Collecting and Drying the Harvest
Anticipating a bumper crop of fragrant lavender this year after planting more than 30 ‘Phenomenal’ plants in the spring of 2015, I was ready. Ready with lots of purple chiffon bags for sachets, wreath wire forms, and hanging space for the dozens of hand-gathered bundles removed from a thriving hedgerow of lavender plants. And ready with some new ideas of what to try with my sweet-smelling harvest. See Lavender Honey-Scented Body Butter and Lavender Honey Ice Cream posts for previous articles. The Lavender Honey Ice Cream is sublime!
Just as the small purple flowers are opening, I get myself ready for the harvest. Using my sharpest shears, I cut right above the woody part of the plant. This action also prunes it, making the plant neat and tidy looking for the next harvest.
Gathering the harvest is a delightfully aromatic job with lots of bumbles and honeybees still attached. Not likely to sting, I gently brush the bees off while cutting, bunching, and stacking bundles. Gathering in the early evening, bumblebees tend to congregate and sleep on the flower wands, but the heat of midday is too hot for me to handle. I will take the bees anytime!
Taking about three years to reach full maturity, I can now cut about six to eight bunches per plant. Every year a few plants bite the dust and I fill in the holes with young transplants.
One bunch of lavender stalks fill your hand comfortably and I rubber band the bundle tightly. As the stalks dry they shrink and the rubber band shrinks with it. The band becomes a convenient holder to snag an opened paper clip which I attach to a braided rope hanging from my basement ceiling.
Look for a cool dark spot to dry your bunches to retain the best fragrance and color. Any bits and pieces of lavender stalks, I keep to use on the grill or fire pit for aromatic smoke.
Wreath Step By Step
Making a lavender wreath takes lots of flower stalks but this year, I had plenty. Gathering a large basket of cut stalks all facing one way is your first step. Using plenty of lavender to start with will ensure that as the wreath shrinks as it dries, it will still look full.
Creating smaller and shorter bunches for a wreath (about six to seven inches long) and wiring the bunches together makes it possible to create a beautiful fragrant wreath to hang in the house. Start with a 10 inch pinch clamp wire wreath base for a quick and easy method to make your garland. The only other supply you need is some thin wire to wind around the bunches. Your house will remain very fragrant for days after you create this beautiful circlet.
Make a fist sized bunch
Wire to fasten stems
Pinch bundle on wreath form with pliers
Keep arranging bundles on base
Finished! Add a wire hanger to the back and let dry flat
Add a wired moire ribbon bow to complete the dried wreath
13 Replies to “Lavender Harvest”
Claire….. this is Lavender Heaven!!!!! Your wreaths are beautiful….you are such an artist!!!!!! Are you harvesting honey now? And, are you selling it already? I would love some…please, let me know if I can pick some up….or meet you somewhere to get them from you!!!!
I will be harvesting in August and will post it on Facebook!
Wow, Claire, that is just awesome! I only have a few patches of lavender in the garden but I have yet to harvest any although it’s always been on my radar. This will be the year though – I’ll likely be too busy to do anything beyond displaying the dried and fragrant stems in a vase, but it’s a start.
That is start enough! The wands will be fragrant for weeks!
You are right, the bees don’t bother with me when they are busy with the lavender. I’m always reluctant to harvest it because the bees are so happy to have it. I didn’t know how far down to cut it but I guess I understand better now. I don’t have anywhere to hang it so I snip off the flowers and let them dry in a dish. I so love lavender/honey ice cream. Haven’t seen any lavender honey here in my neck of the woods yet but would love to find some. Yum. Thanks. Marlene
Maybe the smell of the lavender makes the bees mellow….it works for me! 😄
Wish I had enough to make a wreath! So very pretty! You’re an inspiration!
Meant to ask you if I missed the time when the flowers were just opening, is it still worth harvesting? Do you know any lavender fields that allow cutting? I’m in southern MD. Thanks!
I cut them at all times of opening. You will miss a little fragrance if you wait later, but I can’t cut them all at once. Try Seven Oaks Lavender Farm in Catlett, Virginia – I have this on my list to visit. On their website they say you can cut but you should do it soon to catch the best crop!,
Your article is right on time for me. I have had lavender planted in the same spot for 10 years. Never cut, now it has taken over & I cut it back to the ground! I plan to batch the flowers and dry per your article. My question—will the plants regenerate from the dead(wood) stems left in the ground or do I need to replace? Thanks, Pat
If you cut down too far, way into the wood, I recommend replacing them all. The plants will do much better in the long run. Lavender doesn’t respond well to extreme pruning.
How absolutely wonderful! It’s great to see such an abundant harvest of lavender, the scent must be beautiful too. I grew some (4 plants) and got many flowers too, so happy with that.
A beautiful sight Claire. I’ve made lavender ice cream before but not in a while. May be time to get busy on some. Enjoyed meeting you at the Fling.