Heavenly French Lavender

The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs,

with fields of lavender,

and the brightest roses blushing in tufts all over the meadows…

                                                                        ~Willian Cullen Bryant, 1794-1878

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas and surrounding villages. Allow time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the fifth in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along?)

sweet dreams

 The air at Chateau Dumas is heavenly. The fragrance of blooming lavender from tens of hundreds of plants thriving behind carefully manicured hedges gently floats through the 18th-century windows up to the second floor. The magnificent aromatic sends me off to sweet dreams. 

carriage house studio facing east2

Lavender gives the illusion of feather stitches holding the Chateau garden sections together with their spectacular, billowing fronds. Indigenous to the Mediterranean region, lavender is a perennial and grows well in this perfect climate–fully enjoying the sun of the gardens and fields. The sandy, slightly alkaline soil of the Chateau’s gardens is just the environment for the lavender to thrive. I dream of having lovely gardens here in southern France…

I am mesmorized by the dreamy fragrance of the herb, and how the plant sways gently in the warm breezes. Even the bees and yellow butterflies can’t get enough of the sweet, soothing fragrance and seemingly grow dizzy from their over-indulgance in the warm, late afternoon sun. As the days progress, my muscles and bones feel soothed from the medicinal properties of the delicate, soft lavender fronds. I can not help but linger amongst the lavender each time I pass through the gardens from the Chateau to the atelier in the former carriage house. Ahh…it is simply impossible to resist rubbing the lavender between my fingers. Please,  just one more sniff of the soothing fragrance before I continue on to the studio in the carriage house. Please…

Lavender and front of Chateau  fav 1

Lavender, Bee and Chateau

lavender wands

Serendipitously, the gracious Chatelaine de Dumas arranges for her lovely friend to spend an hour or so teaching about French lavender, and the making of Victorian-era lavender wands as her mother taught her as a very young girl. Just after the morning dew dissipates, large bunches of lavender are gathered for the lavender session later in the day. The lavender is neither damp nor dry. Rub and sniff some more.

Some gathered lavender FAV 1

sweet lavender “cages”

A few of us join Chrissie Marshall in the dinning room after our lunch for a lavender intermezzo from our millinery masterclass. With her lovely Scottish brogue, Chrissie recounts how her mother and father taught her how to read at four and sew at five. Throughout her childhood, they taught her many ageless crafts and traditions–including making beautiful fragrant sachets and wands using the garden’s bountiful gifts. Her voice is as soothing as the lavender.

We are eager to learn how to make lavender wands from the newly-harvested herbs from the Chateau’s gardens. The lavender wands are only made once a year when the lavender stems are soft and pliable–it is now the perfect time of the year. The suppleness of the lavender stems and flowers is vital for ease in successful wand making.

Lavender bunches FAV 2

Lavender Bunches FAV

Chrissie tells us the lavender fragrance will last for several years in the wands. Even though the lavender will dry, the dried wands simply need to be squeezed to release their fragrant oils.

Christie - lavender master teacher FAV

The wands can be hung in a room, closet or placed in drawers to repel moths–much better than mothballs.  I think the fragrant memories of France should be everywhere after I return home! Chrissie shows three different methods of making lavender wands–all of which are lovely.

Lavender wand types FAV 2

Types of lavender wands FAV

An even number of lavender stems are collected, and the leaves are gently stripped off the stems. The stems are then gathered in a small bunch and the tops of the flowers are aligned. A small piece of thin wire–about 1-1/2 inches –is wrapped around the base of the flowers to secure the bouquet. Then a long piece (about three yards or so) of narrow 1/4 inch peach-colored satin ribbon is tied over the wire–leaving a very short end of ribbon and a long end of ribbon.

The bundle of lavender stems is turned over, and the stems are carefully bent down over the lavender blossoms–making a “cage” with the stems. A couple of the rebellious blossoms are gently encouraged back inside the cage. Each of the stems are lined up around the blossoms. The short end of the peach ribbon is tucked inside amongst the lavender.

Using a large-eyed tapestry needle, the long end of the ribbon is “threaded” and the weaving process starts going under and over–round and round–the lavender cage until it is beautifully covered. We each practice weaving, and feel so relaxed.

lavender wand and basket FAV2

Lavender weaving FAV1

keepers of memories

More lavender is selected from that harvested this morning, and additional simple lavender wands are easily assembled into small bunches and secured. Michelle generously shares some of her gorgeous, vintage robin’s egg blue ribbon discovered on a little excursion to a French hatmaker in another village. Some of the wands are embellished with this lovely little treasure. What a keepsake. This is an intermezzo that creates fragrant memories…

Lavender and Blue ribbon FAV 2

Lavender, sweet lavender; come and buy my lavender,
hide it in your trousseau, lady fair.
Let its flovely fragrance flow over you from head to toe,
lightening on your eyes, your cheek, your hair.

~Cumberkand Clark, Flower Song Book (c.1929)

More about other lovely sights of  a millinery dream trip to France in the days ahead as they unfold.

à bientôt mes amis!

Read more at French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Estivales du Chapeau {hat festival in France

Read more at Creativity at Chateau Dumas

Be sure to visit A Southern Daydreamer for more outdoor musings.

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47 Comments

Filed under crafts, France, Gardening, Home, Travel, Vintage

47 responses to “Heavenly French Lavender

  1. Hi DebbyKay!
    Though not as romantic as making lavender wands in France, I recently did a post on this very thing (http://ladyfarmerparables.blogspot.com/2009/07/making-lavender-wand.html )
    Brilliant minds think alike, eh?
    I do love lavender!
    Blessings!

    • debbykay

      Isn’t lavender just heavenly?! It is so soothing…

      I image you have a lot of lavender growing in the Pacific NW! Do you attend any of the lavender festivals?

      Best to you!

  2. Dear Debbykay,

    I love the quotes your shared, the beautiful photos and your lovely, descriptive writings! You make me feel as if I was there in France with you! Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip with me!

    The lavender is just beautiful. I can imagine how enjoyable it was to weave the pretty ribbon through the lavender, all the while taking in the relaxing fragrance. Your instructor is such a lovely lady, and it was so nice of your friend to share her pretty vintage ribbon! The garden at the Chateau is beautiful and I have no doubt that your garden is equally as beautiful at your Rose Cottage! You have a beautiful heart dear friend and I know your Rose Cottage is a very beautiful place to be because of it! Thank you for the very kind comment you left for me, it was just the thing I needed before I retire for the night, and visiting you here, seeing more of your beautiful dream trip, has me quite at ease! Hopefully I will dream of fields of lavender in France!

    I hope your week is wonderful dear friend! I look forward to more of your trip! I am so glad you are sharing!

    Love and blessings, your friend in the south,
    Paula

  3. oooohhhhhh….
    i just stumbled upon your lovely blog!

    🙂

    lucky you!!!
    you went on the french general holiday!!!

    Wonderful Photos…

    will come back to explore more,
    lucky, fortunate YOU!

    • debbykay

      I am so glad that you stopped by for a bit of exploration at the amazing Chateau Dumas! It is so gorgeous here–the beauty spectacular! Join me in a stroll through the gardens, or a bit of adventure in and around the Chateau! I was so fortunate to be able to participate in the Millinery Masterclass the week following French General’s Chateau Getaway.

      Thank you for your lovely comments!

  4. Everything is so beautiful DebbyKay. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂 You will have to check out Raeann’s post. I love Lavender and am hoping that one day my little plant will grow up 🙂

    Have a blessed day!

    ~Sharon

  5. Edie

    Dearest Debbykay~
    What a wonderful blog on lavender… I can almost smell that french lavender from here.

    What a fun craft and great way to use lavender around your home…

    I’ll be back for more adventures….

    Love,
    Edie

  6. Am loving the tour of France. Thanks!

  7. What a wonderful blog you have!

    I can almost smell that lavender! Just love it! How I would love to see fields of lavender in real life such as I’ve seen in magazines!

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I must return to browse your archives when it’s not late. It’s almost 1 a.m. here in FL now!! Must go to bed!

    Katherine

  8. Thank you so very much for stopping by my blog so i could find YOU!! Ohhh my — this is heaven.

    What a lovely job you are doing. I wanted to post this fast so i could go back and study your lovely blog.

    TTFN~~Claudia ♥

  9. what a beautiful and enchanting place to stay…
    i love the smell of lavender and found myself breathing a little deeper while reading your post.
    no lavender here in midwest missouri but i can go out and smell the catmint which is nearly as wonderful!
    those bundles are so pretty with the ribbon woven through them. how lovely.
    and what a lovely blog you have.
    chasity

  10. Simply divine, I love lavender.

  11. Mar

    I love lavender, the wands are beautiful and what a wonderful thing to share with us!!

  12. Dear Debbykay,

    What a lovely tutorial! I tried making lavender wands for the first time this year, but they turned out like lavender mummies, instead! I think I’ll use a tapestry needle next time 🙂 .

    You are living my dream of going to Provence~I appreciate your beautiful photos of everything, it’s so much like being there. Plus, I love hats and wear them all the time, so a millinery class, wow!

    Thank you for sharing your adventure with us,

    Love and blessings,

    Marqueta

  13. I have just learned how to make those lavender wands so I am going to pick some this weekend and start weaving. My first one is a little misshapen but the scent is heavenly nevertheless. Enjoy your weekend, xv.

  14. Your son

    I can’t wait for these to come in the mail!!! The house will be filled with the relaxing smell of Lavender.

    You might have to count them when I leave to make sure one didn’t fall into my bags.

  15. What a pretty post as always.. I love lavender so much…I tried to grow some around my house, but it just doesn’t seem to like my soil… Those lavender wand turned out so pretty…Love the pretty ribbons with the lavender… I miss seeing your posts…. I’ve been just so busy with work and tasks of the summer…I hope you’re doing good…
    STephenie

  16. Mom

    I had no idea lavender could be made into such beautiful bundles – so very lovely and the fragrance would be delightful! Your blog is enchanting!

    Love, Mom

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  18. What a lovely post! I would like to link it on my blog! All of my followers love lavender!

  19. C’est tres beau!
    I love the tutorial, and the beauty of lavender.
    Heaven scent ahhhhhhh

    Love Claudie
    xo

  20. I just bought a lavender wand. I had never seen one before.
    I am so glad to see how it was made.
    They smell devine, don’t they?
    Rhonda

  21. What a delightful post on a such beautiful subject! I would love to have some lavender wands to tuck in among my linens.

  22. Love lavender! I had several plants a few years back in New Mexico and they loved the weather there as they always gave me lots of lavender to make wands, sachets and such with! I would love to plant some more especially now that I have bees! Lavender Honey- yum!!

    blessings
    mary

  23. Beautiful pictures and lovely descriptions!

  24. I used to grow lavender and, oh, how I loved it. One day I will grow it again. Love the pictures. Thanks for sharing!

    Christi

  25. How beautiful ! I love lavender, I have not seen lavender wands like that before. : )

  26. What a lovely blog and post….I wish I could smell that lavender. I bet its heavenly!

  27. What a lovely blog. Thanks for sharing and the education on lavender. Just charming.
    Maryrose

  28. I love the smell of Lavender! Thank you for sharing!

    xoxoxoxo
    Donna Marie

  29. I can just imagine a closet smelling of sweet lavender and at the same time keeping those moths away. I’ve never seen these wands before and they are wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  30. What a lovely post. I can’t imagine being able to be there for these classes. Thanks for sharing! This is my very favorite kind of lavender and the same variety I grow in my garden here at home. I do love to go out and just grab a stem and rub it between my fingers! I can’t wait to read more!

    Robin

  31. bj

    I enjoyed this post very much.
    Happy ODW…

  32. wish there was a way to get that aroma here as well they look wonderful and the home looks so peaceful

  33. Amy

    Oh….you are making me feel so quilty. I have been meaning to plant lavender for the last few years and never get around to it. Just a lovely post! Thanks for sharing!!

  34. The Lavendar is beautiful and the wands are very cool.

  35. Debbykay, your lavender post is divine. I adore the smell of lavender. I remember making sure I found lavender soaps and cream to send to a sweet granny from England. Lavender is the most soothing fragrance I can think of. Lemon soap may be second. My mom loved lemon soap and she would keep it in her undies drawers. I wonder if I could grow lavender. I am growing Russian sage and it too has a very soothing fragrance.

    Thank you for a beautiful post.

    Hugs…Jeanne

  36. “Sweet!” Wonderful tutorial and pictures.
    jfm

  37. I mentioned your post on my blog today! Thank you!

    • debbykay

      Oh, so sweet of you to share the post with your followers on your blog! Thank you for your kindness!!

      Gratefully,
      Debbykay

  38. What a beautiful blog you have.
    Diane has asked me to come and visit and I am glad I did.
    I love lavender and have some growing around my house. The fragrance and flowers are beautiful

    Enjoy your weekend
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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