Gordon KnightThe History of Lavender

Lavender use has been documented for over 2500 years. The ancient Egyptians used lavender for mummification and perfume. Romans used lavender oils for cooking, bathing and scenting the air and the name is derived from the Latin verb lavare—which means, “to wash.” The Romans also used lavender oil in soaps and carried it with them throughout the Roman Empire. In Medieval and Renaissance France, women who took in washing for hire were known as “lavenders.” Clothes were washed in lavender and laid to dry on lavender bushes. Lavender was used to scent drawers, perfume the air and ward off infection and heal wounds. It was also recognized in Roman times for its antiseptic and healing qualities. The Ancient Greeks used lavender to fight insomnia and back aches.

Lavender is referred to in the Bible by the name “spikenard.” In John, Chapter 12, Mary is said to have anointed the feet of Jesus with the very costly “ointment of spikenard” and wiped His feet with her hair. Jesus stated that the ointment was not to be sold but was kept for the day of his burying.

Lavender was also used as a remedy for the Great Plague in London in the 17th century. In the 16th century glove makers in France, who were licensed to perfume their wares with lavender, escaped cholera…Queen Elizabeth of England required lavender conserve at the royal table and fresh lavender flowers throughout her residence. Queen Victoria took an interest in lavender in 19th century England and English lavender became popular. The Victorians used lavender in gardens and both queens used products from the famous lavender company, Yardley’s of London.

What was once the rage in Europe quickly caught on in the Americas. History has it that the Shakers were the first to grow lavender commercially. After arriving from England, they were successful in developing herb farms and produced their own products and medicines and sold them to far-away markets.

Today, lavender is cultivated commercially in France, England, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada, to name a few. The South of France, in Provence, lavender blooms in late June and fills the countryside markets with the wonderful fragrance. Flower festivals and craft fairs abound with the sweet fragrance of lavender.

Lavender is truly a magical plant, full of sweet fragrance and therapeutic in nature. It is very easy to grow, basically requiring full sun and good drainage. Lavender is a very hardy plant and will even tolerate neglect. The majority are very adaptable and prefer to grow in rocky soil with a high pH and preferably in drought-like conditions after getting established. They do not like “wet feet.” Best results will be achieved by planting seedlings as opposed to seed. Choose from a multitude of varieties, but keep in mind your growing conditions, soil and climate.

Lavender oil is used primarily in perfumes and soaps. But its uses vary from household cleaning products to deodorizers, candles and food products. It is known for its antiseptic and antibiotic properties that can kill bacteria, alleviate the effects of bee stings and migraines, heal burns and ward off moths in clothing closets. The fragrance of lavender is also used for calming horses, promoting deeper and longer sleep and balancing emotions. Aromatherapy owes its existence to lavender. Essential oils are used to bring healing and balance to the body.

Lavender at Tumalo Lavender is used fresh and dry and as an essential oil. Harvest begins in September and is usually accomplished in three stages, depending on the end use. For best results, cut in the morning once the dew has evaporated and before heat sets in. Lavender stems are cut for fresh bouquets, hung to dry with a gentle breeze in our drying shed or crafted into bunches or lavender bottles.

Oils are distilled at our farm. Lavender oil is extracted from the buds, creating essential oil and hydrosol. All of our products are created at the farm by our family. Tumalo Lavender is dedicated to offering natural lavender products, a great line of culinary products and many varieties of plants propagated at the farm. We offer a secure site for shopping and prompt shipping.

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