Updated: Aug 20, 2020
...a journey through the Colors of Provence!
After exploring the Yellows of Provence in our last email, this email will focus on the most famous Purple of the region: Lavender. This is the time when the lavender of Southern France comes into bloom! From June to July, visitors can take in breathtaking swaths of purple on Les Routes de la Lavande (the Lavender Routes of Provence). Today, we can appreciate from afar, the benefits of this plant while surrounding ourselves with its beauty. Join me in creating our own small pieces of purple paradise wherever we live!
We know that lavender played an important role for the ancient Greeks and Romans. From its Latin root, Lavare, meaning "to wash," lavender was used as an additive for household and medicinal purposes. During medieval times, lavender was used in powdered form to mask disagreeable scents and flavor. In addition, lavender is a natural repellent against mosquitos, flies, and fleas and was used in bedding and on the floors to keep pests away. Later, in the 1500's, tanners in the town of Grasse first started using distilled oil from lavender and other aromatics to scent their leather gloves, which sparked the beginning of the perfume industry. And interestingly, lavender was found to be quite effective in the fight against the Plague in the early 1700's.
FUN FACT: The current monks in the Cistercian Abbey of Senanque, near Gordes, France (pictured above) have been growing lavender and keeping bees for the past forty years. This is a favorite stop on the Route de la Lavande, which stretches for over 600 miles and connects over 2,000 farmers, growers, and producers of lavender products.
A few years after my husband started keeping bees, I started growing lavender, a wonderful pollinator favorite of bees because it produces both pollen and nectar! Nectar is the sweet liquid that worker bees eat, while pollen is the substance the bees combine with nectar to feed to the colony's brood.
As of this summer, we've planted over 300 plants and seven cultivars of lavender in our backyard, as well as several other varieties of pollinator-friendly vegetation that bloom at different times of the year so that our bees always have something yummy to eat. My heart always smiles with joy when our first lavender plants begin to bloom, typically in late June, both because of the beauty of the lavender and because late spring and early summer blooms mean the bees are out searching for food!
All summer long, it's wonderful to be outside in our small lavender field either picking weeds or just sitting watching our bees and the native bees that have discovered our little piece of purple paradise. Being surrounded by our lavender is one of my favorite places to be, along with being in Provence, of course! If you'd like to follow the progress of our lavender and bees, check out our website, www.sierrashadowsfarm.com.
May this collection of Lavender-inspired tablecloths and other products encourage you to do something you love while also creating something beautiful and life-giving in your own environment!
Vive la Lavande!