Sometimes there is confusion on the coloration of lavenders. Especially with floral designs clients many are expecting deeper colors on the Intermediate (Grosso/Phenomenal). The intermediates really have a wide range of coloration. The long-stemmed Intermediate lavenders are much sturdier and have larger buds so they hold up better to mixed floral design arrangements, but I do occasionally mix in some English lavender for color in season. I will break down the color differences between Intermediate and English below.
Our farm is moving towards growing probably about 75% English lavender after this season. We were about half and half between English and Intermediate lavender previously. However, our intermediates were hard hit by the winter and not as hardy. I will keep what we have that survived and have babied them back to health, but I will be starting to grow a longer stemmed variety of English lavender soon and we will move to incorporate it more into designs. All our English lavender - Hidcote and Melissa survived quite well despite the harsh winter and cold, wet spring.
Here is the breakdown of color on the two types of lavender I use in my designs:
Intermediate Lavender - Are long-stemmed- (Grosso and Phenomenal) vary in color from purplish blue to soft faded blue to gray-blue. Color is highly dependent upon what is in stock and varies. We do grow our own Grosso and Phenomenal lavender, which tends to be a deeper color than many I have received as supplemental from other farms. I will use our own lavender whenever possible and when in season. However, when our supplies are exhausted we do supplement with lavender from other farms in order to offer floral designs year round. We are a small farm and we cannot possibly grow enough to supply the demands for lavender bouquets and floral designs year round.
While I cannot control the color factor on lavender I receive from other sources, I will use the best blooms and color possible and tend to know which suppliers have the best color/sizes. I am very particular about who I receive supplemental bunches from. It needs to meet a certain standard. Since I work with it daily in designs, I know how sturdy I need it be and the size I prefer. I request pictures before I purchase to see if it will meet my needs. Right before the new harvest can get a little towards slim pickings as many supplies are starting to run out or blooms are more faded . Please be patient while we get our harvest in (usually July for us here in Michigan) and also for our supplemental suppliers to get their harvests ready as well.
Intermediate lavenders are used in oil production for essential oil. As we are a flower farm that grows for cut flowers and floral design, we do not distill oils at this time.
We also use English lavender. English lavender is generally smaller in size and length and has a more delicate look. We also grow our own English lavender and will have it for sale in season but I am usually out of our stock very quickly. English lavender is harvested usually in late June, but I will also get a second harvest in August or even September although not as big. I mostly sell it in small petite bundles and sometimes in larger wedding bouquets. To me it is a more premium lavender. We personally grow a mix of Hidcote - small deep purple flowers - and Melissa, slightly large flowers and lighter true lavender color. I will mix the two together, which makes a unique two-toned bouquet. When I have to supplement lavender from other farms It is usually Munstead or Hidcote, which is the true purple. I do not tend to keep English in year round as supplemental. However, at times I will get it by special request if I am out of my own.
We will start to grow a longer-stemmed version of English Lavender in 2019 and our farm is moving more and more towards English lavender production as it is hardiest for our growing zone and winters. Look for it to start to be available more on our shop and in our designs as we convert more to English lavender. My personal preference is the English lavender so I am excited about moving towards growing more of it.
A good example of different lavenders is our mixed bouquet of English and Grosso bouquet - See picture at top of blog.
Grosso and Phenomenal Intermediate Lavender Pictured below. First picture is fresh intermediate from our farm before drying. Middle and third pics are bundles of dried Grosso. Notice the light faded color. This completely normal for dried Grosso or Phenomenal. Our home grown tends to be a bit darker than this although buds are a bit smaller, which is more due to the size of the plants not being fully mature. Last row: Our Dried Grosso - somewhat deeper color. Second pic: Fresh Grosso Drying from our fields. Last pic: Mixed Grosso and English lavender.
Below is the English lavender. First picture is fresh English lavender, before drying, from our fields. Second picture are petite bundles of English lavender from our fields. Last pictures - larger bundle of Munstead lavender. Notice the English lavender has a deeper colors although there are some variations. Second row of pictures are our bundles of Mixed Hidcote and Melissa - Notice the deeper color of Hidcote and lighter lavender of Melissa. Not all farms mix lavenders - most do not. However, I just really like the look of these two mixed so since they bloom at the same time I usually mix them together in finished bouquets.
Just an FYI I am closing the shop to new orders next week. So get your orders in before that time! While I don't really get a "real" vacation per say due to have multiple wedding orders I need to work on during my vacation, I am going to close to new orders so I can concentrate on getting those few weddings out that are due before I reopen. So rest assured those people who have orders due out next week will get them as planned. That's being in business/self-employed! True time off in busy season is rare. Summer is busy season for weddings and also field work and harvesting. However, my hubs is off work next week so we should be able steal away some time here and there. He deserves a vacation with all the constant travel he has been logging in doing training in other states for his job. I am planning to work through the weekend to get most orders out so we can have some free time together.
My eldest son has been helping me tremendously in the field lately due to being tied up doing orders myself and with my husband traveling. Dear son has been my right-hand man when it comes to field work and planting and weeding etc. So wanted to thank him for all the help he has been to me.
It has been such a rough season for lavender growers and for us! I will admit I have shed some real tears over the loss of plants and how the field looks this year. I have had my son pull more plants that weren't completely dead but decided they had not recovered enough to make the winter. We are working on replacing about 1/4 of our field. It looks a mess right now so hence no pictures.
My son is working on redoing the field and husband and I will be helping him soon. We have a huge weed problem this year due to all the rain despite weed barrier and rock. We just cannot keep up! So, in desperation we are pulling up the river rock we put down last year and moving it off the field to another location. What a job! With only son working on it right now it will take awhile, but we hope to have it cleared by fall. We are then going to re-weed barrier the field with a good strong commerical weed barrier. No rock. When I put that rock down I certainly never envisioned pulling it back up but I also never envisioned all the rains and the uncontrollable weeds! Yikes. So lots of work ahead of us to redo the field.
All of our English lavender survived save one or two plants. New plants are coming in August. We are making a switch to mostly English lavender - Royal Velvet - as I stated was a possibility in another blog. It really is just more hardy in our growing zone and recovered the best after our long cold winter and wet spring. Most of the plants we lost were Grosso and ton of Phenomenal. I will keep the ones that survived, but not replacing that particular cultivar.
It's been hard not to be disheartened this year. I know other growers are in the same boat as us and some worse. One local growers had 80% loss of their fields. Another grower in Illinois lost her entire field and because of her advancing age decided not to replant and chose to go out of business and start over into a new life adventure. I am part of USLGA (United States Lavender Growers Association) and I've heard so many in the Midwestern lavender farmers facing massive losses and replanting. It's really hard on the small growers when we don't have thousands of plants to rely on and many lack the ability to repurchase and start over. We were lucky to have not lost more plants so we are working on trying to fix fields where we made some mistakes and replant.
In good news, we did still get a pretty decent harvest from the plants that did survive. Our wildflower fields are taking off. I replanted the middle field that had been all zinnas last year with a mix of perennial and annual wildflowers and it's growing great with all this rain. Our yarrow is huge. I also just planted some milkweed and butterfly weed. Our raised bed herb garden and vegetable gardens are also doing very well! So always a silver lining.
Shop closes Monday to new orders (July 29th) and will reopen on August 7th. Here are some pictures of some of the things I have been working on this week.
Happy 4th of July! A day early that is! We are closing down the shop tomorrow and will reopen on July 8th for some much needed rest and relaxation. We have been SO busy the month of June! After the crazy wet and cold spring , we've had massive clean up in the lavender fields (and major weeding, which is still ongoing). I am happy to report we've had a GREAT harvest of our English lavender!. Such a beautiful bounty! Most of our English lavender survived the polar vortex this winter coupled with the massive rains of spring. I believe we only lost 1-2 plants. Sadly, I cannot say the same on the intermediate lavender. We lost about 40-50 plants so far (Grosso and Pheonmenal) which I use in our floral designs. Intermediates don't tend to have intense purple color of the English, but because they are very sturdy and long they work very well in our larger designs. We may end up pulling more depending on they do now that we are finally getting some warm and dry weather.
We have replacement plants coming this month. It's a set back, but such is the life of a farmer! We can't beat Mother Nature that's for sure. It has been a disappointing season so far, but we are moving ahead! We are starting to go with more English lavender in the fields than ever before. It's just more hardy for our 6A growing climate and able to handle our winters. I have placed a later order for plants that will be coming soon. We will start incorporating our English lavender more and more into floral designs in the future.
We have completed our Raised Bed Gardens! Woo-hoo! My husband did such a great job building them. They are 8'x4'. So far there are three of them. He is working on making the fourth. We have planted some tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, squash, cucumbers, eggplant, and cauliflower. We also have a bed devoted to herbs. We have basil, sage, lemon verbena, dill to name a few. Due to weather we just completed planting last weekend so it's a late start.
We also finally got the tractor into the field and plowed another new field last weekend. Told you we have been busy! This will be used to extended our lavender fields when new plants arrive and also be used to place all the milkweed, butterfly weed, and other plants to support our ever growing Monarch Waystation/Wildflower fields.
RETAIL NEWS: The Wyandotte Street Fair starts next week. July 10th-13th . This is a big annual fair filled with artisans. "Over 200,000 visitors, 200 fine artists, 25 restaurants, and a multitude of local merchants." For more info check out this page
We are a vendor at the Vintage Market Home at 110 Sycamore Street. We have supplied them with lots of new products. They have both our English and Grosso Lavender in stock! This is from our 2019 harvest! We have new bath bombs (lavender and lace) and also resupplied them with our bath and body products, candles, gift baskets and more. Make sure you stop in at the street fair and at Vintage Market Home (right next to Stroh's Ice Cream).
Honeycomb Creative at 415 N. Monroe Street in Monroe Michigan also received some lavender bundles from us! Again, these are super fresh and just harvest and dried a couple of weeks ago! Smells amazing.
The Etsy shop is hopping with orders - many for summer and fall weddings/floral design. However, our birdseed favors, sachets, gift baskets, and botanical candles are also selling very well now too! Right now we are running about a MINIMUM 4-week time frame to complete wedding party/floral design orders and then ship out. Please make sure you allow enough time! Other products go out according to shipping time on the listings - usually between 1-3 days or 3-5 days depending on product.
Everyone have a safe and happy holiday. We will answer any emails when return on July 8th. Enjoy the slideshow - Pictures of our English lavender harvest, bundles wrapped for retail sales, raised bed gardens, and new tilled field.