My friend LG is a gardener (and an actress and a birder and a knitter as well as many other wonderful things, too numerous to mention.) She told me that her lavender crop exceeded her ability to utilize, and I was free to go over to her house and harvest. (She works full time. I'm part-time) So I loaded up several bags and my kitchen shears and a ball-winder which I had found at a garage sale for $1 and knew she could use, and headed out to her house. I took a wrong turn somewhere, and wound up bushwhacking all over the neighborhood. I could SWEAR I knew just where her home was, and I knew I would recognize it if I saw it, and it was a nice neighborhood to cruise around in, almost traffic free and delightfully quirky. But after I passed the same two ladies chatting on the side walk for the third time, and they gave me a gravely suspicious look, I gave up and called LG at work, admitting my folly and confusion and asking for her street address. I was just a few blocks off, and she was SO kind and gracious!
So I parked right in front of her house, put the ballwinder on the porch, and proceeded to pillage. She has at least three different kinds of lavender. It was the hottest day of the year. The air was swooning with the humid fragrance of a well tended garden, and the lavender was a hubub of bees. I descended on the bushes bordering the public sidewalk, and began trimming them back, stuffing handfulls of aromatic treasure in the sacks. I trimmed, and sweated, and trimmed, and sweated.
The neighbor from across the street came over. I introduced myself right away and told here that LG had told me it was OK to harvest her lavender. Looking over the bounty, she agreed that it was probably ok, seeing as how I knew LG and her husband and their dog. Then the neighbor mentioned that she had an overabundance of garlics, and would I like some? I took two huge bulbs of elephant garlic with profuse thanks.
Then I continued to trim and sweat. Suddenly the bag I was stuffing began to rattle and vibrate. WTF? One of the trusses of flowers I had clipped had carried a bee along with it. Oh, my, she was annoyed with me! When you have had the dirty look from a pair of those compound eyes, you know you have been glared at as thouroughly as ever in your life! She kicked all her legs in disdain, then fluttered her wings and flew off.
Did this teach me to be more careful with my gathering? Did I heed this gentle warning? Need you ask? I was half-way through the fourth bush when I felt a prick, then a stinging, burning sensation in my left hand. Ah-yup. I looked at the barbered bushes, then at the overflowing bags in my car, then considered the growing heat of the day, and decided this was nature's way of telling me not to be so damn greedy.
Upon returning home, I sprayed Benedryl on the sting, then set up the drying racks, spread tablecloths across them, and spread the bounty out to dry. One hundred and six degrees dried things out quite quickly, and I am ready, today, to scrub the buds off the stems.
LG asked what this scrubbing process is. I just grab a handfull of blossom heads, and scrub them between my palms over the collecting container. If the flowers are really dry, almost all the buds come loose and shower down. then I scrape the very last blooms off with my thumbnail, stack the bare stems neatly, and grab another handful of blossoms. How do you do this? And did I commit a faux pas? Should I have picked the lavender stem by stem, rather than whacking off great handfulls of greenery with the scissors?
And who wants potpourri for Christmas? Rose petals and lavender, rosemary and who knows what else I'll come up with.