The year we bought our home, the children got me several lavender plants for my birthday, and then Mother’s Day.
The vast majority of the harvest from these aromatic and culinary lavenders goes to Birch Community Services, along with all of the other produce grown here.Â However, after cutting the plants back hard in early summer, they often set a second, smaller bloom in late August -early September.Â It is these that we keep for our family’s winter culinary and craft needs.
A few mornings this week, we got up early to bring in the aromatic lavenders, cutting them at the base of the flower stalks, down where the stems meet the foliage.Â We bundled them and set them on the front stairs to dry in the sunshine.Â (The florets are much easier to remove from the stems when thoroughly dry.)
Bea and Hal (with a little “help” from George) stripped the flowers from the stems.Â I gave them a big, deep wooden box in which to do this, so that none of the previous little blossoms would be lost.
Did you know that the flowers aren’t the only useful part of the lavender plant?Â After we removed the flowers, we bundled the stems together and tied them with bits of cotton string.Â They make great aromatic fire starters.Â Throw them into your fireplace with your newspaper and kindling, and you will have a sweet-smelling fire going in no time.
The blossoms are now sealed up in glass jars and tucked into the dark back corner of a cabinet, where they will keep for until we are ready to craft with them.Â It feels like such an extravagance to open up those jars in the middle of some dark and rainy winter afternoon, sift our fingers through the contents, and breathe in that clean smell of late-summer.
If you have any room in your garden for even one or two lavender plants, I encourage you to cultivate some.Â Â Give them a sheltered, well-drained place where they will be shielded from the harshest of winter winds and won’t get “soggy feet.”Â The bees and butterflies will thank you,Â in turn you will be rewarded with a decadent feast for your senses.