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Lavender of Provence Newsletter

The night is fresh-washed and fair and there is a whiff of flowers in the air. Wrap me close, sheets of lavender. Pour your blue and purple dreams into my ears.The breeze whispers at the shutters and mutters queer tales of old days, and cobbled streets, and youths leaping their horses down marble stairways. lavenderPale blue lavender, you are the colour of the sky when it is fresh-washed and fair . . . I smell the stars. . . they are like tulips and narcissus . . . I smell them in the air.  

--from Men, Women and Ghosts by Amy Lowell


Before taking up the story of Lavender in Provence I would like to once again mention a few important things that are a recurrent theme in the different articles presented about aromatic plants and their essences. The story of each precious essences as it proceeds from field to distillery is a very ancient one, appearing in many forms in different times and cultures. In many cases the people using the end product have never seen the centers of production and understand little of the environments in which the plants grow, the people who tend and harvest them, the equipment used for distillation and extraction, etc. One of the purposes of these articles is to bring a bit of this behind the scenes story alive. It is my feeling that if we can learn to appreciate the totality of the story of how an essence comes into existence-it may help us to appreciate these liquid gems of nature even more.

A History of Lavender Production
Lavender is a member of the Labiatae family, which is synonymous with the Lamiaceae or mint family, and the Lavenders Lavandula are a genus of about 25-30 species of flowering plants within this family. The genus includes annuals, herbaceous plants, subshrubs, and small shrubs. Thought to have been originally cultivated in Arabia, lavender may have been carried by Greek traders as early as 600 BC to the islands off the southern coast of France ( later occupied by the Romans and the Saracens) from where it spread to France, Italy, and Spain (see Essentially Oils Newsletter, Nov. 2003). It is often stated that the English word lavender comes from the Latin lavare “to wash” because the Roman Empire routinely used lavender in perfumed oils for bathing. However, it is not known whether lavender was brought to Britain by the Romans or by European traders. Sally Festing, in The Story of Lavender, makes a strong case that the word lavender most certainly did not come from lavare but from the earliest spelled form livendula - Latin for “livid” or “bluish”. While some of these traders did make it to southern Britain, it is unlikely that lavender became established there until its introduction in the sixteenth century by French Hugenots, who probably came from southern France at a time when the religious wars were particularly violent. Lavenders native range now extends across the Canary Islands, North and East Africa, south Europe and the Mediterranean, Arabia, and India. Because the cultivated forms are planted in gardens world-wide, they are occasionally found growing wild, as garden escapees, well beyond their natural range. (see "Lavendar", Wikipedia)


Lavandula officinalis (syn. L. vera, L.augustifolia) now grows wild and spontaneously on the dry, barren, sunny mountain slopes of Southern France and adjacent Italy. It is an evergreen sub-shrub with much branched woody stems forming a dense hemispherical clump. All parts of the plant have the characteristic scent of lavender. Woody stems are 20 - 30cm long and densely covered in opposite, small, green, entire, linear leaves. Flowering stems are leafless and unbranched and rise well above the leafy stems up to 60cm in height. Flowers are small, bluish and 2-lipped and are easily separated from the spike-like terminal panicles. (see "Lavender", Ienica.net)

Lavender prefers loose, silicio-calcareous soil, and has invaded many farmlands of insufficient fertility abandoned years ago when the increasing industrialization of France drew its rural population to the cities. A relatively hardy plant, able to withstand the cold winter storms which rage over the high snow-covered mountains, it grows abundantly after heavy rainfalls and ample sunshine in the summer.

Lavender thrives most luxuriantly between rocks , along roadsides, and on inaccessible precipices. During the blooming period , in late July and early August, distant mountains slopes in the setting sun often glow in shades of indescribable delicacy.

Wild Harvested Lavender

Originally distillation was from wild harvested lavender. Gunther (The Essential Oils, v. 3, 1949, p. 442-3) describes the lavender industry in France during the early 20th century:

"The most beautiful plants seem to be located among heaps of stones and rocks....Many steep mountain slopes, where the plants grow abundantly are too dangerous of access to permit harvesting. Before 1910 lavender oil was distilled almost exclusively from the wild growing plants, planting and cultivating not having come into vogue then. Even today (1949 was when the article was written) a good percentage of the total production of lavender oils is distilled from the wild plants. One man can collect daily about 60 kg of wild plants. Because of the scattered growth, the yield of wild lavender per acre cannot be estimated.

Since the mountain slopes are, in general, the property of of various communities, the villages, each spring, auction the right of harvesting the the wild flowers within their territory. The adjudications present are even of considerable interest to the oil producers. The buying of such rights assures the distillers a guarantee for the supply of a given quantity of plant material and enables him to lower the price of other lots of lavender flowers, originating from other sources. The regions were gathers of lavender can cut freely on community territories or on private property are becoming fewer and fewer. The most important is that at the Mont Ventoux which covers more than 2,300 hectares.

The small form, petite or fine lavande grows wild on poor calcareous soils at the highest altitudes(typically from 700 meters to 1,300 meters or 4,300 feet) in the more northern sections of the Departments Basses-Alpes, Drome, Vaucluse and Haute-Alpes. it is relatively hardy and resistant to climatic inclemencies, such as extreme cold, fog, rain and exposure to strong sunlight in summer. It produces oil of the highest quality. "

(The above mentioned information on wild harvested lavender gives a brief insight into the industry up until early 1930's when wild harvested lavender became scarce for a number of reasons. The details of the decline of the wild lavender industry can be found in Volume 3 of Ernest Guenther's classic work Essential Oils in 6 volumes.)


Small Scale Cultivation

As early as 1910 attempts were made to bring the wild lavender under cultivation. It was found that this system hadadvantages as long as the small farmer made it a part of their total agricultural plan. If they grew it along with olives, grains and other crops it could provide the family with a little extra income during the few weeks that the lavender was being harvested. Even then some difficulties had to be overcome as the lavender grown under cultivation sometimes proved much short lived than in nature. Normally lavender was expected to grown from 8-10 years in the wild and under cultivation sometimes the duration of good health was only 3-4 years. Still a small farmer was in a much better position to weather the learning curve involved in cultivating lavender than those who went into commercial scale operations.

In the small family operations lavender was cut by hand as had been done in the past with the wild harvested lavender. In some villages co-operatives were formed and the gathering of lavender became a communal enterprise with farming families assisting each other with the harvest. Harvesting was formerly a job for women. The knife used, with a heavy, moon-shaped blade, was produced with a short handle as long as the width of woman's palm. The cutter grasped the lavender stem in one hand and cut it with the knife held in the other hand. She then moved on to the next stem, and the next, until she had a bundle in one hand. This was tied off with a stem. The bundles were left to dry in the field for several days before being subject to distillation or use in the dried form.

To make their enterprise more cost effective a local investment was made in distilling units which could serve the needs of the lavender co-operative of the area. The distilling units might be set up in some central location of in certain situations moved from locality to locality. Such stills typically held 50 kilos of plant material and 50 kilos of water. The plant material was completely immersed in water, and the latter brought to a boil by fire beneath the still. The stills were practical as they could easily be installed in any locality favored by ample lavender growth; a brook or fountain supplied the water for the condensers. So long as the operator took care not to "burn" the flower material through contact with the open fire with the still walls, the oils was of good quality and represented the only top of oil known at that time. The oils were evaluated on their perfume, which depended on the region, the altitude, and the quality of the plant material employed.

 

Large Scale Cultivation

In the early part of the 20th century, several attempts were also made to grow and distill lavender on a larger scale. Initially those who invested in large scale lavender plantations whose sole purpose was for growing the herb for distillation suffered significant losses. Such enterprises found that the heavy overhead expenses of labor which included workers, mechanics, foreman, office workers, etc caused them to charge higher prices for their oil than the market was willing to pay. Additionally the large capacity distillation units were only operational for a few weeks during the lavender harvest and then remained idle for the rest of the year. Decades later many of these problems were resolved,but in the transition period from a crop that was strictly wild harvested to one that was primarily cultivated heavy losses were sustained by those who ventured into commercial production of lavender oil.

During this time some valuable discoveries were made concerning the proper way to distill lavender oil. This was based on the research of Betram and Walbaum who researched the chemistry of lavender oil in 1892 and discovered that linalol and linalyl acetate were the main constituents of lavender. They concluded that the direct immersion of lavender in water would result in the partial hydrolysis of these esters. The solution to the problem was therefore to change the distillation technique so that the lavender plant would not be in direct contact with the boiling water as happened in traditional stills. Instead rapid distillation of lavender by direct steam was suggested with the steam being generated in a separate boiler or in boiler that encased the distilling unit. If the lavender was dried or semi-dried the distillation required only 45 minutes and if the lavender was freshly harvested somewhat longer. On an average it was found that the ester content was increased by 15% using the new direct steam technique as compared to the older hydro-distillation technique.

Capacity: 200 to 800 litres
Distilling time: 2 to 3 hours
Fuel: Wood, lavender straw, coal
The tank, which had increased in size, is protected by a masonry wall, which reduced heat loss. The development of the grid and the hoist were adapted onto this type of still. The grid, or "panier" separated the flowers from the boiling water, thus the distilled lavender could later be used as fuel.

The equipment for this type of distillation was constructed both for large scale distillation and to meet the needs of rural areas. These stills were mounted on small horse drawn carriages with separate steam boilers, which could easily transported into mountain areas where the lavender supply was ample and of easy access.

As the methods of distillation were refined, considerable attention was also put on whether the material should be dried, semi-dried or used fresh for distillation. Sun drying of the lavender was found to be positively detrimental to the quality of the oil-as up to 24 of the oil content of the plant was lost whereas if dried in the shade just 2-10% was lost. The best of oil of oil was found to be produced rapid steam distillation of freshly harvested material from plants grown at high altitude. The ester content of such oils was found to be in the range of 50-55% with some oils yielding 60% of ester content. The added advantage of using the fresh material was some of the more delicate aromatic constituents which were vaporized even in shade drying were retained in the oil giving it a finer aroma.

"Distillers located at high altitude produce oils of higher ester content, not only because of the fact that high-altitude, wild growing plants contain more esters, but also because of the fact that high altitude distillation means lower-temperature boiling. Consequently, the distilled oil is not exposed to 100 degree C. hot steam, but perhaps only to 92 or 93 degree C. Even this small decrease in temperature means that the hydrolysis of the natural linalyl esters take place at a much slower rate. A rapid distillation at slightly reduced pressure (high altitude) may thus produce an oil with nearly all the natural linalyl esters."
--see "Lavender Flower", Agora

The small village of Barreme which is at an altitude of 720 meters became the center of the new wave of the lavender industry. A modern distillation plant was erected there by Shimmel and Company. At one time 6 distilleries were operating there where the Fine Population Lavender was brought for distillation from the surrounding villages. To this day some of the finest quality high ester content lavender oils come from Barreme. The trend towards commercial distilleries spread to other regions of lavender growing regions of the mountains of Provence particularly the Departments of Drome and Valcluse.

During the period of growth-mainly during the 1920's and early 30's-the commercial distillers found that they had other problems to contend with. Their operations were dependent on a regular supply of lavender and had to be brought over long distances from the mountains. In order to accomplish these the individual distilleries had to be employ flower brokers and weighing posts throughout the regions in which they were located. The farmers would then cart their lavender to the closest village were the brokers were posted. The lavender was weighed and the farmers were paid or given credit for their aromatic wares.

The broker in turn had to collect enough material to warrant transport to the factory and this sometimes meant storing the lavender for several days. The plants dried during that time and when being transported the flower heads would often shattered and by the time they reached the distillery were often in less than prime condition. These and other related problems eventually caused many of the larger distilleries go out of business and caused the industry to move back to its smaller scale roots which was decentralized small distilleries in the mountain villages themselves but with equipment that had been redesigned for better quality distillation along the lines evolved by Shimmel and Company.

Lavender Cultivation Today

To this day the lavender industry remains very much alive in the mountains of Provence. It represents only a small percentage of the oil being distilling in France-the bulk of which is now Lavindin which grows in the lower elevations. The majority of the pictures that we see of the lavender crops of France, in modern times, is in fact of the fields of Lavindin. That story will perhaps be taken up in another newsletter.

In 1981 the lavender industry established an A.O.C., Appelation d'origine contrôlée (meaning "with a guarantee of origin"), for lavender such as is used in the wine industry. This "controlled origin label" is for "essential oils of lavender from Haute-Provence" and is only for essential oil of fine lavender (L. augustifolia). The fields must be located within a specific territory in the four lavender-producing départments mentioned earlier, at a minimum altitude of 800 meters. Generally speaking the distillations of the A.O.C. labeled oils is done on a cooperative basis with a number of farmers sharing a a commonly owned distillation unit. During the lavender season a number or distillations take place and these are blended together to create and oil that is the standard of that co-operative. The oils of different co-operatives may have their own unique qualities that are result of the microclimate in which they are grown. The oil must undergo both laboratory analyses and an olfactory test to qualify for the A.O.C. certification.

It is important to know that the A.O.C. certification has nothing to do with organically grown lavender. Those who are involved in the organic cultivation of Lavender often have their oils certified by an agency such as EcoCert. There are yet other distillers who produce only a few kilos of the most well distilled oil of lavender of the remote regions of Provence and those who are fortunate enough to know about them happily pay the high price for the rare and precious oil they produce. Such oil almost never appears on the market.


Below is a brief historical timeline of Lavender in France: (all references to therapeutic and medicinal uses in this article are for cultural interest only and not meant as a guide to treatment for disease)

Middle Ages-- Fine lavender grows in the herbalists' gardens and in the monastery gardens.

16th century-- Development of medicinal uses due to the Montpellier medical school.

1656 The status of the " master merchant Glovemakers and Perfumers" is confirmed.

1759 Creation of the guild of the master-perfumers in Grasse

Second half of the 19th century-- Sharp growth in demand for essential oil, marked increase in the production of essential oil made from wild lavender.

1905-1914 The "baïassières" or wild lavender stands, begin to be improved. More and more open-fire stills and increased family distillation. The first " factories " and steam stills appear.

1914-1928 Expansion of the gathering zones and increased planted areas.

1929 First sharp drop in price due to world-wide depression.

1928-1932 The hybrid lavandin crop develops.

1932-1959 Very sharp growth in crops. Gradual disappearance of the open-fire stills to the benefit of steam. Decreasing number of distilleries, however, increased capacities. Increasingly widespread mechanization.

1958-1962 Serious economic crisis which causes production to drop and crop area to shrink.

1970-1978 The widest-spread planting of lavender: fine lavender in the mountains and hybrid lavandin in the plains and on the plateaux.

1979-1980 Serious lavender crisis.

1994-1999 The area planted in lavender stabilizes. Distillation in tanks becomes more widespread.
--see "Historical Overview ", Les Routes de la Lavande

The following chart and map gives some idea of the quantities of Lavindin and Lavender being produced in Provence today:

21000 hectares of lavender and lavandin are cultivated in the South East of France, mainly in 4 geographic departments : Alpes de Haute Provence,Hautes Alpes, Drôme, Vaucluse.

Sizes in hectares(2.471 acres):

Alpes de Haute-Provence
9420-Lavandin
920-Lavande

Haute Alpes
40-Lavandin
105-Lavande

Drôme
3915-Lavandin
1245-Lavande

Vaucluse
2560-Lavandin
1730-Lavande

Other regions (Ardèche, Gard, Lot,
Bouches-du-Rhône)
1065-Lavandin


Total
17000-Lavandin
4000-Lavande

The total production for Fine Lavender Oil per year now stands at around 40-50 tons with Lavindin being many times more as both the area under cultivation is larger and the yield is 4-5 times that one can obtain from true Lavender.

Those who wish to explore this enchanting world can find detailed maps of distilleries and fields at:
"Maps and Itineraries", Les Routes de la Lavande

Those who wish to explore the evolution of the different types of stills used for lavender can see some fine diagrams at:
"Technical Evolution in Stills", Les Routes de la Lavande

 

Essences of Lavender
Lavender Essential Oil
It is a colorless or pale yellow liquid of a sweet, floral-herbaceous refreshing odor, with a pleasant, balsamic woody undertone. An almost fruity topnote is of very short life, and the entire oil is not distinguished for its tenacity of odor. The odor nuances varies considerably according to the source of the fresh material(wild or cultivated) , altitude at which it is grown, distilling equipment used, distilling technique used, country in which it is distilled, etc.

It is is used extensively in colognes(citrus colognes or wild known lavender-waters), in fougeres, chypres, ambres and countless floral, semi-floral or particularly in non-floral perfumes.

It blends well with bergamot and other citrus oil, clove oils(for "Rondeletia" type perfumes), flouve, liatris, oakmoss, patchouli, rosemary, sage clary, pine needle, linaloe berry, bergamot mint, petitgrain bigarade, Spanish sage, spike lavender, lavindin, neroli, orange flower water absolute and labdanum absolutes

Lavender Absolute
A dark to pale green viscous liquid of very rich, sweet-herbaceous, somewhat floral odor: in dilution it bears a close resemblance to the odor of the flowering shrubs. Its woody-herbaceous undertone and coumarin-like sweetness duplicate the odor of the botanical material far better than does the essential oil. The absolute is sweeter but less floral than the essential oil and the two materials can form a very pleasant combination. However one cannot replace the other in compounding(perfume).

Lavender Absolute is used in citrus-colognes, chypres, fougeres, new-mown-hay bases, forest notes etc It blends well with all the same materials as the essential oil.

Lavindin Essential Oil
It is a pale yellow to almost colorless liquid...The odor is strongly herbaceous with a very fresh camphene-cineole topnote which should not be distinctly camphoraceous. The rich, woody-herbaceous notes of the body components will usually become predominant with the first 60 seconds on a perfume blotter....The odor of the oil is not very tenacious...

It is used for its fresh, refreshing notes and often used in very high concentration in the perfume formula Blends well with countless natural ingredients such as clove, bay leaf, cinnamon leaf, citronella, cypress, geranium, pine needle oils, thyme, oregano, patchouli

Lavindin Absolute
A viscous, very dark green liquid of pronounced herbaceous odor, resembling that of the flowering herb closely. In comparison to the Lavindin oil, the absolute from concrete has a deeper sweetness and body as well as a rich undertone. The camphene-camphoraceous-like topnotes of the oil are subdued, if present at all, in the absolute
Some perfumes incorporating lavender
English Lavender (1910)
by Atkinsons

Royal Scottish Lavender (1856)
by Creed

Lavender (1821)
by Floris

English Lavender (1873)
by Yardley

Uses of Lavender

*Edible Uses

Leaves, petals and flowering tips - raw. Used as a condiment in salads, soups, stews etc. They provide a very aromatic flavor and are too strong to be used in any quantity.

The fresh or dried flowers are used as a tea. The fresh flowers are also crystallized or added to jams, ice-creams, vinegars etc as a flavoring.

An essential oil from the flowers is used as a food flavoring.
(see "Lavender", pioneerthinking.com)

*Other Uses

The essential oil that is obtained from the flowers is exquisitely scented and has a very wide range of applications, both in the home and commercially. It is commonly used in soap making, in making high quality perfumes (it is also used in 'Eau de Cologne'), it is also used as a detergent and cleaning agent, a food flavoring etc and as an insect repellent. When growing the plant for its essential oil content, it is best to harvest the flowering stems as soon as the flowers have faded. Yields of 0.8 - 1% of the oil are obtained.

The aromatic leaves and flowers are used in potpourri and as an insect repellent in the linen cupboard etc. They have been used in the past as a strewing herb in order to impart a sweet smell to rooms and to deter insects. The leaves are also added to bath water for their fragrance properties. They are also said to repel mice.

The flowering stems, once the flowers have been removed for use in potpourri etc, can be tied in small bundles and burnt as incense sticks.

Lavender can be grown as a low hedge, responding well to trimming. There are several varieties, such as 'Hidcote Variety', 'Loddon Pink' and 'Folgate Blue' that are suitable for using as dwarf hedges 30 - 50cm tall. (see "Lavender", pioneerthinking.com)
Lavender in Literature
As we proceeded slowly in the afternoon we were quite enchanted. This side of the hill is a natural plantation of the most agreeable ever-greens, pines, firs, laurel, cypress, sweet myrtle, tamarisc, box, and juniper, interspersed with sweet marjoram, lavender, thyme, wild thyme, and sage. On the right-hand the ground shoots up into agreeable cones, between which you have delightful vistas of the Mediterranean, which washes the foot of the rock; and between two divisions of the mountains, there is a bottom watered by a charming stream, which greatly adds to the rural beauties of the scene.

--Travels through France and Italy by Tobias Smollett
They trotted along quietly. The road now ran between two interminable forests of brush, which covered the whole side of the mountain like a garment. This was the “Maquis,” composed of scrub oak, juniper, arbutus, mastic, privet, gorse, laurel, myrtle and boxwood, intertwined with clematis, huge ferns, honeysuckle, cytisus, rosemary, lavender and brambles, which covered the sides of the mountain with an impenetrable fleece.

--Une Vie by Guy de Maupassant
They travelled leisurely; stopping wherever a scene uncommonly grand appeared; frequently alighting to walk to an eminence, whither the mules could not go, from which the prospect opened in greater magnificence; and often sauntering over hillocks covered with lavender, wild thyme, juniper, and tamarisc; and under the shades of woods, between those boles they caught the long mountain-vista, sublime beyond any thing that Emily had ever imagined.

--The Mysteries of Udolpho: A Romance Interspersed With Some Pieces of Poetry by Ann Radcliffe

Marianne, now looking dreadfully white, and unable to stand, sunk into her chair, and Elinor, expecting every moment to see her faint, tried to screen her from the observation of others, while reviving her with lavender water.
"Go to him, Elinor," she cried, as soon as she could speak, "and force him to come to me. Tell him I must see him again--must speak to him instantly.-- I cannot rest--I shall not have a moment's peace till this is explained--some dreadful misapprehension or other.-- Oh go to him this moment."

--Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

 


THAT DAY YOU CAME

Such special sweetness was about
That day God sent you here,
I knew the lavender was out,
And it was mid of year.

Their common way the great winds blew,
The ships sailed out to sea;
Yet ere that day was spent I knew
Mine own had come to me.

As after song some snatch of tune
Lurks still in grass or bough,
So, somewhat of the end o' June
Lurks in each weather now.

The young year sets the buds astir,
The old year strips the trees;
But ever in my lavender
I hear the brawling bees.

--by Lizette Woodworth Reese [1856-1935]
Philip opened a large cupboard filled with dresses and, stepping in, took as many of them as he could in his arms and buried his face in them. They smelt of the scent his mother used. Then he pulled open the drawers,filled with his mother's things, and looked at them: there were lavender bags among the linen, and their scent was fresh and pleasant. The strangeness of the room left it, and it seemed to him that his mother had just gone out for a walk. She would be in presently and would come upstairs to have nursery tea with him. And he seemed to feel her kiss on his lips.

--Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
They must. Already the men had shouldered their staves and were making for the place. Only the tall fellow was left. He bent down, pinched a sprig of lavender, put his thumb and forefinger to his nose and snuffed up the smell. When Laura saw that gesture she forgot all about the karakas in her wonder at him caring for things like that--caring for the smell of lavender. How many men that she knew would have done such a thing? Oh, how extraordinarily nice workmen were, she thought. Why couldn't she have workmen for her friends rather than the silly boys she danced with and who came to Sunday night supper? She would get on much better with men like these.

--The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield and Lorna Sage
A notably clean Englishwoman keeps this small house, and my bedroom is sweetened with lavender, has a clean sash-window, and the walls are, moreover, adorned with ballads of Fair Rosamond and Cruel Barbara Allan. The woman's accent, though uncouth enough, sounds yet kindly in my ear; for I have never yet forgotten the desolate effect produced on my infant organs, when I heard on all sides your slow and broad northern pronunciation, which was to me the tone of a foreign land. I am sensible I myself have since that time acquired Scotch in perfection, and many a Scotticism withal. Still the sound of the English accentuation comes to my ears as the tones of a friend; and even when heard from the mouth of some wandering beggar, it has seldom failed to charm forth my mite. You Scotch, who are so proud of your own nationality, must make due allowance for that of other folks.

--Redgauntlet by Sir Walter Scott
All his means of livelihood were joys to him. He had the art of perpetual happiness in this, that he could earn as much as he needed by doing the work he loved. He played at flower shows and country dances, revivals and weddings. He sold his honey, and sometimes his bees. He delighted in wreathmaking, gardening, and carpentering, and always in the background was his music - some new air to try on the gilded harp, some new chord or turn to master. The garden was almost big enough, and quite beautiful enough, for that of a mansion. In the summer white lilies haunted it, standing out in the dusk with their demure cajolery, looking, as Hazel said, like ghosses. Golden-rod foamed round the cottage, deeply embowering it, and lavender made a grey mist beside the red quarries of the path. Then Hazel sat like a queen in a regalia of flowers, eating the piece of bread and honey that made her dinner, and covering her face with lily pollen.

--Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
Charlotte had now in her hand a small bag of faded figured silk--one of those antique conveniences that speak to us, in terms of evaporated camphor and lavender, of the part they have played in some personal history; but though she had for the first time drawn the string she looked much more at the young man than at the questionable treasure it appeared to contain.
"I shall like them. They're all I have."
"All you have--?"
"That belonged to her."

--Paste by Henry James
The bunches of dried herbs, hanging from the rafters and swaying back and forth in ghostly fashion, gave out a wholesome fragrance, and when she opened trunks whose lids creaked on their rusty hinges, dried rosemary, lavender, and sweet clover filled the room with that long-stored sweetness which is the gracious handmaiden of Memory.

Miss Hathaway was a thrifty soul, but she never stored discarded clothing that might be of use to any one, and so Ruth found no moth-eaten garments of bygone pattern, but only things which seemed to be kept for the sake of their tender associations.
--Lavender And Old Lace by Myrtle Reed
It was a poor consolation, but the only one. So I made the best of it, and, taking my supper in the kitchen, went forthwith to bed. I was indeed so spent and tired that I fell asleep in the corner by the fire while my ham was being fried, and after it, was almost carried upstairs in the arms of my landlord. I had not lain in a bed since I left Leyden, and few sights, I think, have ever affected me with so pleasant a sense of rest and comfort as that of the little inn-chamber, with its white dimity curtains and lavender-scented sheets. I have, in truth, always loved the scent of lavender since.
--The Courtship of Morrice Buckler, "Chapter III Tells of an Interrupted Message" by A.E.W. Mason
Quoth the irrepressible weaver: “Dear neighbour, since you knew the Forest some time ago, could you tell me what truth there is in the rumour that in the nineteenth century the trees were all pollards?”
This was catching me on my archaeological natural-history side, and I fell into the trap without any thought of where and when I was; so I began on it, while one of the girls, the handsome one, who had been scattering little twigs of lavender and other sweet-smelling herbs about the floor, came near to listen, and stood behind me with her hand on my shoulder, in which she held some of the plant that I used to call balm: its strong sweet smell brought back to my mind my very early days in the kitchen-garden at Woodford, and the large blue plums which grew on the wall beyond the sweet-herb patch,—a connection of memories which all boys will see at once.

--News from Nowhere by William Morris
The Reverend Septimus yielded himself up quite as willing a victim to a nauseous medicinal herb-closet, also presided over by the china shepherdess, as to this glorious cupboard. To what amazing infusions of gentian, peppermint, gilliflower, sage, parsley, thyme, rue, rosemary, and dandelion, did his courageous stomach submit itself! In what wonderful wrappers, enclosing layers of dried leaves, would he swathe his rosy and contented face, if his mother suspected him of a toothache! What botanical blotches would he cheerfully stick upon his cheek, or forehead, if the dear old lady convicted him of an imperceptible pimple there! Into this herbaceous penitentiary, situated on an upper staircase-landing: a low and narrow whitewashed cell, where bunches of dried leaves hung from rusty hooks in the ceiling, and were spread out upon shelves, in company with portentous bottles: would the Reverend Septimus submissively be led, like the highly popular lamb who has so long and unresistingly been led to the slaughter, and there would he, unlike that lamb, bore nobody but himself. Not even doing that much, so that the old lady were busy and pleased, he would quietly swallow what was given him, merely taking a corrective dip of hands and face into the great bowl of dried rose-leaves, and into the other I great bowl of dried lavender, and then would go out, as confident in the sweetening powers of Cloisterham Weir and a wholesome mind, as Lady Macbeth was hopeless of those of all the seas that roll.
--The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
He conducted the two animals to a long room that seemed half bedchamber and half loft. The Badger's winter stores, which indeed were visible everywhere, took up half the room--piles of apples, turnips, and potatoes, baskets full of nuts, and jars of honey; but the two little white beds on the remainder of the floor looked soft and inviting, and the linen on them, though coarse, was clean and smelt beautifully of lavender; and the Mole and the Water Rat, shaking off their garments in some thirty seconds, tumbled in between the sheets in great joy and contentment.
--The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Lavender Memories Perfume
The bunches of dried herbs, hanging from the rafters and swaying back and forth in ghostly fashion, gave out a wholesome fragrance, and when she opened trunks whose lids creaked on their rusty hinges, dried rosemary, lavender, and sweet clover filled the room with that long-stored sweetness which is the gracious handmaiden of Memory.
--Lavender and Old Lace, Myrtle Reed, 1874-1911

The scent of Lavender is often associated with some of life's most simple precious memories. Its sweet, clean, herbaceous bouquet penetrates straight to the heart and opens open lovely vistas on the past. This is what I have tried to capture in Lavender Memories perfume. Essential oil and absolute of lavender blended together give a more complete olfactory profile of this gentle botanical treasure.  Its ethereal nature is boosted with a touch of rose otto, and is depth is strengthened with the addition of fir balsam absolute.

 

Lavender Memories Perfume


1 ounce Lavender Absolute
1/2 ounce Clary Sage EO
1/2 ounce Fir Balsam Absolute
1 ounce Lavender Fine Population EO
1 ounce Lavender Mailette EO
1 ounce Lavender Kashmir
3/4 ounce Bergamot
1/4 ounce Clove Bud Absolute
3/4 ounce Rosemary Verbenone
1/8 ounce Rose Otto

There then shall we go along the grass paths whereby the pinks and the cloves and the lavender are sending forth their fragrance, to cheer us, who faint at the scent of the over-worn roses, and the honey-sweetness of the lilies.
--The Roots of the Mountains by William Morris

This cloud floated over a lady's hand, and was in fact a delicate handkerchief. I took it, and brought it to my eyes, which gratefully acknowledged the comfort. And the scent of the lavender-not lavender water, but the lavender itself, that puts you in mind of country churches, and old bibles, and dusky low-ceiled parlours on Sunday afternoons-the scent of the lavender was so pure and sweet, and lovely! It gave me courage.
--Adela Cathcart by George MacDonald

The old quiet, the old comfort of home. Not a sound but that of pattering rain in the still night. As always, the room smelt of lavender, blended with that indescribable fragrance which comes of extreme cleanliness in an old country house.
--Will Warburton by George Gissing