LOVE FOR LAVENDER

Enjoy the buzz of the Colorado Lavender Festival July 12-14

Workers harvest lavender at Sage Creations Organic Farm on East Orchard Mesa last year during the second annual Colorado Lavender Festival. This year’s festival begins July 12 and features a motorcoach tour viewing lavender farms from Palisade to Paonia.



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Workers harvest lavender at Sage Creations Organic Farm on East Orchard Mesa last year during the second annual Colorado Lavender Festival. This year’s festival begins July 12 and features a motorcoach tour viewing lavender farms from Palisade to Paonia.

If you’ve wondered what the fuss is about growing lavender in western Colorado, you probably haven’t had the chance to stand in the middle of a lavender field in full bloom. I’ve never seen so many bees before, buzzing from plant to plant with fervor and scrambling to nuzzle every single velvety bud. You can almost feel the reverberation from all the buzzing.

Don’t worry, the bees and their stingers couldn’t care less about humans. They’re too busy drinking in the lovely magic of the purple haze. And you have a chance to drink, eat and slather yourself in lavender enchantment, too, at the third annual Colorado Lavender Festival next week, from July 12-14.

At the lavender festival, you can wander among the fields, blooming with purple, pink and white spikes, and breathe in the intoxicating scent of this incredibly useful plant. You can marvel at all the different varieties and their amusing names, like twickle purple and Miss Katherine.

There’s a wealth of knowledge you can access at the lavender festival. Even determining a particular kind of lavender you might like to plant in your landscape can be a difficult choice.

Although any lavender can be used for its beauty and scent, some varieties are valued for different uses, like cooking, cosmetics or crafts. Knowing the scientific name is helpful if you’re looking for a particular kind of lavender for a specific purpose. There are many cultivars, and the names can get very confusing.

Two types of lavender grow well in western Colorado. Angustifolia lavender is revered for its high-quality essential oil, distilled from the buds and used for therapeutic applications. This type of lavender is commonly referred to as English lavender or “true” lavender, and includes varieties like Folgate, Hidcote and Royal Velvet.

The other common type of lavender grown in the area is referred to as “lavandin.” This is a hybrid lavender and includes varieties like Grosso, Provence and Hidcote Giant.

Most lavender growers cultivate more than one kind of lavender, so you have the chance to see many varieties in-person during the festival.

The highlight of the festival is the exclusive motorcoach tour Friday, where you can rub elbows with other lavender aficionados and tour lavender farms from Palisade to Paonia. The tour offers a unique chance to interact personally with many of the lavender growers, and if you’re interested in the nitty gritty of farming lavender, this is the tour for you. This tour requires reservations and also includes a lavender-inspired lunch and wine reception.

On Saturday, the festival starts in Palisade Memorial Park. The schedule includes several seminars (for a small fee) focused on the many uses of lavender, growing methods and the economics of growing lavender, for those lavender entrepreneurs. There’s also a free cooking demonstration and a $15 wreath-making class. A presentation on lavender research being conducted by Curtis Swift of Swift Horticultural Enterprises and the Lavender Association of Western Colorado also will be Saturday.

On Sunday, you can get a map of lavender farms and take a self-guided tour. The best part of this is getting to see all the different varieties of lavender that flourish in western Colorado. Each farm is like a test garden for you to see best growing practices and the types of lavender that grow best in our arid climate.

For information or to register for Friday’s lavender farm tour, visit http://www.coloradolavender.org.

Erin McIntyre is an advanced master gardener, writer and Grand Valley native. Please email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with story ideas or feedback.



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