It’s a great time of year to fall in love with lavender

This purple flower is more than a pretty bloom.

The fragrant herb lavender does it all: freshens closets, flavors foods, soothes nerves and spices up the bedroom. It’s a potion for little old ladies and ice cream junkies.

Now is the time to get your purple haze on. The Sequim Lavender Festival on July 18, 19 and 20 has three days of farm tours, cooking demos, products, plants and everything lavender.

Snohomish County is no Sequim, but lavender grows well here and local nurseries sell varieties not found at big box garden stores. Options come with names such as Violet Intrigue, Sweet Romance and Phenomenal.

Which is the best?

“I always urge people to pinch and sniff to see what they like,” said Kip Litehiser, edibles expert at The Plant Farm at Smokey Point.

Go ahead, take a bite. It’s a member of the mint family.

Lazy gardeners, this bud is for you.

“It’s easy maintenance. It is the plant that loves to be neglected,” said Plant Farm employee Jessie Dionne. “It’s lovely because it blooms all summer long and keeps its foliage all winter.”

Dionne said people like the good memories it evokes. “Like their childhood with their grandparents playing with them.”

Lavender’s role in medicine and mythology dates back centuries. It was used for mummification, to ward off evil and protect against the plague.

These days, it has plenty of fun uses.

The syrup is a popular flavoring for coffees to cocktails. Snoqualmie Ice Cream in Maltby scoops up a gourmet French Lavender ice cream. The lavender is grown on the farm, dried and steeped in hot cream to infuse the flavor.

And, ladies, don’t forget to put those lavender sachets in your drawers. Spray it on the sheets. It’s known as the “herb of love” for a reason.

Lavender is a libido booster, says Helen Yoest, author of “Plants with Benefits. An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers &Veggies in Your Garden.” According to Yoest, the sultry smell was Cleopatra’s secret weapon to seduce powerful men and that modern-day scientists have proven in lab tests the scent of lavender increases blood flow for men.

So, indulge in the purple. You decide how.

Andrea Brown; 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com

The 18th annual Sequim Lavender Festival celebrates the Olympic Peninsula’s purple fields majesty with everything lavender on July 18 through 20 in Sequim. The street fair in downtown Sequim has close to 150 lavender booths, food, wine and music. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 18 and 19 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 20. Farm tours are hosted by Sequim Lavender Farm Faire and Sequim Lavender Festival. For more information, go to www.sequimlavender.org and www.lavenderfestival.com.

  • ¾–1 cup tequila
  • 1/3–½ cup blue curacao or other orange flavor liqueur
  • ¾–1 cup canned coconut milk
  • ¼–1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1½–2 cups frozen unsweetened raspberries
  • 1½–2 cups frozen unsweetened blueberries
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon lavender

In a blender, combine the tequila, curacao, coconut milk and lime juice. Cover and turn to high speed, then gradually add berries and ice. Whirl until smooth and slushy. Pour into glasses. You can rub glass rims with lime and dip the rim in lavender sugar or salt. Add a lavender sprig for garnish.

Source: Sunset Magazine

1. Cut a bundle of lavender. Leave a few inches of green growth on the plant. Don’t go down to the woody portion of the stem. When you have enough blossoms to fill your hand, wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the bundle, straighten a paperclip and use it as a hook to hang the lavender bundle upside-down in a dry, dark place.

2. Let the lavender dry for about a week until there is no moisture on the stems in the center. Use it for dried floral bouquets, sachets, crafts, wedding favors and cooking. After about a year of being exposed to sunlight, the lavender color will fade. Turn the flowers into a sachet and pick another bouquet to replace it.

Source: Purple Haze Lavender Farm

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