As I sit in the garden in the cool shade of the house, a gentle and aromatic wind blows softly around me.
The air is scented with fragrant lavender from the nearby shrub which has been buzzing with bees for the last few weeks, causing the heavily bloom-laden plant to appear constantly waving in the breeze even when the air is still.
The tall, fragrant wands of deep lilac bob gently as I watch the bees bounce from one stem to another, some working their way around the plant in an orderly manner, in a clock-wise direction, others flitting up and down the plant in a more random fashion.
Lavender is one of my all time favourite plants, and today Bella and I had a wonderful treat with a trip to a Lavender nursery in the beautiful Kentish countryside not too far from us.
Downderry nursery is a small family run company even though it is home to the world's only Scientific National Plant Collection of Lavender, and is one of the premier lavender nurserys in the country.
Downderry nursery is a regular exhibitor at both RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where it won Gold this year once again, and RHS Hampton Court Palace Show.
It is situated down a quiet country lane in a beautiful, old walled garden which, as soon as you enter, is filled with the aromatic scent of lavender. Bella kept saying the air smelt like pizzas, and I guess maybe all the different lavender scents intermingled with the rosemarys.......but smelt like lavender to me! Just as you go in you can see the still at work, producing the pure lavender oil which they also sell (and which of course I had to buy!).
The lavender plants are planted in formal and semi-formal arranged beds so you can walk round the walled garden and see many of the different varieties they grow. The lavender fields are only open to view on certain weekends, so sadly, apart from a glimpse, we didn't get to see the beautiful, straight rows of purple lavender, but what we did see and smell were well worth the trip anyway.
this row of white lavenders above were a variety called Edelweiss, which sadly they had sold out of so I'll have to wait for next years plants.
There were lavenders in all shades of purples, mauves and lilacs, and soft pinks, creams and whites. There were tall lavenders with long wands of flowers, which were mainly the tall, traditional and highly scented plants - the lavender x intermedia (Lavandin)......these are very hardy.
There were the very hardy lavendula angustifolia's - small, tradtional and tough little lavenders, the True Lavenders, with a lovely sweet scent.
Some of my favourites were the frost hardy lavenders which include many of the beautiful lavenders with "ears" on top - some pale pink, all shades of lilac and purple, and even some sweet ones with white or pale green ears - in their brochure they have a couple that I'd love to get, Tiara and Van Gogh, both with little greenish yellow ears on top of deep purple flowers - stunning!
We thought there were more plants to see through the doorway in the wall - but when we got closer we realised it was a mirror! So clever!
We bought three of these "eared" varieties -
L. With Love, a sweet little cerise coloured lavender with pink ears;
L. Whero Iti - a reddish mauveish one with mauve ears;
and L. stoechas subsp. stoechas, the dark purplish French Lavender.
Whero Iti above (I think!)
I also bought a lovely purple L. angustifolia Hidcote
After wandering around and soaking up the scents and visual delights of the lavenders in the walled garden setting, we chose our plants and treated ourselves to a lavender ice-cream - well, it was very hot and we just had to try it! It was perfect, lightly scented but not overpowering, and very refreshing - not at all sickly, which is what I had half expected.
a bee on one of the new lavenders......they don't care its still in a pot!
Back home, I took a few photos of the lavenders in the garden - mostly angustifolias I think - the large well-established plant on the patio (see photos at beginning of post); a smaller one planted last Spring by the pond (below); and a couple planted near the small gravel terrace of the "Mediterranean" garden (ha! I wish!) which has a yucca and which, one day, I'm hoping to have full of fragrant herbs and flowers that remind me of the many holidays I've enjoyed in France, Greece, Italy over the years.
Also blooming prettily at the moment is this pale pink hollyhock - the bees love this almost as much as the lavender!
And this fuschia (can't remember which one) is full of blooms this year - last year it was very late flowering, well into August, and not many blooms
I searched for and found an old favourite book on Lavender to browse though when we got home.....it's a lovely book with the history of lavender, lovely things to make for the home with lavender, culinary uses with recipes, aromatherapy uses, household uses and, of course, lots of wonderful photos.
So back to the usual menu of the day - you've had the flowers, so here's the sewing!
This cushion I finished last week, but still have to put in my shop. Made from a mix of recycled curtain lining fabric and fresh fabrics, with old work shirt buttons, it is hand quilted. The back is a cheerful summery deck chair stripe in ice cream colours!
And I've just started piecing these blue and red vintage feedsack and 30s/40s cottons, which I'll combine with a crisp, white vintage linen - more next week on this I hope.
And still on the lavender blue theme, I took this posy of blue hydrangeas for my Mum when we visited for the day yesterday.
Hope you're all enjoying the summer temperatures wherever you are - many thanks as always for taking the time to visit me and to leave a comment, I love to read them all and am trying to keep up with your blogs even if I don't always comment.