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Lavender Wand Harvest Time

Updated: Mar 21

The most stressful time of the year for me is when lavender harvest time comes around. Harvesting lavender in late August should be a relatively simple thing, but the basic requirement of very dry plants sometimes doesn't happen when the flowers are at their optimum picking time.

I only start harvesting after the bees have taken all the pollen they need. There is a very narrow window from this point before the flowers start turning brown and falling off. If at this time it is also damp and rainy then there is a chance the harvest could be ruined. Considering 50% of my Stuff relies on fresh, dried lavender, I will be lost with a poor year. Harvesting when the stalks are damp will cause rot which can spread throughout the whole of the drying shed. As I write this blog there are rain showers and thunderstorms

expected all weekend, so yesterday I was sneaky and picked 70% from each of my lavender bushes which is a great start. These stems were still in flower which means I can develop my lavender wands even further this season.
I have eight different sorts of lavender in my garden and this year my hand has been forced a little to harvest quite early as the weather is being so unpredictable with lots of rain showers. However it has given me a fabulous new idea for my lavender wands. The first wands in 2019 were all made with just one sort of lavender. The stalks were very, very long as the weather had been so wet, much like this year. In 2020 the lavender was shorter, but the blooms were fabulously full. It was also the year I had to take on more gardens in the surrounding villages which added to the variety of lavender I had. There was one strain of lavender that had kept a rich, deep purple colour after drying and so I used a few stems in each wand as a colour accent. They looked wonderful which is why this year I have decided to add a multitude of different varieties and colours to each wand.

Having looked at how all other lavender wands were being made I noticed that most crafters hid the lavender away and none of the plant was really visible. I designed my wands, (or sceptres as I described them because they are so long), so all of the lavender could be seen. With the flowers neatly enclosed in organza and the stalks making a thick, 'broom handle' thickness, they are really strong with great longevity.
Due to the popularity of these wands I have been in contact with a local

gardener. He is going to take me to jobs where there is long-stem lavender to cut down. I should be able to treble the usual amount of wands I can make, each with a mixture of different varieties.

Recently a lady got in touch with me after buying one of my lavender things. She complimented me on the quality of the lavender and asked if I sold it loose. It was something I hadn't considered but as she explained about her medicines and balms I offered to collect some extra this harvest which I would dry and ship to her. This got me thinking about my lavender as I'd not considered it's high quality. I am very strict when picking the stems and stick to a very strict schedule which may be the reason the lavender is so good:
I only harvest after 3 dry days
I wait for the bees to do their thing
Once picked the stems are in the drying shed within 4 hours, so I can only harvest in 3-hour sessions
I NEVER touch the flower heads
I only harvest before the sun heats the oils in the flowers
I snip each stem individually, one stalk at a time

Another thing I am going to do this season is buy cardboard to make boxes that are made to measure for the wands. I have been recycling boxes from Lidl's but with selling so many wands I cannot rely on an unsustainable box supply. In reality, it is the same principle I have employed for all of my Stuff. Up until an item sells well, I just pack it in any suitable box. Once the item is performing well I then buy or make boxes that fit the item perfectly. It is so important to pack items well and I firmly believe the packed items should be

as exquisite as the item itself.
By late October into November, this season's lavender will be ready to use. Each wand is hand-dressed with each stalk individually laid. Once the stalks combined are the same thickness as a broom handle I wrap delicate but strong jute twine macramé which neatly holds the stalks in place. It is sewn in a neat seam down the back before I use 3mm jute twine to simply bind over the join between the organza and decorative twine.

As a little decorative feature I add a beautiful Picasso Jasper bead held by a simple 1 mm jute twine bow. To make all of the knots very secure I dab a bit of diluted PVA glue just before I pull the knot tight. This means the glue is actually in the knot and sets firmly glued together. Once the twine excess tails are cut off, the knots are virtually invisible and 100% secure.

Below is a video showing my husbunny harvesting the lavender from our front garden. Notice dead or damaged stems are not chosen, and new shoots are left to become full blooms.

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