We are having a new tour, this time we are not in Belgium anymore but in Provence, France.
What comes to mind to everyone when talking about Provence? Lavender…
So, since there is no lavender in Sept, we went to the lavender museum. They taught the group the difference between lavender and lavandin because guess what? What you see everywhere, in your garden, in the fields, is lavandin, not lavender.
The main variety of Lavender cultivated in Provence is in fact not Lavender, but a sterile hybrid plant called Lavandin.
Lavandin is very rare in the wild and results from the cross-pollinization of True French Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Spike Lavender ( Lavandula latifolia ). This rarity is because both True Lavender and Spike Lavender grow in distinct territories with little overlap, between 500 and 600 metres where both plants can grow and the opportunity for Lavandin to occur.
Not only does the Lavandin produce 4 to 6 times the essential oil of True Lavender (though not of the same high quality required for perfumery or aromatherapy), it can also growth at lower altitude (easier to cultivate everywhere) . Therefore, most farmers decided to adopt this new plant as their crop of choice. They therefore decide to clone it and reproduce it by hand.
While lavandin is a hardy plant, it is also sterile and therefore must be reproduced with cuttings rather than seeds. These plants have larger leaves, longer stems, and larger flowers that are pointed at the tip. Because the flowers are beautiful, vibrantly colored, and long-lasting, they are often used in herbal crafts and potpourris.
Here are a few pictures of our group at the Lavender museum:
Our group in front of the old lavender distillation alambics (Sally, Sheila, Susan, Aimee, Brooke, Angellea, Katura and in front,Nancy and me. I am wearing a lavender shirt of course!!!).
Sheila and Anjellea were the biggest shoppers!!!!
Ok, this is not a woman from our group but a mannequin with the outfit that women were wearing in the 19th century when harvesting lavender by hand. Women would harvest 700kg of lavender a day!!!!!
That is it for now, more tomorrow: stay tuned!
If you want to be part of this adventure yourself, check the itinerary at www.frenchescapade.com