I spent this morning harvesting the lavender in my backyard garden....in theory, it is supposed to bloom in late June, (there is a Lavender Festival coming up in Blanco, near Austin, next weekend, and there was one in Gainesville, 2 weeks ago) but you never know when all the buds will "pop" (depends on the weather for weeks surrounding this event) and you've got to be ready to cut them at their peak of blooming. They smell so wonderful; fresh yet not too sweet. I love to just make simple bouquets and hang them in the linen closet. Lavender seems to be one of the few things I can grow well - I am not a great gardener by any means - and it seems to do well in the climate of Texas, which is hot and dry. I started out with six little plants in 2006, each one in a 4" pot, and now they are great big bushes, 3 feet tall and have completely filled a 10 ft wide flower bed. I love it so much, and feel successful at it, so I think I will expand to another spot in the yard and grow more. Just need to find a sunny well drained spot. (FYI: I planted French lavender, which seems particularly suited to the climate here.)
Some people say all the bees have left north Texas and many other spots; folk are worried about the hive blight going around. My younger son plays violin, and we get his instrument serviced at a mom and pop string maker, called the Luthier Shop in Crossroads, Tx, and these guys also raise their own bees (for the beeswax, a crucial ingredient to string players.) They speak frequently about the dearth of bees lately. All I know is, plenty of bees were feeding in my lavender this morning. Perhaps the secret is to provide them with something they enjoy, and the ones that are left will come to you.

I first became a devotee of lavender when I went to Provence in 2006, and got to experience the blooming season there at the famous monastery of Senanque. A photo doesn't really capture how fabulous it is to experience that much lavender blooming.....walking out into the lavender rows, not only does it smell divine, but the plants seem to have an electromagnetic current running through them, you can feel the faint humming vibration of it all around you, within you. Turns out to be caused by millions of pairs of bees' wings, beating together, for the lavender is filled with bees everywhere, buzzing here and there, gathering nectar. They leave you alone; I have never been stung, as long as you respect them and let them do their job. It is truly something that has to be seen and experienced.
In France, they make all kinds of products out of lavender : soap, candles, sachets, perfume, honey, liquor, food. I have eaten vanilla ice cream drizzled with lavender liquor and it was divine. Perhaps that will be my next project.

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