Lavender grower infuses workshop with good scents
March 4, 2011 · Updated 9:55 AM
Lavender brings to mind the sunny landscapes of the south of France. But thanks to lavender lovers like Sarah Richards, the beautiful plant has gained a foothold and a following on Whidbey Island. Richards will elucidate the mysteries of growing this plant of many uses in two classes at the Whidbey Gardening Workshop Saturday, March 19 at Coupeville High School.
In her first class, “Loving Lavender in the Landscape,” Richards will show participants how to take care of their plants. She’ll demonstrate what lavender needs to thrive and when and where to plant.
In her second class, “Lavender as an Edible and Essential Herb,” Richards said, “There’ll be a whole lot of tasting going on.” She’ll provide recipes and demonstrate the distillation of lavender into an essential oil used in perfume and medicine.
Richards’ love affair with lavender began when she spent her junior year in college in Provence. She remembers vividly arriving in a Provencal town where the very air was suffused with the fragrance of lavender perfume. In 1998 she bought a small farm on the west side of Whidbey in what turned out to be a good location for growing the flowering herb. “In the Northwest, we are at roughly the same latitude as France,” she said. “Here we have the same duration of light. We have sunny and dry summers.” A life-long gardener, she named her new home “Lavender Wind Farm.” “Lavender loves the wind,” she said.
The Whidbey Gardening Workshop offers 59 classes in growing vegetables, fruits and flowers and in preparing and preserving the bounty of your garden. For a complete list of workshop classes and to register online, go to http://islandcountymastergardeners.com/. To register by mail, call 360-240-5527. The cost is $35, with a box lunch available for $8. The Whidbey Gardening Workshop is a program of the Master Gardeners of Island County.