Get Dirty

Pruning Lavender

here’s how to do it – plus highlights from the Lavender Festival

By Kate Bryant July 11, 2010

This image shows the flowering lavender on the far right (still purple). To their left are several rows of lavender whose flowers have been harvested for processing – bundles are grasped with one hand, clipped with the other, then tossed into baskets to be distilled into oil. On the left, the worker is pruning the recently-harvested lavenders into compact "pillows," the perfect form to keep plants tidy.

My Sunday was spent out in Yamhill County at the Oregon Lavender Festival at Beulah Park in the town of Yamhill. It was a gorgeous day and my friends and I learned a ton about lavender production and crafts as well as the lavender plants themselves.

There was unexpectedly good music while we were there (vocalist Mary Kadderly with Dan Gildea, guitar) in addition to the many lavender craft booths. We checked out the lavender still set up by Oliver Springs Lavender, where oil is pressed from the flowers. Apparently, they custom-process lavender; call Butch Bochart at 503-538-5791 if you’re interested in their distilling services for your own lavender flowers.

We also stopped by wholesale grower Van Hevelingen Herb’s booth, where we found an astonishing array of lavender plants, both unusual and classic, as well as penstemon, hardy fuchsia, scented geranium, salvia, and culinary herbs. He’s the fellow I interviewed the other day about various types of lavender and how to grow them. His booth contained a variety of compact, dark purple lavenders, several of which came home with me.

A short ride from the park site was Willakenzie Lavender Farm. Willakenzie has production fields of lavender, as well as labeled rows of different lavender cultivars, ornamental gardens, and alpacas – each alpaca is sheared differently, as poodles sometimes are – some with fluffy "booties," some with puffs on top of their heads, etc. (I thought it would be cool if they sheared the alpacas like lavender and the lavender into alpaca-shapes. But they didn’t go for my idea.) The gift shop sells rather fine lavender and alpaca products, some locally made. I was fascinated to sniff the different essential lavender oils: there were several types of English lavender and lavandins – the differences were truly distinct and remarkable to my nose.

Out in the fields, a young woman was pruning the lavender into perfect little pillows, providing a great example for those who would like to know how to keep their lavenders shapely and tidy over time.

Click on the slide show (above) to see how it’s done.

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