Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I've been too busy cutting lavender...

to post about it! All the varieties are blooming right now. I'm having trouble keeping up and some of the plants that are throwing up reedy wands, I'm just mowing them down. I have over 50 bunches drying now. Grossos and Marge Clarks (the longest so far as they are intermedia lavenders) should be ready to cut this weekend. Lots of pictures and descriptions below:
So the picture above of the Grossos, and the basket is placed there for a sense of scale. The Grossos are less like a ball like the English Lavender, with the bulk of the plant staying low, and the wands/stems, growing tall and away from the plant. Grosso is the variety that a lot of the lavender fragrance comes from when you buy stuff. It has a higher camphor content and a strong, strong scent.
I'm excited to see what the Marge Clarks do this year. They were so scraggly when I planted them last year, I really wasn't impressed but they do have a beautiful form, we should know more about how they look this weekend.
Above is an example of what a plant looks like after I've mowed it down, it is about 6 inches off the ground now. I should really cut it down to four inches, but I am still a timid pruner. This is one of the munsteads that was a little puny so I just trimmed it up to put the time on some of the larger plants.
I took the picture above on Memorial Day, you can see some of the purple, I hope it will look even stronger next year.
Here is a view of the Cynthia Johnsons from the top. I think they may be my favorite after the Tucker's Early Purple. They have a very interesting pattern to them. Below, is a bunch ready to hang.
The Lavenders in pots below are mostly the ones I found at the Jesse Israel and Sons nursery in Asheville. The silvery blue ones that are shorter are Lodden Blues and the willowy tall ones that are blooming are Ellegance Purple (for some reason this year, the Ellagances are very popular and you can find Ellagance Sky at Home Depot and Lowes. Sky is a lighter purple.) The richer green one in the back is a Lavance that my friend M bought at a plant sale in Columbus and the little guys in the black pots are Vincenza Blues. I am hoping we will get some hard rain in mid June so I can plant them on my weekend off.
And I'll leave this post with one last picture, Molly supervising the drying in the family room.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The First Lavender of the Year is Here!

And it's not the Tucker's Early Purple, although they are going great. It's the mystery variety, that I bought labeled Provence, but they ARE NOT Provence.


Chickens in the Lavender

If you've been following (and you should be you know.) Then you have learned that chickens like to roll in dirt and dust because it clogs the lungs of many parasites. Well, the other day I was finishing up weeding the lavender and the chickens were out ranging and they discovered the gravel around the plants. I had to use my foot to sweep the gravel back into place, but at least they didn't tear up the landscape fabric.

Pruning, Weeding, Burning and Budding

Lots going on in the lavender rows. I've finished pruning the winter die back, essentially any part of the plant that has greened up at this point: Here is the Croxton's before pruning:
Most of the winter die back was in the plants planted last year. I did end up ripping that Hidcote giant out too. Here is a Marge Clark before pruning:
The last Sunday in April, Dad came over and he and Andrew burned all the weeds and grass between the plants. Andrew used plywood to block the heat from the lavender and Dad used a propane tank (like for a grill) strapped to a dolly and he had an attachment that just wilted the weeds. I don't have a picture of this because while they were doing it I was in town getting stuff for the chickens and when I came back I helped them. There are few things as demoralizing to me this time of year, as seeing the grass out of control around the lavender. It looks sloppy and it holds moisture. This spring, when I add varieties, I will be planting them between the existing rows and then graveling them. You will see this process at the end of May. But this is what it looked like at the end of the day.
And yes, that's a cement deer in the background, it's a story for another blog entry. Here's another shot, notice the fence board in the background that it broken in the middle. That is the last remnant the storm we had last May that led to some damage on the homestead.