entertainingFood & Drinkstudio choowe like it wild

we like it wild: lavender

by StudioChoo

After nearly a year of writing We Like it Wild, we kind of can’t believe we haven’t done a post on lavender yet. Apparently, we just hadn’t met the right bush. This week we had a serious date with lavender and now we’re totally smitten. With the lovely Annabelle of Magpie & Rye as our guide (and her rottweiler sidekick, Sophie), we got up close and personal with Lavandula.

Lavender is part of that fabulously fragrant mint family, Lamiaceae, and cousins with basil, rosemary, sage, and just about every other strong smelling herb. The two most common types of lavender are English lavender and French lavender. We had access to an untouched field of English lavender, the more fragrant of the two types and the one more commonly used in perfumes, soaps, and cooking. The slightly arid hills of Napa are the perfect condition for this drought-tolerant plant, but lavender will grow well in pots, too, as long as they get full sun, good drainage, and don’t get over-watered.

Our harvesting field trip yielded armloads of lavender. If you’re cutting lavender yourself it’s best to cut when the little flowers are at the height of their blooming cycle, before they start to lose their petals. But a fully blooming field of lavender is bound to attract more than just a few girls with clippers; an adjacent beehive (and a bottle of rosé) meant our cutting party had to maneuver a little more deftly through the field. The smell in the field as we brushed by the plants was incredible, but we were also amazed by how noisy it was! The bees really created quite a loud hum while they were working.

CLICK HERE for the rest of the most and more beautiful lavender photos after the jump!

Here’s five fun things to do with your lavender!

Bunch Garland

Bundle your bounty, tie them with twine, and hang them on a line to dry. Lavender will dry fairly quickly and start releasing their sweet scents right away, but if you want to keep it from drying too quickly, a cluster in a vase with water will keep the flowers in tact longer and still fill your home with goodness. We recommend using your freshly cut stems right away if you plan on using them for projects while they are still pliable. Wind some up with floral wire or twine; it’s amazing how much fragrance one little lavender wreath gives off.

Printed Sachet
Dried lavender buds shake off very easily and are great for making simple sachets to put in drawers or hang on doorknobs. Create your own by doing a simple block print on muslin and sewing up all the sides. If your sachet seems to be losing it’s fragrance, giving it a squeeze will help release some more of the oils. (sachets by Janis– available at Prairie Collective)

Fragrant Bouquet and Boutonniere
If you’re on your way to a party, stop in your garden and bring your host a simple lavender bouquet. You don’t need to add any frills, just let the lavender speak for itself. And grab yourself or your honey a few sprigs to make a boutonniere while your at it, so you can keep the fresh scent near you all day.

Infused Salt or Sugar
Mix some dried lavender buds into your table salt or sugar bowl to enjoy a subtle infusion of the minty scent as a salt rub on your lamb or sweetness in your afternoon tea.

Fresh Summer Arrangement
Finally, a little bit of lavender can go a long way in an already beautiful summer arrangement. Dahlias and poppies may be gorgeous this time of year, but they score low in the scent department. Use lavender to supplement arrangements that could use a little kick.

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  • this lavender post couldn’t make me happier! i have been enamored with the lovely lavender forever and we are thrilled to be using it for our little beach wedding next year. dotting vintage blue mason jars, the bouquets, favors and even our wedding cupcakes, this post has given me even more inspiration to draw from. thanks design*sponge girls!
    sylvie of silver lining

  • The pictures are lovely! I know what I’m doing next time I see a field of lavender! Well… next time I see one will be the first time I see one, but I’ll remember these incredible ideas!

  • My favorite post of the summer. I LOVE lavender. Lavender honey is divine. On crappy days I threaten to run away and just grow lavender. Thank you for this get-a-way in my mind.

  • This post is really lovely. As a public service I should mention that apparently lavender functions as an estrogen mimic in the body, so its use should be limited around children as well as women with breast cancer concerns. I’m no doctor, so don’t take my word for it, but there have been some studies done that you can read online.

  • I was in the south of France a few years ago during the height of lavender season…it was amazing! even on a boat almost a mile from the coast, all you could smell was lavender

  • Sometime you should visit Sequim, WA – lavender capital! The annual Sequim Lavender Festival was just held a couple of weeks ago. If you come, you should stay at George Washington Inn (www.georgewashingtoninn.com), a replica of Mount Vernon on the exterior – George Washington’s home. It is a bed & breakfast in Port Angeles, WA (20 minutes from Sequim) that my parents own.

  • I adore lavender! What an amazing experience you must have had. (Although the bees sound a little scary.) I can’t even imagine how divine an entire field of lavender would smell! ~Have a beautiful weekend~
    XO Piper

  • these photos are amazing… always love your posts! and is there anyone alive who doesn’t totally love lavender?

  • how perfectly beautiful! I just snipped a few sprigs off some lavendula growing on the corner of our road, in a vacant lot while on my morning walk with the babe, wonderful start for the day.

  • I’ve never heard of that about lavender around young kids… and I’m just about to plant a giant hedge of the stuff. Hmmm…

  • So amazing! There’s a bunch of lavender farms in the central Texas area where I live and I love these great ideas for what to do when I go pick my own. I love that bouquet too, so beautiful. Does anyone know what kind of leaves are mixed with that bouquet in the photo (the one with the boutonniere)?

  • reall beautiful photos! can you tell me where you got the tiny little tree stump salt cellar? it’s adorable!

  • I have swaths of lavender planted in my front garden. There is no way that someone can walk along my garden path without brushing against it. If you are pregnant, you need to avoid contact with lavender oil though.

  • Great write up! It makes me miss my time spent in France harvesting, picnicking, and just enjoying all the wonder of Lavanula angustifolia! I think it is a bit of an obsession.

  • The field is on a private estate so unfortunately guests cannot drop by! We mixed some scented geranium leaves in with the lavender for even more fragrance. And Jill’s husband makes the small stump dishes- we have a few at the shop for sale: shoot us an email if you are interested!

  • I just got back from the 14th annual Lavender Festival in Sequim, WA (lavender capital of North America!) and boy, was it dreamy. I highly recommend a visit, though all the farms will be considerably less crowded the weekends before/after the festival.

  • Simply stunning. Lavender is my fav flower. We have two little gardens of it and just harvested!
    Have you tried Lavender Lemonade? To die for, I’ll be sure to email it to you when I post about it.

  • The long stems in the photo look more like Grosso lavender to me. We have fields of lavender here at Los Poblanos in Albuquerque and in July we have a wonderful lavender festival.

  • This shoot is beautiful, the lavender adds the perfect aesthetic for a bunch of wild ladies! I love to use lavender in my crafts for its beautiful scent, but also for cooking! MMMM…

  • Isn’t lavender the best!!? I’ve been really into making cocktails with lavender this year. Just add a few sprigs of lavender to some vodka in an airtight container and place in your refrigerator for a few days. Add the infused vodka to lemonade and some sparkling water for a really refreshing treat!!

  • Lovely! The landscape reminds me of the beautiful UXUS La Finca project you published a while ago.

  • Ojai, CA has a lavender festival every year as well. Check on-line for details. (I think it’s every June).

    I had dessert at the Getty one year and I’ll never forget not only the presentation but the combinations as well. Lemon ice cream, pound cake and some dreamy sauce and dried lavender buds sprinkled all over. So yummy! I haven’t seen it there since. Oh well.

  • We get very good Idea to utilize the wild Lavender grown naturally in our area, Hunza valley people never know about it and I am working on small projects which gives employment to the local men and women from the mountain regions of Gilgit-baltistan, a remote mountain region in North Pakistan. We are abandoned with natural herbs and wild flowers….your article helps a lot to get idea about new productions…thank you

  • Hello, I’m looking to find a wild lavender field to spread the ashes of my soul mate … does anyone know where one can be located in California or West Coast?