We often travel miles away although we can find what we are looking for right in our own backyard, if only we knew exactly where to look. The sight of lavender fields in full bloom is a sight to behold, not to mention to smell. Visiting the lavender fields of Provence, France, especially the fields near Gordes, is on many a lavender lovers’ list – miles and miles of purple blankets stretching as far as the eye can see, buzzing with bees intoxicated by the sweet smelling blooms. One can be treated to a mini-Provencal experience right here in Texas, just an hours’ drive away at Lavender Ridge Farms.
Lavender is a flowering plant in the mint family. It is cultivated extensively in temperate climates as an ornamental plant for garden and landscape use, and also commercially for the extraction of essential oils. Due to its beloved fragrance and the beautiful purple color of its flowers, lavender fields are a popular destination for photographers.
Lavender Ridge Farms is located eight miles east of Gainesville, Texas. It is a beautiful one-hour drive through the countryside with views of farms and open skies that we Texans love. Originally a strawberry and melon farm in the 1920s and 30s, Lavender Ridge Farms opened in 2006 as a lavender, flower and herb farm. Run by siblings Jerry Ware and Jane Dane, the land here has been in the family for over 150 years and will be for many years to come.
Lavender Ridge is a working farm and garden. It currently has two acres of lavender planted, and more lavender, herbs, scented geraniums and cut-flowers are being added all the time. Of course, it is smaller compared to the more expansive fields of Provence but definitely has a rustic Texan charm to it.
Apart from the lavender, the farm also has a variety of perennials and plenty of visiting birds. Be sure to watch the hummingbirds as they drink from the feeders. The grounds have hammocks, cozy corners and garden art – they even have a “chairy” tree. When my family visited we saw chickens in the coop, some lemurs and a watchdog named Georgia.
The little gift shop is stocked with everything lavender from scented oils, handmade herbal soaps and cute knick knacks with lavender prints. The café is delightful; you can stop by for a lavender-inspired lunch inside the screened-in patio nestled among the tall shady oaks overlooking the lavender field. It makes for a perfect setting to enjoy the tasty lavender treats. We loved the lavender cheesecake and lavender lemonade. Jane makes these delicious goodies right there in her kitchen with the purple door. And they teach cooking classes – with lavender, of course!
Jerry, who is busy tending to the farm, mentioned that the lavender blooms around the end of May through early to mid-July, during which time the lavender and other flowers like iris and zinnia will be available for picking.
Lavender Ridge Farms hosts an annual Lavender Festival with wine tasting, antiques and art, and of course, lavender products. You can also buy little lavender plants to bring home to your garden or patio. About 50 vendors set up shop under the shade of the oak trees. Rain or shine, the 9th annual festival will be held Memorial Day weekend, May 27–29, 2017.
Plan a picnic and snap a picture at the Lavender Ridge Farms, and fool your friends into thinking you took a getaway to Provence!