Lavender Not Just A Color

By Zeynel Cebeci - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38167213
By Zeynel CebeciOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38167213

Lavender is not just a color but a glorious plant enjoyed by people for centuries. Serenely colorful, fragrant and easy to grow lavender was first domesticated ( I never think of plants as such but alright) by the people of Arabia. It slowly made its way around the world coming to the Americas in the 1600s. It is hard to know where to start or stop this discussion as lavender has entered our lives and those before us in so many ways.

By Bjoertvedt - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42224157
By BjoertvedtOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42224157

First the plant. Lavender is part of the mint family with close ties to rosemary, sage and thyme. The most common type of lavender is  Lavandula angustiflolis Vera or Old Fashion English Lavender. As a perennial this shrub like plant will bloom in the summer and  increases in size each year. Its small dark lavender flowers grow in whorls around its stem. Small  hairy pointed leaves collect the sun. It is within these hairs the essential oils ( oils made by nature not manufactured) are carried. Rabbits and deer do not care for lavender, however bees and butterflies love it.

140726_Farm_Tomita_Nakafurano_Hokkaido_Japan01s3.jpg
140726_Farm_Tomita_Nakafurano_Hokkaido_Japan01s3.jpg

Lavender grows best in well drained, gravely, sandy soil. (Wow do I have that.) It does not care for fertilizer or mulch as too much moisture will be held and cause root rot. Lavender also requires good air circulation and full sun.  As you can see, lavender fields are true works of art.

So what has caused this worldwide admiration for lavender? This plant can play many natural roles in your life. It may be used in gardens, landscapes, as a culinary herb, as an essential oil, and for medicinal purposes.

Historically lavender has been documented as long ago as 2,500 years. The Egyptians, Phoenicians and Arabians used its essential oil as perfume. Shrouds used in mummification were dipped in lavender water. The Romans gave lavender the root for its name, lavare – to wash as the lavender was used to scent the water in the Roman baths. Lavender was also used by the Romans as insect repellent and in smoking mixtures. The Romans may have been onto something thinking of lavender as an insect repellent. Much later in London during the Black Plague people would tie bunches of lavender to each wrist to ward off the disease. We now know the plague was spread by fleas which the lavender may have repelled. The Greeks felt lavender was a cure-all, curing everything from insomnia to insanity. A bit like ketchup. During the Renaissance lavender was scattered on stone floors as a disinfectant and deodorant. In the United States lavender water was used during WWI to bathe soldier’s wounds. It was the Shakers, a celibate religious group from England, who began to commercialize lavender after moving to the United States and Canada. Today a great many lavender products are produced world-wide but not by the Shakers. Being celibate ended the order in no time.

Today lavender’s essential oil is considered antiseptic, an astringent and an analgesic. Many perfumes, bath oils, salves and balms are lavender based. Loaded with nectar the bees spend a great deal of time making lavender honey which is delicious and at times used to coat uninfected wounds.

Gastronomically, lavender has a very sweet floral flavor with a hint of lemon. It is considered a condiment in salads and dressings. The flowers can be candied and used to decorate pastries, and cakes. I had a piece of  lavender cake at a wedding, delicious. Scones, marshmallows and chocolate are especially good with lavender.  When cooking with lavender it is said to go best with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage and savory. The French like to have their lambs graze in fields of lavender to make the meat fragrant and tender.

Aromatherapy makes good use of lavender which is said to help you relax and sleep.   Potpourri is often packed with lavender. I remember a time when mothers wanted to put bags of lavender in their son’s hockey skates. Not a bad idea but the boys would never stand for it.

Photo by Chris Rieser
Photo by Chris Rieser

Old Mission Peninsula has its own Harbor View Nursery and Lavender Farm run by Bret, Sonja, Hannah and Cody. As with many agricultural endeavors on the Peninsula the farm has been family owned and operated since 1993.  A little bit of everything can be found here. There are a variety of plants, lavender products, a Rieser favorite – mulch, and a lot of learning to be had.

Photo by Chris Rieser
Photo by Chris Rieser

Here are the uses for lavender and one cautionary warning listed on their website.


 
 
“Stress   adrenalfatiguesolution.com A few drops of E.O. in the tub, some of the methods listed for headaches, running your hand over a blooming plant – it comes in many forms. Maybe a sachet in your car or desk that you can squeeze and sniff when needed.
Sleep www.prevention.com   www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov Try our linen spray or sachet first and graduate if needed to stronger, more concentrated items, like an eye pillow or E.O.
Headaches lifeandhealth.org  Apply a drop of E.O. to your temples or forehead. You can also try squeezing dried lavender, as in a sachet, and breathing slowly and deeply, using a heated or cooled neck wrap or eye pillow, or getting a massage with a carrier oil mixed with lavender, such as our body oil. Sometimes burning a lavender candle can work, too. It comes in many forms, so you may have to experiment to find what works for you.
Immunity *
Digestion * Try loose leaf tea or lavender honey.
Blood circulation and hypertension *
Muscle aches and cramps* Try a lavender bath with E.O., a massage with lavender body oil, or a heated neck wrap.
Anti-inflammatory www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Skin conditions such as psoriasis www.livestrong.com  and eczema www.wholesomeone.com Try our body butter, body oil, or E.O.
Minor burns www.mayo   Try E.O. straight or mixed with a carrier, as in our body oil. (For open, or third degree burns, see a doctor!)
Blisters, Minor cuts and scrapes. Try E.O., our body butter, or body oil.
Acne killacne1.blogspot.com Try E.O., our lavend Try E.O., our lavender soap (liquid or bar).
Bug repellent homeguides.sfgate.com mosquitoes, moths (keep dried lavender – bouquets or sachets –  in your off season clothes or closets), wasps, fleas, house flies. For you and your pets, try our Bug Off!
Dry skin *  Our body butter is the best! Many also like our body oil right after the bath/shower.
Lice prevention headlicecenter.com  Mix a few drops of E.O. with coconut oil, apply to dry hair, wrap in a towel or shower cap and wash out after a few hours. Our daughter is in 8th grade and always has had dark, thick hair at least to the middle of her back – never had lice!!
Disinfectant info.achs.edu
Cleaning agent (Laundry)  www.mindfulyogaheal Try our dryer bags and all-natural lavender laundry detergent! Your clothes will smell like the fresh outdoors!
 
Other general related links: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov    *articles.mercola.com  (This one is great – it discusses many uses for lavender, including as a topical fungicide.)
 
Warning: there has been some evidence that shows lavender can increase estrogen in some pre-pubescent boys when used daily and directly on the skin, so while young boys can smell lavender, can be around it in the garden, and can even eat it, daily use should be monitored (occasional use, as for bug bites, burns, etc should be fine). Also, many say that pregnant or nursing women should avoid most essential oils. If you develop a headache or rash after using lavender, you may have a sensitivity to it (but again, be sure your sensitivity is not to fragrance oils). ”  harborviewlavender.com

 

Photo by Chris Rieser
Photo by Chris Rieser

I love my three lavender plants. I dry the flowers and mix them with the dried wildflower pedals I collect from my yard. I put this collection in a large glass bowl on my coffee table for the winter. It is a reminder that the snow and cold really isn’t most of the year. I also have bouquets here and there throughout the house. They just make me smile.

If you are visiting the Peninsula to enjoy the local wine tasting or to visit the Old Mission Lighthouse, do stop by Harbor View Nursery and Lavender Farm or order through their website. (As a disclaimer, I am not part of this operation, I just love the farm and hope you enjoy it too!)

Do check out their website at: http://www.harborviewlavender.com/About-Us.htm

 

 

Grab some lavender and make it part of your life in as many ways as you can.

 

 

Resources:

www.auracacia.com/auracacia/aclearn/features/lavender4.html

http://www.harborviewlavender.com/About-Us.htm

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4 thoughts on “Lavender Not Just A Color

  1. Carrol Kocurek August 12, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Did you get some of your thoughts from here (similar perspective): https://fullarticle.org/FCidea

    • krieser19@att.net September 8, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      Interesting….No and I could not find the site.

  2. Keiko Scullen August 12, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Did you get some of your thoughts from here (similar perspective): https://fullarticle.org/FEidea

    • krieser19@att.net September 8, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      Interesting….No and I could not find the sight.

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