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Lavender attracts highway motorists

Lavender farmer Gordon Edwards was happy that rainfall returned to normal this year. But he wasn’t happy that it chose to rain this particular morning, when he planned to harvest some of the bright blossoms.

Edwards plucked enough lavender to partially fill the bottom of his cart, then gave up on the effort until drier conditions arrived.

Edwards and his partner Susan Morgan own Sweetwater Lavender Farm. It’s not hard to find. Anyone driving the island on Highway 20 will come across it just south of Coupeville. Several acres of beautiful lavender blossoms are impossible to ignore and cars slow to enjoy the sight during the summer blooming season.

Despite his momentary displeasure with the rain, Edwards was overall pleased with this year’s precipitation. “Last year only 12-inches of rain fell on this field,” he said. “One-third less than usual.” As a result last year’s lavender crop lacked a bit in quality. But this year the plants are strong, healthy and colorful.

The healthy plants translate into better business. “We’re ahead of last year in sales,” Edwards said. The lavender fields attract people like apple blossoms attract bees. Many can’t help but stop by when they see the flowers.

The public is welcome at Sweetwater Lavender Farm. There are some 27,000 lavender plants to enjoy and display gardens with 90 varieties of lavender and a countless number of herbs. Lavender can be u-picked for drying at home, or purchased already picked.

The lavender oil is used to produce a number of soaps, gels, lotions, all available at the farm. The lavender scent is described in farm literature as “fresh, sweetly floral, refreshing and relaxing.”

This is the seventh lavender crop for the couple, who started their business at a Thompson Road location on South Whidbey. They still have a presence there as the new lavender plants lining Langley’s Sixth Street are from Sweetwater Farm. Langley’s lavender bloomed this summer, but the display should get better as the plants mature in three to five years, Edwards said.

Edwards said this is prime time for lavender lovers. “The plants are tightly budded,” he said. “It’s a good time to cut your own.”

Farm hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but nobody’s watching the clock. “We’re pretty laid back here. We get more business when the closed sign’s out,” he said. For more information about the farm and its products, go to www.sweetwater lavender.com.

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