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When I originally started to blog, my intention was to take notice of things in my own garden, and to occasionally feature gardens I had toured. I’ve since found out that it’s more fun to write about gardens I’ve been lucky enough to visit. That way I can ignore the fact that my garden has gotten away on me again. You see, my garden is fairly new and when I planted it, I made the mistake of wanting it to look established right away. I’m not the most patient person. So I filled it up and didn’t leave much space for things to spread out. I also planted trees. Granted, they were small trees. They had to fit into my van (or once, into my friend Sue’s husband Lionel’s big pick up truck). I had to be able to lift them myself, or be able to coerce my husband or teenaged sons to help lift them from the vehicle to the wheelbarrow, and then to place them into holes that my husband would kindly dig for me. Now, I know that trees get bigger, but really, it’s supposed to take a while. I figured by the time they got big enough to be a problem, I would be eighty years old and living in a mini storage unit, where apparently my son Ben is putting me when I’m ready for an old folk’s home. Anyway, all that’s a story for another day.
Today I want to tell you about my favorite thing in my garden. Lavender. You see, we have a sliding door right near our kitchen table, and we sit up at the table in the morning and we can look out into the garden. And it’s right here that there is the most beautiful patch of lavender. Unfortunately, I can’t remember which type of lavender it is, but it’s not like the other lavender I have in my garden. This lavender grows very tall and the flower is long and elegant and a pretty mid-purple tone. There are times when it is so loaded with the big fat honey bees that I love that you can hear buzzing from the kitchen table if the door’s open. When a breeze blows or the sprinkler or rain falls on it, the scent steals into the kitchen. I love this stuff. My eyes zoom in on this little vignette, and I feel at peace.
In search of more lavender, last summer I went on a road trip with my aforementioned friend Sue. We often zip down to Seattle, but on this occasion we deked a little further west and made for the Dungeness Valley, which is located on the northwest coast of Washington State. It’s a very scenic drive from Vancouver, B.C. There’s even a little ferry ride from Coupeville to Port Townsend.
It’s here in this valley that you can find the little town of Sequim (pronounced Skwim), which just so happens to be the lavender capital of North America. Sequim is in the rain shadow of the majestic Olympic Mountains, and averages less than 15 inches of rain a year. (When you consider that everyone else in the Pacific Northwest has webbed toes, this is amazing!) Lavender loves this dry climate, but beware! Sometimes fogs and cool breezes blow in from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We discovered this on our return ferry ride, where, when we left the dock it was sunny and warm, and when we got out on the water we suddenly couldn’t see a damn thing. We could only hear that haunting fog horn and see the mist creep around us. Eerie.
Sequim hosts a lavender festival every July, but even though we made the trip in August, the farms were open to visit, and the lavender still looked great. I guess the weather can affect the timing of the crops. Most farms have gift shops where you can buy all things lavender. I personally recommend the lavender lemonade, although the lavender ice cream was tempting too!
As you might imagine, where they grow lavender, they can also grow sunflowers. A few of the farms had some fields of these beauties as well. Every year I plan to try some in my garden, but I haven’t actually managed it yet. Next year!
In addition to the farms, there a lot of other fun things to see and do in this neck of the woods. There’s golf, kayaking, hiking and of course, shopping! Although we didn’t stop there on this trip, the town of Port Townsend looked intriguing with all the historic homes and interesting businesses. Further south from Sequim is Port Angeles, where we spent a lovely afternoon exploring antique stores and checking out quaint shops and restaurants.
The downturn in the economy has certainly affected these areas, but there’s still more than enough to do to make a trip worthwhile. Fiddleheads on 1st Street in Port Angeles was a particularly good find.
We visited The Three Crabs in Sequim, where you feel like you’ve gone back in time into a diner that hasn’t changed much in 40 years. The food was okay, but the ambiance and the sunset on the beach more than made up for any lack of pretension inside.
I started this post quite some time ago, but on one of my haunts of garden nurseries this past weekend, I found a big pot of the kind of lavender that’s in my backyard. Now I know what type it is. It’s “Provence”. But you don’t need to go nearly that far to experience the loveliness of lavender.