Lavender wand making classes

at Stargazers Vineyard and Winery

Lavender wands

Saturday June 29th 2013, 1pm

Thursday July 4th 2013, 5pm

Saturday July 6th 2013, 1pm

$5 per wand
Proceeds to benefit Waggies by Maggie and Friends

(a non-profit dog treat company whose mission is to employ persons with intellectual disabilities, www.waggies.org)

new_waggies_top_mockup_smallerLavender wands have been used for centuries as a decorative way to carry the scent of lavender. They can be hung near windows where the breeze will carry the aroma throughout a room and help repel insects.  They can be placed between linens to impart their sleep-inducing scent or hung on chairs, lamps, door knobs or bedsteads.

We will provide our own fresh cut lavender from our field, ribbon and full instruction to weave a beautiful wand!
Wine and cheese will be available for purchase.

Come spend a relaxing afternoon to learn an ancient craft, sip some wine, stroll through the lavender garden and vineyard and listen to the tweeting birds!
To pre-register please e-mail fatspikelavender@gmail.com

If you are interested in scheduling a private group class please contact us via e-mail. We will be happy to schedule the class for your group on another day or evening.
Also at Stargazers Vineyard on July 4th, Moonlight Catering will be offering a BBQ picnic platter for $20 from 4 to 7 pm with Nick Doak providing musical background on acoustic guitar.
To reserve your platter please e-mail stargazers@kennett.net

Lavender gift baskets

We’ve been busy making lots of new and exciting gifts ready for Christmas.

Here’s a sample of gift baskets we’ve put together for the first Saturday event at Stargazers Vineyard and Winery this weekend.

Mini basket: $20
Lavender essential oil 10ml
16 things to do with lavender essential oil
Lavender sachet (handmade made using repurposed fabrics, filled with 100% premium grade lavender buds)

Travel Set: $33
Lavender essential oil 10ml
16 things to do with lavender essential oil
Lavender hand and body cream (aloe & shea butter) 1oz
Hand stenciled foamer bottle containing lavender body wash (aloe & castille) 1.5oz
Lavender hand and body wash concentrate (aloe & castille) 2 oz
Lavender body/room spray 2 oz
Lavender sachet (handmade made using repurposed fabrics, filled with 100% premium grade lavender buds)

Relaxation Kit with Love: $60
Lavender essential oil 10ml
16 things to do with lavender essential oil
Lavender stress reliever (handmade squishable heart made using repurposed fabrics, filled with 100% premium grade lavender buds and organic flaxseed)
Lavender and organic flaxseed pillow (great as a soothing eye pillow) 9”x5”
Lavender and organic buckwheat hulls pillow (great as a soothing back or neck support) 12”x11”
Lavender reed diffuser oil 2oz
Glass reed diffuser bottle
5 bamboo reeds

Bath & Body Full Monty: $65
Lavender essential oil 10ml
16 things to do with lavender essential oil
Lavender hand and body cream (aloe & shea butter) 4oz
Hand stenciled foamer bottle containing lavender body wash (aloe & castille) 7.5oz
Lavender hand and body wash concentrate (aloe & castille) 8 oz
Lavender sachet (handmade made using repurposed fabrics, filled with 100% premium grade lavender buds)
Lavender beeswax candle
Lavender reed diffuser oil 2oz
Glass reed diffuser bottle
5 bamboo reeds

Lavender in bloom at Stargazers Vineyard and Winery

It’s been a year since we planted our small patch of lavender at Stargazers Vineyard and Winery and even though not many of the 700+ plants planted last year survived due to a catalog of disasters, e.g. plants arriving early, a brutally hot dry summer, weed matting issues, etc.,etc, what did survive is blooming beautifully!

This is a photo of our English culinary lavender, Folgate.

English lavender - 1

This is another of our English culinary lavenders, Melissa.

English Lavender - 2

English lavender blooms early, mid to late May, and has the advantage of blooming again later in the year if it is pruned after its first flowering.

This is the view from Stargazers tasting room of the 1-year old Grosso (a.k.a. fat spike)

Grosso

As so many plants didn’t make it through the winter we rearranged the plants so that we’d have complete rows of the 1-year old plants, where possible. We were then able to till complete rows and mound the soil, to help with drainage, before planting the new plants. We decided on 200 Grosso and 200 Hidcote Blue.

The new plants have been propagated and raised in PA at Carousel Lavender Farm and so should thrive here at Stargazers.

Grosso & Hidcote - 1

To celebrate the the lavender garden being in bloom we will be holding lavender wand making classes at 2pm and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday (2nd & 3rd July) at Stargazers in the tasting room. The cost of each class will be $5 and include fresh cut lavender and ribbon. Wine tastings will also be available, $5 for 5 samples, but you may want to try making a wand first :)

Lavender wands

16 things to do with lavender essential oil

Here is a list of 16 things to do with lavender essential oil.

Each “thing” has been tried and tested and all have work wonderfully for me, especially No. 14 the one for bug bites as even though I have an excellent product for preventing bug bites one must remember to spray it on otherwise it won’t work!
I put one drop of lavender oil on each bite and it temporarily reduced any inflammation and helped stop the “driving me crazy” itching which in turn allowed the bite (or scrape or sunburn, I’ve tried it on them all) to heal that little bit quicker and with much less aggravation.

(as an aside, I think the one disadvantage to my “all natural bug spray” is that it works so well for me that I forget about the bugs and hence forget to spray next time I go out, but I’m learning……slowly!)

I’ve also seen lavender essential work wonders on bee stings. A couple of years ago a fellow grape-picker was badly stung while picking grapes, he tried everything to ease the pain but nothing was working so I asked if he’d mind if I put a couple of drops of lavender oil on the sting. He agreed and within just a couple of minutes the swelling went down and the pain stopped….and I got a huge hug!

As with any essential oil use caution especially when putting directly on the skin. Lavender is one of the safest of the essential oils and can be used directly on the skin, most can not, but even so before you use for the first time test a small area of skin incase of allergic reaction.

And do not use when pregnant, which is true for all essential oils, as generally the affects are unkown.

Also included is a recipe for making lavender water/spray (details of which are now printed on the empty spray bottle I sell) see “thing” No. 7

Only a few drops of oil are required to be effective so a little bottle can last a long time and can be used for so many different “things”……

  1. Apply a few drops like a perfume to the hair, neck, ears or other body parts.
  2. Add several drops of lavender oil to a bath for a soothing soak.
  3. Place a few drops in a lamp oil ring, or other essential oil diffuser or nebulizer and the heat from the light bulb, candle, or diffuser will gradually release the lavender fragrance.
  4. Refresh sachets, lavender buds, potpourri with a drop or two of oil.
  5. Add a few drops of oil to the final rinse when washing to give fabrics a light lasting fragrance.
  6. Scent a laundry hamper by adding a few drops of oil to a paper towel and place it in the bottom of the hamper.
  7. In a spray bottle combine several drops of lavender oil with Witch Hazel or distilled water to make a cooling mist for your body or pillow or apply neat oil to your temples to relieve stress.
    Recipe:
    Mix 1/2 teaspoon (50 drops) of 100% pure lavender essential oil with 2 oz distilled water. This creates quite a strong aroma so you may want to start with fewer drops and add drops until you reach the strength of aroma that is right for you.
    Before spraying shake bottle well to mix the oil with the water.
    As a precaution test spray on a small area.
  8. Spray lavender water (see recipe above) over your body to help deter mosquitoes and ticks, dab neat essential oil on a cotton ball and place on your window sill to repel insects from entering.
  9. Add 1-2 of drops of lavender oil to facial toner or cream to help alleviate acne.  Lavender is said to  inhibit bacteria that cause skin infections and help rebalance the over-secretion of sebum.
  10. Warm a bottle of lavender oil in hot water, then gently massage a few drops into the skin around the ear to help alleviate earache.  A little olive oil can be mixed with a few drops of essential oil and used in the same way for babies and small children.
  11. Add a few drops of lavender oil to a hot foot bath to help relieve fatigue.  The soles of the feet absorb the therapeutic properties of lavender very quickly, creating a soothing effect throughout the body.
  12. Add a few drops of lavender oil to unscented massage oil for a relaxing and healing body massage.
  13. To soothe sunburn, add a few drops of lavender oil to distilled water in a spray bottle, and mist sunburned skin.
  14. Apply lavender essential oil to insect bites and stings, cuts, scrapes and abrasions. Lavender is said to be antiseptic and help destroy germs that can cause infections,  soothe itching and speed healing to help reduce scarring.
  15. Add 1-2 drops of lavender oil to a vaporizer and inhale slowly to battle sinusitis, colds, coughs and infections.
  16. Put a few drops of lavender oil on a folded, wet wash cloth, microwave for 20-45 seconds for a hot compress. Can also be used to treat headaches or sinus infections.

Lavender may also be used on dogs, as a bug spray, to help calm and relax them when going to the vet, or simply to make them smell nice, BUT use caution as dogs have a keen sense of smell and are more sensitive to essential oils so only use the best quality and always dilute, e.g. 7 drops mixed with 2 oz distilled water.

It is best to avoid using any essential oil on cats as they metabolize and excrete substances different to humans and dogs which can make some oils toxic to cats. However hydrosols (the byproduct of steam distillation of essential oils) may be used as they only contain trace elements of the essential oil but can still work wonders.

I’m sure there are many more uses for lavender oil, it’s such a versatile essential oil, it not only smells good it can do so much more.

Enjoy.

Waiting for the lavender to grow!

It’s been about a month since we finished planting the lavender and we were hoping to take it a little easier by just having to nip the buds off to help the roots develop and encourage new growth towards the base of the plant so that they don’t get too “leggy” BUT as we’ve been having August weather in June we’ve had to water more than expected! Our grass is already brown from all the hot and humid days and virtually no rain.

The lavender plants have been very brave however, the majority have endured the heat and a few “short back and sides” from me have helped them bush out quite nicely. We’ve been watering them about twice a week, giving them a good soaking and then leaving them for a few days as we don’t want to over water them but we don’t want them to dry out either.

Unfortunately we’ve lost approximately 22% of the shipment of plants from Washington state. I think the plants probably got too stressed with the week long journey, having to wait at least 2 weeks before they could get in the ground and then with the weather, it’s not been the best of conditions. I was however lucky to find Carousel Lavender Farm in Bucks County, just a 2 hour drive away, who happened to have several Grosso lavender plants in 4″ pots so I asked if 60 could be put aside for me and took a road trip. Niko, the owner/operator of Carousel could not have been nicer and his plants looked so healthy with excellent root development. He gave me some great tips and advice and let us wander around his farm which is so wonderful and relaxing.

The new plants are now in the ground and appear to be doing fine. I still have a few holes to fill, 60 wasn’t quite enough, but I’ll hopefully be able to take cuttings and propagate to fill in the gaps.

So while we wait for the lavender to grow I thought I would post some photos of my products.

I handcraft all my own products using 100% pure lavender essential oil and the best ingredients and fabrics.  In order to ensure quality, freshness and uniqueness I only create small batches of each product.  These range from lavender sachets, pillows, hand and body lotion to dog grooming gloves and dog shampoo.

Lavender pillows and sachets

This first photo is of some of my pillows, the two smaller ones are filled with organic flax (which may be heated for warm therapy), and the larger pillow is filled with organic buckwheat hulls (which provide great support) and all contain plenty of super clean lavender, the little hearts just contain lavender.  There is no fiberfill!
Covers are removable for washing and are made from various fabrics including organic cotton, bamboo and cotton, and fleece.

Lavender body products

The items to the left include lavender liquid soap in a foamer-bottle along with a bottle of concentrate which will refill the foamer-bottle several times (foamer bottles are extremely efficient and save on waste) and a crocheted organic cotton wash cloth; lavender, aloe & shea hand and body cream which is very rich and creamy and is available in 4 oz and 1 oz jars; lavender body/room/linen spray; lavender massage oil, 100% pure lavender essential oil (this comes with a leaflet on 16 things to do with the oil); culinary lavender….my all time favorite is lavender waffles with a lemon sauce and of course lavender & honey truffles which I make quite regularly and are de-lish, even if I do say so myself!

Lavender dog products

I also make several pet products.  Lavender is great for dogs as it can help deter ticks and fleas, is calming and makes a dog and their bed smell nice!
My dog products include a lavender hypoallergenic dog shampoo; a dog grooming glove containing a removable pillow filled with lavender and organic flax; a refillable, adjustable lavender dog bandana (the bandana and glove are available in blue or red).

As essential oils can be harmful to cats I make a refillable catnip toy which contains organic, unprocessed catnip, also known as kitty hooch.

And finally something for everyone, dogs and humans, an all natural bug spray containing a blend of several essential oils which biting bugs don’t like.

My products are currently available at Stargazers Winery which is open weekends 12-5pm (wine tastings also available, $5 for 5 samples), Kennett Square Farmers Market on first fridays 2-6pm on State Street and I will be at various craft fairs and shows in the area. If there’s something lavender you’d like feel free to contact me, I can ship to anywhere and can now take credit cards via PayPal on the internet.

Part 4 – Ta-daaaa!! The lavender planting is complete!

I’d like to give a great big thank you to Keith, Pam, Rebecca and my husband Gordon for helping me plant. Without you I’d still be there up to my elbows in soil and I know the plants really appreciate getting in the ground! I’d also like to thank all those who offered to help plant but weren’t able to make it.

Pam, Keith and me planting lavender

It’s taken approximately 10 days to complete the planting including “rain stop play” days and “waiting for the ground to dry out afterwards” days. One thing I’ve learned however is that Stargazers does have it’s own micro-climate as even though it may be raining heavy in Kennett Square, just a few miles away at Stargazers they won’t have had a drop!

Unfortunately I lost several plants to root rot before I even managed to plant them. There didn’t seem to be a pattern to which ones died, ones with root rot were in trays right next to plants whose soil was almost dry, so I don’t believe they were over watered. I don’t know whether it was a pot issue, i.e. some pots not draining properly, or maybe not all pots had the same soil. Fortunately I managed to save some before they completely succumbed, hopefully they’ll be happier in the ground and begin to flourish. This is why lavender requires well drained soil as they will get root rot if they sit in water. At Stargazers the soil is very “schisty” rather than “clayey” and so drains well and allows the roots to go deep.

Lavender farms plant in rows to assist harvesting, so in order to know where to dig a hole for each plant we used a 100′ length of twine with markers every 3′, chalked an X on the weed fabric and then moved the twine over 5′ to mark the next row.  A hole was cut in the weed barrier at each X using a bulb planter as a template and the soil dug out by pushing the bulb planter into the ground and pulling out a chunk of earth.  Anything lurking in or around the hole that may hinder drainage was removed, the soil loosened, and finally a little lavender plant was popped into the ground making sure the roots were snug and secure.

Finally done!

Below is a picture of me with John and Alice Weygandt, the owner/operators of Stargazers, toasting the lavender garden with a chilled glass of Stargazers’ wonderful sparkling wine.

If you like a drop of bubbly then you’ll love Stargazers sparkling wine and if you don’t like bubbly you should try Stargazers sparkling wine as you may be very pleasantly surprised!  I know I didn’t and I was very pleasantly surprised, it’s very very nice!


Cheers to a successful lavender garden/farm planting!

Come on over and smell the lavender…..okay, the plants may be too small at the moment but just wait ’till next year! Well no, don’t wait, come see it now and watch it grow and enjoy a wine tasting while you’re here!!

Part 3 – The Lavender Planting begins

One down, six hundred and thirty nine to go…………

Working on the first row. The plants are 3′ apart within the row and there will be 5′ between rows.

This is a great view of the scenery around the vineyard. I can imagine the same view in twelve months time when the lavender and vines are in bloom and I’m standing with a glass of wine in hand, watching the lavender flowers gently swaying in the breeze!! Ahhhhhh!

The person blocking the view and taking a break from digging holes is my wonderful husband (and unpaid laborer!!) who has given me so much help and support.

Part 2 – Preparing the ground for planting lavender

Lavender requires similar growing conditions to vines, i.e. lots of sun and well drained soil. A soil analysis however recommended that 700 lbs of dolomitic limestone and 100 lb of phosphate be added to the planting area. John Weygandt, the owner of Stargazers Winery, kindly used his tractor and discing machine to dig over the area.  That saved us a LOT of effort, thanks John!!  Here I am spreading the limestone…….

After another tilling (thanks again John!), and some hand raking to level things out a tad, weed matting was laid over the area and secured with anchor pins.  Finally the area is ready for planting!

Part 1 – Creating a lavender haven at Stargazers Vineyard and Winery

The seed for this project began when I was sitting with a glass of wine in hand, overlooking a vineyard, thinking “What could be more perfect than this…..excellent wine, beautiful scenery……fragrant lavender! “

So I started to research lavender – growing lavender, selling lavender, anything to do with lavender.  I came across a place called Sequim in Washington State. Not only is it the self-styled “Lavender Capital of North America” with over 30 lavender farms in the surrounding area, but they also happened to be holding a conference on lavender within the next few months. I registered myself and my husband and we flew out to Seattle.

The conference was excellent with workshops, lectures and presentations from expert growers from around the world. I have never been so relaxed at a conference before! We got information on the many types of lavender, how to grow it, propagate, cook with it, make products, market it, just about everything. We met some wonderful people, all passionate about lavender and all so helpful.

When we returned I began to develop my products that I’ve been selling at the Kennett Square Farmers Market and various local craft fares over the past year. I enrolled on a course “From Soil to Sachet“, run by Susan Harrington from Labyrinth Hill Lavender Farm, which led me through the steps of creating my own lavender haven. I then came to an agreement with Stargazers Winery for the use of part of their land.

And here I am, just over sixteen months after that fateful glass of wine, with 640 lavender plants sitting on my driveway waiting to be planted!!

Boxes of lavender plants

The 640 lavender plants arrived in 5 boxes.  And they were delivered with all arrows pointing up!

Each box contains 4 trays, 2 on top and 2 on the bottom, and each tray contains 32 plants.  There are 608 Grosso, 12 Melissa, 10 Folgate and 10 Royal Velvet. The Melissa, Folgate and Royal Velvet are culinary lavenders.

Lavender plants

Part 1 of this project should really have been about preparing the land for planting BUT the plants were delivered 2 weeks earlier than expected and the weather didn’t want to cooperate and so the area to be planted wasn’t ready…..oh the plight of the farmer!

Dog Fest – Avondale PA

It was rather a chilly day at the Dog Fest in Avondale PA but the event was for a good cause, the Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League.

There were lots of vendors selling all sorts of stuff from dog biscuits to dog houses to lavender & flax filled dog grooming gloves (a fat spike lavender company item!) as well as several dog rescue organizations. The dogs waiting for homes were all so sweet it’s hard to imagine that anyone could or would abuse or abandon them.

Below is a photo of a lovely Great Dane checking out Beth Petersons TTouch at Positive Pups & Ponies table. Please note that the dog on the table, happily gazing out of the window, is not real, just avery well behaved cuddly toy!

One large puppy!

This next photo is of me with my bully, Wynne, and Nancy from Positive Results Dog Training. Wynne is modeling one of my new products, a lavender filled dog bandana. Lavender is said to calm and relax as well as deter ticks and fleas and of course it smells lovely. I can’t imagine what Wynne would have been like without the bandana as she was so excited at meeting so many new playmates!

Baker St Blodwyn of Bethel

In the foreground of the photo below is the Yorkie Rescue group and me with Wynne in the background. Thank goodness there were lots of people interested in the Yorkie’s as they were blocking the view of the dunkin donut box from Wynne. I’m sure she was thinking ‘I know they’re here somewhere’!

Yorkie rescue group hiding the donuts from Wynne!

My next event will be at the Eco-Fest in Kennett Square on Saturday May 8th, 9am-3pm. Click on the following link for more details Annual Eco-Fest