Page 60 - The Hunt - Summer 2019
P. 60

                                                                                                                    LAVENDER LOVE
continued from page 51
wet,” says Voelcker, who had to create small hills for proper drain- age. “The best conditions for lavender are high altitude on a hill. They’re similar to grapes for wine, in terms of what they like.”
While summer is prime time for harvesting, lavender farming demands a year-round commitment. When the harvesting and dis- tilling finishes in October, Saha and Voelcker order any new plants needed for the following year. Care continues into winter, when Voelcker installs snow fencing to help protect the plants. Despite her efforts, the weather can take a toll. “In the six years I’ve had the lavender, I’ve had three good winters and three bad winters,” she says. “In the bad winters, I’ve had to replace hundreds of plants.”
Come spring, it’s all about pruning in preparation for blooming season. “If you don’t prune them regularly, they get woody—and the wood tends to get rotted,” Voelcker says.
What lavender they can’t manage to distill during summer, they hang to dry in their barn. Its walls are lined with dozens of nails on strips of wood, separated at even intervals.
In total, the sisters have seven different lavender varieties on
the farm. Each has a distinct flower—some purple, some blue—
and bloom at different times. Varieties include Grosso, Provençe, Phenomenal, Hidcote and Munstead, and they’re also growing a white lavender called Elegance. “The English lavender is the richer color— it’s better for crafts,” says Saha. “The French is better for essential oils.”
Lavender is also cropping up in the culinary arts. It’s something
the two have been experimenting with. Voelcker uses the English Buena Vista variety for ice cream and mojitos. Elsewhere on the farm, they’ve planted cutting flowers, sunflowers and vegetables.
Ultimately, though, it’s all about that first lavender field. In the center of it, a pergola with purple bench swings provides a focal point and the perfect spot to unwind. It’s where Mt Airy Lavender hosts yoga, workshops and the occasional wedding. Like the farm itself, the pergola is a peaceful respite in an unexpected place—one borne out of persistence and ingenuity.
   To learn more, visit www.mtairylavender.com.
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58 THE HUNT MAGAZINE sUMMEr 2019
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