One of the pleasures of a long winter is that Mother Nature gives us a rest from the garden and time to plan and indulge our curiosity about the world outside of the farm. As a lavender lover I have been armchair traveling to other countries that produce lavender oil and sampling their essential oils this Winter, focusing on Lavandula Angustifolia oils. What a delight! Each country seems to have it’s own signature lavender fragrance and benefits, and I appreciate their unique differences! It’s hard to chose a favorite because, like wine, each satisfies a different mood or use.
Mediterranean countries have the longest history of distilling lavender essential oil but, with the globalization of the plant, lavender is wild crafted or cultivated all around the World on nearly every continent. Far flung countries like India, Australia, South America, and South Africa offer some of the most tantalizing scents these days. The US is also cultivating lavender for essential oil, primarily on the West Coast and, more recently, in the Southwest. We are very eager to try our US oils when they become more available and affordable.
Lavender can be compared to grapes in the sense that temperature, days of sunshine, rain and growing season all impact lavender’s scent and bounty. A dry Summer might produce stunted plant growth, for example, but very fragrant oil and intense flowers which translate into a spectacular Essential Oil. Growing altitude also impacts lavender’s fragrance. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the elevation the greater the difficulty in harvesting or wild crafting the lavender, and the more precious and pricey the resulting oil.
One of our all time favorite oil is the French variety “Population;” considered the benchmark angustifolia oil. It is raised in almost perfect conditions at a latitude offering long daylight hours, a high altitude of 3500 feet, moderate rainfall and a sandy soil. It has a thin, sweet, green strong scent and makes wonderful perfume, as well as being known for its therapeutic qualities. We reserve this oil for our Lavender Personal Diffusers with refills, which use the precious oil very efficiently.
Lavender Bulgarian Essential Oil has a rich lavender-floral scent which is somewhat fruitier and more mellow than Population, and is a little less expensive. We love this oil and use it in our Essential Oil Synergies because it holds its own with other strongly scented oils like Tea Tree or Eucalyptus and is grown organically in Bulgaria’s Rose Valley.
We’ve also sampled lavender essential oils from Moldova, the Ukraine and South Africa, and found that each has their own unique scent and appeal. I think my favorite Lavender Essential Oil might be Kashmir, from the northern mountains of India. This is pricey and not available in great quantity because it is wild crafted in a very unsettled region of India. But, I would use the word “divine” to describe its scent.
This Winter is also giving us the time to experiment with blending oils to demonstrate new research on lavender’s medicinal qualities. Spanish Stoechas has a sharp note but is very medicinal and, when blended with Lavender Seville Absolute and Lavandula Dentate, they form a synergy posited to treat stubborn infections according to new research shared by the US Lavender Grower’s Association. Our testing at Lavender Green is experimental and we’re using it on ourselves and volunteers only at this point in straight, carrier oil and cream formulations.
I have also found myself watching PBS and the Travel Channel this Winter in an attempt to learn more and get a better understanding of the countries producing the wondrous lavender Essential Oil. It’s been a total treat and my real vs. virtual travel bucket list has grown! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to roam the world like free spirits searching out the most fragrant and addictive lavender essential oil? It could take us many Winters!
Comment and tell us which Lavender fields top your bucket list?