La Recolte de Lavande

Alexandrine texted me one evening to say that Aero had torn his fly rug again.  I went up to the farm the following morning to swap it for the spare so I could bring it home to fix it.  I heard a tractor nearby and wondered if they had started harvesting the lavender in my favourite field.  You know, this one :

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Sure enough, La Recolte (the harvest) had begun!  I’ve been hoping to get pictures of it, so I walked over and started snapping.

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Peter Mayle described the lavender being cut by hand back in the 1980s in A Year in Provence.  Well, we’ve moved on from there.  It was being gathered just like any other grain – cut by a mower and spat into a large hopper…

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…which is then emptied into a waiting trailer.

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Then it will be taken to the distillery, where it will be turned into essential oil.

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This is actually Lavandin, not Lavender – there’s a really good article at the Jersey Lavender Blog which explains the difference between the two.  Lavandin is cheaper so it is used in the production of washing powder, washing-up liquid, shampoo, air fresheners etc, whereas Lavender has a more delicate scent and is preferred by the perfume industry.  Lavandin has a higher Camphor content, too, which makes it a handy additive to insect repellants.  Too bad the horse-flies seem to be immune to it!

Being a country girl at heart, I was fascinated with the mower.  It runs along the top of each row, gathering the heads into a bunch and then chopping them off, before blowing them out into the hopper, just like a silage mower.

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It’s sad to see the lavandin go, but it’ll be back again next year.

DSCN4294And YES! the smell was amazing!

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