Lavendula Angustifolia’s are smaller than lavendins and bloom earlier in the summer. Their fragrance is highly prized because it is more delicate. The difference in scent of the two types of lavender is due to the amount of camphor in the buds. Luckily deer and rabbits don’t like camphor so our flowers are safe! Angustifolia’s are used for perfumes and beauty products as well as culinary purposes. We grow Folgate, Melissa (white/pale pink flowers), and Royal Velvet, however there are over 60 cultivars of Angustifolia available depending on your hardiness zone. Lavender does not like to be wet. It grows best in rocky, well drained, alkaline soil. Stonewell Farm has ‘calcareous’ soil as it sits on top of the Niagara Escarpment, which is mostly limestone, so it is the perfect soil for lavender!
Lavender is a member of the same family of aromatic plants as mint, sage, thyme and rosemary. Originally growing wild in France and Spain, it is now cultivated in many countries around the world. There is some confusion about the different types of lavenders and their many names. The best know lavender is a hybrid plant called a ‘lavendin’, also known as French lavender. It is a cross between Angustifolia lavender (referred to as English lavender), and Latifolia lavender also called Spike or Spanish lavender. Lavendins are sterile plants, however they are popular because they produce significantly more oil and a stronger fragrance. There are many varietals of lavendin. At Stonewell Farm we grow Gros Bleu and Phenomenal.
Steps to planting lavender
Planning rows and ordering plants – a detailed rendering of rows and spacing was drawn up and plants ordered in January.
Laying greenhouse cloth
Water and air permeable black woven cloth is laid down to prevent weeds from growing. Of course, the field had to be harrowed first and all the rocks hand picked out!
marking & creating holes
200 ft long strips needed to be carefully marked to accommodate the varying size of French and English lavender. After holes are marked a propane cane burner melts perfect 4” holes that will receive the baby plant.
Inviting all our friends for a planting party made the job of getting 2100 plants in the ground much easier!
Despite the ground cloth, we still battled with weeds competing with the lavender plants. A rainy summer meant we didn’t have to irrigate, but it also caused the weeds to thrive!
The first year of a lavender plant you have to discourage blooming which will detract from root establishment, so all blooms had to be removed.
The stems are bundled with elastics and hung in the barn upside down to dry for two weeks.
This summer 2018 we did our first distillation for lavender essential oil!
By end of August all the plants have to be pruned to prepare them for winter and a productive bloom next year.
covering for winter
At the end of October we cover the lavender field with a thin white gauzy fabric that will protect the plants from wind and ice and hopefully ensure a good survival rate. Bags of rocks are used to anchor the cloth.