Me:: 'Oh look, there's a lavender farm up in North Devon, we must go...sometime. Open 11 to 5.30... closed on Fridays... nice tea room... nursery...'
I am seriously into lavender this year and have borrowed every available book on the subject from Devon Libraries, as well as buying Sally Festing's excellent little book The Story of Lavender, more of which soon.
Our own humble lavender installations have flowered well, perfect dry conditions, lovely drifts of purple amongst everything else, and quite unwittingly we had planted them in the best drained spot in the garden; ignorance for which I am grateful since you all then advised on keeping their feet dry etc. Back in June I sowed a packet of Lavender 'Munstead' not expecting much to happen, apparently it's hard to germinate and it was like sowing fleas, the seeds are so small, so I wasn't hopeful. I showed you the fledgling tray a while back, and now I have pricked out my babies...all one hundred and twenty of them...
I think you are supposed to discard the weaker ones, but somehow I couldn't. I can see I am going to be hopelessly soft about caring for every seed that has taken the trouble to grow, no matter how sickly and in fact they had all put down wonderful roots which just needed untangling. Even at this infant stage the scent of lavender is already strong. You will just have to believe me when I tell you that I unravelled one batch up in the Potting Shed, one hot summer's evening whilst listening to the radio; Joshua Bell presenting a programme of his own music prior to his Prom appearance, and yes...he played it... Ladies in Lavender....just for me I'm sure.
You know those moments of supreme contentment in life that you remember for ever... well that was one, and I immediately came in and ordered a copy of the film which to my horror I realised I still haven't seen.
Anyway, a visit to see lavender grown properly and in quantity seemed like a plan.
So just a few days on from that massive dropped hint, off we trot to find the lavender farm.
Me :: 'Do you know where we are going??'
Bookhound :: 'Yes, I had a quick look, it's easy....'
Now you really have to want to go to the Cheristow Lavender Farm because it is a little off the beaten track up at Hartland Point, north of Bude, and I suggest you take a map with you rather than rely on the 'quick look, it's easy' method of navigation. As we drove along we spotted a sign that said 'Lavender Farm and Tea Rooms...Follow the tea cup', which we did...for a while, but of course the trees and hedges had grown over most of them, and when we ended up at the lighthouse car park (£5) and not a hint of swathes of purple, there was much reversing and retracing of tracks.
On the day of our visit it was scorchio everywhere except Hartland, buried under a sea haar of blanketing proportions and we caught barely a glimpse of the cold sea shrouded as it was by the warm air. Haar is the Scottish term, and sea fret the Yorkshire, so I am not sure what they are called down west, but Cornish for sea is 'môr' and fog is 'niwl', so môrniwl will do, even if we were marginally in Devon.
Well worth the effort when we eventually found it if only for the Lavender and Coconut cake..
More varieties than I ever knew existed and the scent on the air, and the waving sea of lavender, in every shade of...well lavender, more than made up for the day's lack of ocean views.
But after the lavender there was another unexpected treat in store, the gardens.
And before you ask, yes of course I bought a plant in order to bring something of Cheristow and this lovely visit back to our garden for posterity.
Lavendula angustifolia 'Little Lady', chosen for its unusually light-coloured flowers which will make a nice contrast to our existing, and until now much-neglected Lavendula angustifolia 'Haven't the First Clue What it is.'
Meanwhile how's your lavender dilly-dillying this year, and please do tell me all the things I can do with this modest crop of dried lavender I will have. The Tana Lawn is ready and waiting for the sachets, and I am busy with some home-made pot pourri, but any other ideas??