Think “lavender” and our minds drift to the renowned Provence (pro-VAUNCE) region of France’s southern Rhône River valley. How fortunate West Texans are to have a local source of this lovely, fragrant herb just a short driving distance away.
Our local source is The Lavender Farm of Shallowwater that is owned and operated by the Hill family since 2019. More than 15,000 fragrant lavender bundles are harvested from each season of the 3,500 plants under cultivation that are captured in the accompanying photo taken by Chelsi Simmons.
The name lavender is derived from the Latin lavare, “to wash.” Mediterranean civilizations have a long history using lavender. Centuries ago, ancient Egyptians used lavender for mummification and as a perfume. The Romans dried lavender stems, saving them for use as air fresheners as they traveled; they used the essential oil for culinary purposes and oil was added to soap for bathing. Ancient Greeks used lavender for insomnia and back aches (tumalolavender.com). Today lavender is a product in lotions, sachets, soaps, spritzes, and in teas and honey; the essential oil is popular in aromatherapy.
Lavender can sometimes be challenging to grow but it flourishes when grown in an environment like that of its indigenous, rocky Mediterranean region. Lavender requires full sun and soil with excellent drainage, the rockier the better, according to Ray Hill of The Lavender Farm. Lavender is a hardy plant, having survived last year’s frigid winter followed by extreme drought, demonstrating that it is essential to grow varieties adapted to our growing region.
Four varieties of lavender are cultivated at The Lavender Farm, each derived from the hybrid Lavandula x intermedia and each with a specific use for products. The variety ‘Grosso’ is grown for its superior essential oil products; ‘Provence’ for the exquisite floral spikes harvested for fresh and dried bundles; ‘Royal Velvet’ flavors the farm’s homemade lavender lemonade and ‘Melissa’, with its subtle, refined cooking quality makes it especially suited for their to-die-for lemon lavender shortbread cookies.
For gardeners that pamper their plants, a word of caution: overwatering is the main contributor of lavender death. Plants are most easily established from vegetative propagation rather than from seed but once established lavender tolerates neglect.
The Lavender Farm’s 2022 grand opening is Saturday June 25 from 10 am to 2 pm visitors can meet and mingle with the Hill family, enjoy ice cream treats, wine, homemade lavender lemonade, and lunch on catfish or fried chicken from River Smith’s.
For gardeners who can’t make it to the grand opening, The Lavender Farm has evening hours June into July and they can be found every Saturday morning at the Wolfforth Farmer’s Market. The Lavender Farm is located at 4801 N. CR 1500, Shallowwater. Visiting information and products can be viewed at thelavenderfarmtexas.com.
Ellen Peffley taught horticulture at the college level for 28 years, 25 of those at Texas Tech, during which time she developed two onion varieties. She is now the sole proprietor of From the Garden, a market garden farmette. You can email her at email@example.com