Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lavender dilemmas

This is the time of year when there is no money coming in but it is hemorrhaging out of my account. Dahlia tubers, cardboard boxes, and today an order to put in for dried lavender.

I only buy organic lavender - I feel that if I am committed to growing everything here using organic methods then I should be equally committed to buying organic despite the price differential.

I have contacted my supplier and I have 2 different lavenders to chose from.

Lavandula ssp - this is a grey purple, the buds are sharply pointed and the scent is herby, quite mentholy in many ways. It is grown in Spain and is strong. I have had a lavender bag with this in it for over 2 years and it is still as scented as ever.

The alternative is Lavandula angustifolia - more purple in colour with soft almost fluffy bulbs. The scent is very soft and sweet with no herby kick. It is a mixed crop grown in France and Bulgaria. It is approximately twice the price of the lavandula ssp.
But it isn't just a question of price - if I was chosing lavender to put in an open bowl I would chose the angustifolia without any hesitation. It would scent a room without any of that invasive lavenderiness you get with room sprays.
At the moment though I am buying lavender though to put into bags, hearts, doorstops - some of it will be mixed with wheat so that it can be warmed to disperse the scent. Will the augustifolia be too subtle?
Oh I just don't know what to do.


carolyn said...

I know you will make the right decision for your projects but I think I would buy the cheaper, smellier version for the wheat mix, not sure about the lavender only fillings, maybe they need to be more subtle.

weirdbunny said...

I think you need to grow a huge lavender hedge to surround you garden. I've got one around the cottage garden are of the garden, so wonderful to sit weeding amonst the fragrance.

Gigibird said...

I would go for the one that smells the best.

I didn't know gowers of lavender spayed it with pesticides - I thought it would be pretty robust -

Jane said...

Unfortunately anything grown in bulk seems to be very prone to pests and weeds. That is supposedly why I grow everything in small patches - to confuse the beasties. As aperennial the main problem I suspect will be weeds - I have certainly seen French lavender fields being sprayed against broad leafed weeds.

Lavender must be fairly robust though as there is not a ridiculous price premium for organic as there are for some things.

I do have some lavender here - a long patch hedging a border - but it isn't that happy to be honest - it doesn't like the rain or the heavy soil no matter how much grit I put in it. I also tend to sell it all fresh in posies so have very little to sell (the hedge is angustifolia!)

Heather said...

Its interesting that you discuss the lavender; given I am using lavender (seville) and (angustifolia) for my perfume presently. So I understand well the difference in the lavender type smell they produce.

Yes the angustifolia is better - looking and for that ubiquitous lavender - but the spanish if it last well will make for a more durable stuffing for the bags and it doesn't matter its grey overtone.

For the scented sachets it isn't just about the quality of the smell - longevity will be something that matters to customers and make them feel they got full value for money.

I understand oh too well the lull after christmas - it seems always to me that bills to be paid post xmas somehow leave me dry however I try to plan for it!!!


Jane said...

I think that I have almost decided - I am going to try mixing the two - the supplier will let me do a mixed order - using the smellier one for the wheat mix and also anything that is likely to end up perfuming drawers. I suspect that the moth detterent qualities of lavender refer to the mentholly smell so the angustifolia wouldn't work as well there.
For any small sachets made from fine material, and for anything destined to be near the face, I shall use the angusifolia.
I think that Heather is right that people want along life from their scenty sachets - that is why I tend to really fill mine with lavender as you can shuggle them about every six months or so and new fresh smelling lavender buds come to the surface.
Right - off to placethat order.

Nonnie said...

Sounds like you've already come to a decision but I'll add my opinion anyway. I think I would go for the smellier version. I think customers want to feel they're getting something that really smells of lavender and keeps it's scent as long as possible. I've just ordered from a company in the Cotswolds and they gave two choices, pale and dark lavender. They described the paler variety as being stronger scented so that's what I've gone for.

Jane said...

Well - I've answered by dilemma by making up somethings - I have been asked to make a calming wheat pack for headaches/cramps etc. It is quite big so that it excludes light and can also be used as a heat/cool pack for legs/backs etc. and is filled with lavender and wheat.
I used the smelliest lavender-and goodness it is too too much - so for anything to be used near to the nose it has to be more subtle. The smellier stuff can be for door hearts and wardrobe hangers.
I am typing with the pack on my head like a wimple and it is making me feel woosy.

gillian said...

Hi Jane, I'm glad you resolved your dilemma. I too love the smell of lavander but you can have too much of a good thing.
Picking up on an earlier point in your post - dahlia tubers - do you have a good and reliable source? Last year I bought some Arabian Night on e-bay. They arrived, looked good, grew well, took lovely cuttings etc.. but .... when they flowered thay were bright yellow!!! I guess it's my fault buying from an unknown source but you live and learn.
Many thanks. Gillian.