So yesterday, on the 4th of July, I decided to take advantage of my 3-day weekend and decided to finally address the Serengeti-esque growth overtaking our driveway/front yard. First, you need to understand that we live in the dry, arid mountains of Colorado. Sure, we get our share of snow (though the past two years have been paltry and worrisome of major droughts and pending forest fires), but we rarely get rain in the summer with exception of the random thunderstorms that drop a mean dose of hail in a 5 minute window of time and leaves as abruptly as it started. This year, however, we have enjoyed overcast days, lots of rain and subsequent growth of EVERYTHING. This makes weeding a bitch! Hence, I decided that this day would be as good as any to weed the strip of land to the side of our driveway and to plant some more lavender.
Now, let me take a moment to tell you about my love of lavender. I’ve known people to either love or hate lavender…clearly I’m on the side of love. I love the dreamy smell, colors, taste and medicinal qualities. Last year I read “The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming” by Jeannie Ralston http://www.jeannieralston.com/ and fell in love…with the story, with the dream and the idea of lavender farming. I know, this sounds a bit ridiculous, but I was enraptured. I would rehash the book in my daydreams, have dreams about it at night and would spend hours researching lavender farms, lavender recipes, growth and care of lavender plants, etc. I learned that the highest elevation lavender farm anywhere in the world was at 6,500 feet and I thought that if I could pull this off, I could easily claim the highest elevation distinction at the 8,300 feet where I live. I even came up with a simple but aptly named business venture: Rocky Mountain Lavender. But first, before I continued on this crazy dream, I had to determine if lavender would even grow in this rocky, sloped, dry mountain terrain with an extreme amount of sun that often sunburns other plants. A green thumb I do not naturally have, so I knew it would be a stretch. I went to my favorite, local nursery, purchased 5 small lavender plants that were of the Munstead variety which I had researched and learned that they are the best suited to survive high altitude conditions, planted them on the side of my very steep and sun-drenched driveway and crossed my fingers. Lucky for me, lavender thrives in the exact conditions where I live and thankfully do not like to be fussed over (which is important for me as I tend to get all excited in a project, spend time on it, then, like a shiny object to a squirrel, chase another idea often never finishing or maintaining my first project). In two months time, I finally harvested my first few bunches of lovely, aromatic lavender bunches, made lavender lemonade and fell in love all over again with my dream of farming it one day.
However, the true test would be whether those small plants would survive our harsh winters. This spring (which up here really doesn’t begin until June), as the rain lended to tall weeds and blades of ornamental, albeit unorganized, blades of grass, I remembered a rule of growing lavender – it does not like to be crowded out and great care must be given to ensure that it has plenty of space and is not fighting for resources. Sure enough, the weeds had pervaded the ground to the extent that I couldn’t even find my poor lavender plants. Alas, after much forraging I found my plants and was elated to discover that 4 out of the 5 had little bits of green growth! I cleared the pesky weeds around my plants allowing for plenty of sun to reach them and knew that the daily rains, albeit brief, would be enough to keep them hydrated though not soggy.
A couple weeks ago when I approached my supportive, though realistic, husband David about planting some more, he made me make him a deal in his attempt to avoid my past grievances in gardening. You see, I often get so excited when I’m in a nursery that I pick up WAY more plants that I can reasonably plant that day or within a week and all too often, my lovely plants have met their fate in the very same plastic bucket in which they were sold to me and it pains both of us to see a $20 plant sitting dead in that bucket – a waste of money and a perfectly good plant. And all too often the business of life hijacks my dreamed up plans (can you see the patterns of the ADD I mentioned in my first blog!). As such, David said I could buy as many lavender plants as I could dig holes for (in advance) so that all I would have to do is pop the plant into the ground, fill in with soil and voila, no wasted plants. Deal! And I did just that, dug my holes and waited for the right time to pick up my plants. And so back to the 4th of July. We got up early, headed over to my nursery and was overcome with disappointment when the manager of the place warned us that their would be a limit of 4 lavender plants, per customer, per SEASON because of the high demand! What the ?!!! So, I purchased two small ones, and two large ones in full bloom already and begrudgingly made my way over to Home Depot to find more. When I arrived, my disappointment grew with fervor when I learned that they had sold out due to demand. “Well, if this isn’t my sign that I need to be lavender farming if the demand is so high around here and no one has any…” I said to David to which he gave a hearty head shake. “If only I had the capital to start it up!” I murmured.
On the ride back, David countered my grandiose, though crazy idea, to purchase land nearby where customers could pick their own lavender, picnic in full range of the mountains and shop all my lavender homemade goods with the idea of growing lavender on our 1 acre plot of land. I shot him a “have you seen the slope of our backyard?” look as we began to talk about the logistics. It would be tough and would not lend itself to visits by the public, but perhaps a good start. Of course, this would all have to happen after I leave my corporate job – I am on the road, afterall, 75-100% of the time and for the rest of the summer, I’ll be gone Mon-Fri, only home on the weekends. *sigh* A girl can still dream.
Nonetheless, we began our weedscaping adventure and spent a good 4 hours getting down to earth, planting our new lavender plants and building a rock wall. And in true spirit of the mountain folk that have lived here for generations, them yahoos shot off their shotguns and pistols in lieu of fireworks. “Pop…pop, pop” we’d hear in the distance as we shook our heads and rolled our eyes. Damn country folk we muttered aloud. Lest we admit that we were about to be full-time country folk in the future.
Unfortunately we didn’t finish the whole strip of land, a major undertaking, but made great progress. We’re hoping to xeriscape the area with natural, drought-resistant plants and rocks in lieu of mulch. Pictures below show before and after pics!
Sans weeds...still to be xeriscaped, but ya get the idea...Oy - my back is killing me!
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