Lavender Frenzy

Vibrant color and intense aroma cast a spell on all who cross paths with this favorite herb.

| June/July 2002

  • A bucket of ‘White Spike’, ‘Maillette’, and ‘Royal Velvet’ rests on a warm summer day after harvest next to a field of ‘Royal Velvet’ and ‘Dutch Mill.’

  • One whiff of the stately L. ¥intermedia ‘Grosso’, a popular lavender variety, and you’ll start to feel refreshed and relaxed.
    Photography by Anybody Goes

  • ‘Provence’ lavender provides the perfect hiding place for this resident farm hen.

  • To celebrate summer, L. stoechas ‘Otto’s Quest’ shows off its bright bracts.

Amere drift of lavender’s provocative fragrance—pungently floral with fresh pine, woods, hay, and citrus—hints at romance. Lavender has an unwavering link to antiquity, a deep relationship to humans, and a universal appeal.

In the little town of Sequim, Washington, you’ll get more than a whiff. In fact, the air is fragrant for miles around because this area is home to more than twenty-five lavender farms. Lavender thrives there quite naturally, thanks to a quirk of geography. This tiny, sea-level enclave extending from the Strait of Juan de Fuca inland about twenty miles along the Dungeness Valley, rests in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains. This microclimate is similar to that of lavender’s native Mediterranean. The heat and drought—only about 10 inches of rain falls all year—coupled with a very long growing season, makes this verdant valley ideal for growing lavender.

“Awareness of and demand for lavender is at an all-time high here in the United States,” says Mike Reichner, who with his wife Jadyne owns Purple Haze Lavender Ltd. and is a member of the Sequim-Dungeness Lavender Growers’ Association. Lavender’s popularity is riding a purple wave across North America.

The Reichners are riding that wave, too. “We’ve gone from nineteen plants in 1996 to 18,000 plants and fifty varieties on seven-and-a-half acres,” he says. Their company sells 1 ton of lavender florets a year, and revenue from all their lavender products is up 400 percent over last year.

For three days in July during the Celebrate Lavender Festival, the town of Sequim’s population triples as visitors seek out plants, products, and the luscious lavender experience.

Lavender Primer

The bloom, fragrance, foliage, form, and color of lavenders are assets to any garden. 

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