Have you ever thought about drying lavender to enjoy year-round? Last weekend we went lavender crazy and visited the Hop Shop at Castle Farm at Shoreham in north Kent. It was a flying visit – we’re already making plans for a return visit so we can book ourselves onto a farm tour. I was inspired to visit after seeing photos taken by photographer Jane Mucklow.
Lavender is a great addition to your garden – the bees love it – and it looks lovely in a vase as well. With it being in abundance from May-August you might like to think about drying lavender now, to enjoy its scent and restorative qualities throughout the winter months.
The team at Castle Farm harvest bunches of lavender by hand every year, to sell fresh during the season, and also to air dry for sale throughout the year.
If you’d like to dry your own lavender there are a few simple tips to bear in mind:
- pick your lavender just before it comes into bloom
- secure your bunch with an elastic band
- leave it to dry hanging upside down
- keep out of sunlight
Picking your lavender at the right time
You need to pick you lavender just before it flowers. Picking it earlier than you might be inclined to means your flower stems will hold together better. Pick it too late and your flower head will continue to open and mature as it dries and will fall apart/shatter over time.
Use an elastic band
As your lavender dries your stems will shrink. Tying them with an elastic band will hold your bunch firmly together and keep it secure. If you notice stems sliding out of your bunch, add another twist to your band to tighten it again.
I like to dry my lavender by hanging it upside down. This way the stems will dry straighter, making the dried bunch easier to use. You could try drying your lavender the right way up – dry in a vase. The problem with this though, is that it’ll flop sideways through lack of water and will dry into curved lengths, which are a bit impractical to use.
You need to dry you lavender out of direct sunlight, so it maintains its intense purple colour. I’d also advise making sure that air can circulate round it. If its bunched too tightly, you may find it goes mouldy, rather than drying.
Lavender at Castle Farm
I’d highly recommend a visit to Castle Farm. The shop is open all year and in the summer you can tour the lavender fields and oil distillery and enjoy a memorable aromatherapy massage in the heart of the lavender rows.
Until next time, happy flowers!
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