Sharp's Crossing Lavender Farm a fragrant destination
I haven’t had any success growing lavender in my low-sun yard in Urbana. Even when I start with plants.
So I was pleased to read in The News-Gazette three years ago that Jan Meier had started on her family property along U.S. 45 north of Urbana Sharp’s Crossing Lavender Farm. (www.sharpscrossinglavender.com/)
It’s not Provence but the flatland lavender farm is the next best thing, and not as far or hard to get to!
Meier has U-pick weekends there. Sunday (June 30) was the last U-pick day this season.
I went mid-afternoon and waded through the taller, more established plants — it takes three years for them to become fully established. Bees were feeding on the blossoms but none stung me.
For $6, I took home a huge bouquet of two different kinds of lavender. That evening I set the lavender next to me as I watched TCM, at times shredding the tiny purple petals so I could better breathe in the lovely fragrance.
I plan to eventually cook or bake with the pinkish Melissa variety; Meier told me to allow it to dry for a couple of weeks before I use it.
I also traveled to Sharp’s Crossing a week ago today to take a lavender-wreath making workshop. What a pleasant way to spend an hour or so.
For $40, Meier supplied the 12-inch metal wreath frames, green floral wire and freshly harvested Royal Velvet lavender. Loads of it.
She told us to start at the knobby place on the frame and wrap the wire around it and then a bunch of lavender. The bouquets had to be wide enough to hide the wire frame, and each bunch was placed to hide the stems on the bunch above it.
Altogether, we each used about 12 bouquets of the deeply purple Royal Velvet variety to fill the frame.
Once you got the hang of it, it wasn’t difficult. But it took me more than an hour to finish.
Of course, there’s always a student in class who gets done way ahead of everyone else. In this workshop that was Tina Navarro, who owns Life Blends in Ottawa, Ill. She and a friend traveled down here just for the lavender.
I didn’t hold a grudge against her, though, after she told me she has taught classes in California about essential oils and once worked at putting together potpourri.
And Navarro has her own business, Life Blends. www.facebook.com/lifeblendsbytina/. She makes from natural ingredients and essential oils custom-blended soaps, body butters, hand/body sugar scrubs and other items.
Meier, who lives in Minnesota and makes the 825-mile trip here during lavender season, also sells lavender-products; her shop is inside the big white barn on her family property.
Alas, Sharp’s Crossing is now closed for the season, which came a little earlier this year. I’ll be back there next summer, for sure.
Meanwhile, my house sure smells good!.