Natural Health reporter for OffTheGridNews has put together a diverse list of uses for lavender, in essential oil form:
- Breathe Fresh. Create a DIY Air freshener by filling a jar about half full of baking soda and about a dozen drops of lavender essence oil. Poke several holes in the jar’s top and place the covered jar in any room needs a little freshening.
- Find your Zen. When you are feeling a little stressed out, try placing a drop or two of lavender oil on your wrist or temple for a quick calming effect on your entire body. Some researchers say the scent of lavender can lower your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure.
- Flake Free. Sometimes used as a dandruff remedy, lavender oil can help dry, flaking scalp conditions. Mix 10 drops of lavender oil in two tablespoons of almond oil. Microwave the solution for about 10 seconds. Apply the warm solution to your scalp after you have wet your hair and toweled it dry. Leave the solution on under a shower cap for an hour before shampooing it out. Repeat as necessary.
- Shoo Mosquitos. Lavender can be a natural and affective deterrent to mosquitoes. Add 10 to 15 drops of lavender oil to five ounces of distilled water. Pour solution in a spray bottle and mist your arms, legs and feet for a sweet scented bug repellent without the chemicals!
- Headache relief. Put several drops of lavender oil onto a washcloth that has been soaked with hot water. Wring out excess moisture. Apply the hot compress to your forehead and reduce the pain of headaches or a sinus infection.
- Bites and stings. Add one or two drops of lavender oil directly to an insect bite or sting for quick relief of pain and itching.
- Fresh Laundry. Forgo the chemicals in commercial laundry scents and add several drops of lavender oil to your washing machine’s final rinse cycle or a woolen dryer ball in the dryer to give your clothes a light, clean-smelling scent.
- Carpet Refresher. Freshen up your carpets and rugs by adding about five drops of lavender oil to a cup of baking soda and sprinkling the mixture over the surface. Let it sit for about an hour before vacuuming thoroughly.
- Breathe Easy. Lavender oil can help relieve some congestion conditions by assisting the body naturally to eliminate phlegm. Add a few drops of lavender oil to a vaporizer or inhaler or apply a few drops of oil to the skin of the neck, chest or back when you have a cough or cold.
- Supple Skin. Lavender helps relieve dryness, soothe itching and reduce the appearance of stretch marks or scarring. Add five drops of lavender oil to one tablespoon of carrier oil such as almond oil. This mixture is also effective in moisturizing and softening and soothing dry skin on your feet.
- Ouch, hot! For a painful sunburn relief, add 10 to 15 drops of lavender oil to five ounces of distilled water. Pour solution in a spray bottle and gently mist skin with the soothing spray. Reapply as needed to help relieve pain and to promote healing.
Lavender harvest occurs is June/July when the spikes have achieved full color and the last flowers are open. The lavender typically will bloom again in late summer or early fall, to be ready for a second harvest in September/October. When harvesting this diverse plant you must remember to prune and shear the wands just slightly down into the plant. This will avoid the plants becoming woody over time.
We welcome you to come to Sunrise Ridge Gardens and witness these extraordinary herbs in person, as 497 plants are harvested and hung in the yurt for drying, to later be sold and used in a multitude of products, culinary achievements and home adornments this summer.