Delicious Lavender!

I have been deadheading this past week. All the poppies and iris are gone for another year, but the roses are still blooming their hearts out and there is lavender everywhere.

About 5 years ago I started four different kinds of lavender from seed. I nursed the seedlings along and potted them up to larger pots as they grew. Some of them had blooms by the end of the summer and all of them bloomed the following year. I gave away dozens of plants and ultimately planted about 3 dozen lavender  in my own gardens. Until this year, they all thrived.

I don’t know if I moved them too late in the fall or if the winter was so mild that they tried to grow and froze instead. All I know is that this past winter I lost about 7 full grown plants in the beds in front of the barn.  I have started some seeds (and bought a few plants) to try to fill in – even though I doubt that anyone else looks at those beds and sees that they are missing.

All of the other lavenders in the perennial beds came through the winter just fine and right now they are all blooming profusely. Many of them are now shrub sized and just cloaked in purples. Some are so light they are almost white, while others are deep, dark royal purple. The bees love them all and I have to be careful when I go out to cut stems and gather buds and blossoms.

These buds are just bursting open – and usually covered in bees!

I have already dried some buds and flowers to use for baking. I love the flavor and scent that dried lavender gives to sugar cookies, scones and simple pound cakes. It is also delicious in lemonade and ice cream. Smells good enough to eat – and I do!

More typically, I dry the buds and flowers to make a variety of sachets. The simplest are the ones I use in the clothes dryer. Melitta (the coffee pot/filter company) makes Tea Filters. These are little unbleached paper filter bags that measure about 3×5″. The last time I bought them, I paid $2.99 for a box of 40. (https://shoponline.melitta.com/items/FILTPAPERTEA)

I gave these as gifts one year and tied each bundle of sachets together with pretty ribbon, topped with a ribbon flower.

The filter bags are closed on three sides. I just fill them with lavender blossoms, machine stitch the end closed and toss one into the dryer with each load. They add a lovely scent to delicates and linens. You can tell when it is time to stop using them in the dryer because the paper starts looking awfully thin. I use each one for about ten loads of laundry and then I retire them  to a lingerie drawer or a shelf in the linen closet because there is still perfume left in them!

I must have a thing for filter papers because I also use round coffee filters to make sachets. I just iron two of them flat then join about 90% of the circumference with a fusible like Stitch Witchery or Steam-Seam (available at most fabric stores or on line). Then I fill with lavender, fuse the opening closed  and machine stitch around the whole thing. My machine has embroidery stitches built in and I like the way they look as an edging on the sachets. I sometimes use fancy scissors to trim off the pleated edges of the filters.

Two paper coffee filters have been fused together to form a pouch to fill with lavender blossoms.

After fusing the opening closed, I machine stitch the edge of the sachet for a permanent closure. Built-in embroidery stitches make this as decorative as it is easy.

For gift giving last year, I did some fancy powder puffs that I filled with lavender. I bought the biggest bath-powder puffs I could find and added a circle of fabric on top of the puff, filling it first with the lavender. Then I topped the whole thing with interesting fabrics that I embellished with some beadwork, ribbons and embroidery. I don’t think anyone has actually used them for powder – they tend to be dresser ornaments because they just look too pretty to use!

There are actually two separate powder puffs in this picture so you are seeing the front of one and the back of the other. I try to find interesting prints that have details I can bead. The one in front was edged with peach colored Austrian crystals, while the one below has a simple ribbon ruffle.

About Susan Guagliumi

I am an author, craftsperson and a gardener. My proposal for a book tentatively titled "The Artful Gardener" was just accepted by Stewart, Tibori and Chang Publishers. Although this will be my fifth book, it is the first outside the area of hand/machine knitting. The manuscript is due early in 2013 and the book is scheduled for Spring of 2014. A somewhat longer process than giving birth to a child, embarking on an author's journey can be just as daunting, exciting and almost as fulfilling.
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