Lavender is recognised as a drought tolerant plant that grows in a variety of regions around the world, including Spain, France, and Northern Africa. Lavenders generally like well-drained soil and can cope with hot conditions, but don’t like humid temperatures. This makes Geraldton an ideal location for a lavender farm. Lavender is also relatively pest free, making maintenance easy to manage, even when kangaroos dig the plants up!
Lavender brings to mind fields of purple flowers and a romantic lifestyle. Establishing ourselves as the only lavender farm in Geraldton, we saw an opportunity to create a diverse and enjoyable experience for both ourselves and others.
What types of lavender do we grow?
In our first year of planting we started trial planting five varieties of each of the two main oil producing cultivars of lavender. As with any trial situation we wanted to find which particular varieties are best suited to our climate conditions.
After a few years, we have decided to predominantly plant Lavandula intermedia “Miss Donnington”, commonly known as a French lavender. This variety has silvery grey leaves with a small camphor content, suited to producing a good quality essential oil or dried flower heads for cooking or product making.
As our oil producing varieties flower later in the year, during November and December, we wanted to ensure that there were other varieties in flower all year round for visitors to appreciate.
Surrounding the intermedias, are a few rows of lavandula dentata and stocheas cultivars. These flower in a variety of colour from yellow and white to pale pink and deep burgundy from April to November. We have over twenty different varieties growing.
From our initial plantings we have tried to refine our choice of varieties with the cultivars that best suit the Geraldton climate.
How is lavender grown?
Our first step is
to run an inline drip tube along the row, approximately 50 metres in length. A biodegradable weed mat approximately 1 metre wide is laid over the top of the irrigation, and then mulch is placed over the top.
The aim of these efforts is to minimise the amount of evaporation during the height of summer when temperatures can reach 45°C.
Once the runs are prepared, it is time to cut through the weed mat to allow each plant to be put in its spot. Next, we crawl along with good knee pads and plant the seedlings. Each plant is spaced a specific distance to ensure that when fully grown and in flower it will form a hedge.
Our plants cope well with the seasonal conditions that they have to endure, and we are very pleased with our efforts. Come and see for yourself!
To date, our lavender has been harvested for dried flowers. Most of this has been done by hand with an old-fashioned sickle, however we intend to refashion a small plot harvester into a lavender harvester.
Flowers once harvested can either be hung up to dry in bunches or distilled to create lavender oil.