Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Carshalton Lavender Open Day- July 2012

I think from a young age I have been a fan of lavender.

My father in the garden would always grab a handful and say smell this.
We had large Lavender, Rosemary and Sage Bushes around the front and back.
I have been lucky to have plants in my life.
To this day I can't help rubbing my fingers over a lavender bush and taking a big whiff.
When I did a gardening course it was one of the ways to do plant identification, smell it first then read it's name, this would tap the memory to the smell as the two are closely related.

I became particularly attached to Lavender when I developed intense anxiety in my early 20s. Lavender and Chamomile have been my firm friends since then although my anxieties are much more in hand. My cupboards always stocked with chamomile and I have multiple bottles of Lavender oil around the house.
So when I discovered South London had it's own Lavender field I had to go and see. I found out it had an open day in July and a call for volunteers. I caught a train from Vauxhall and headed out there.

Carshalton Lavender is on the backs of the Stanley Road allotments in Carshalton Beeches, 3 acres of lavender, entirely run by volunteers.
It was a gloriously sunny day and I had my new sunhat and covered my self in sunblock.
Amongst the lavender was a little fayre of about 10 stalls selling all sorts of lavender related goods. From soaps to honey to plants themselves and they had this fantastic pick your own stand.

I asked in what way I could volunteer and was given some clippers and a bucket and asked to fill it up to sell on to those who were not able to pick there own.

Amongst the lavender, buzz hundreds of busy bees, uninterested  in me. Quite an odd feeling to gently brush away a bunch of bees whilst you chop bunches of lavender.
I was lucky enough to be able to join-in helping with using the bigger industrial type lavender gatherer, a huge vaccum like machine that two strong people hold above the lavender tops, which chomps away the flowers and sucks them into a big bag that I got to hold the end of.

So I trailed behind these guys, holding up the sack end, clambering over lavender bushes being sprayed by shrub dust. it was great fun!

In the corner of the field was a huge lavender distil where they were making oil there and then. All their lavender is distilled on site over several weekends, I have a treasured little bottle of it.

Whilst there I heard someone mention Vauxhall and I began talking to a lady, Ruth Morgan, who is considering plans to help make use of a smaller lavender field in Vauxhall park. It turns out she runs a stall at South Lambeth Market selling Vauxhall lavender bags and I had actually brought and own one of her bags, she is also friends with Stockwell Studio! Small world indeed!

The heat of the day got the best of me in the end and I headed home with honey, lavenders and a very lovely pokora from Curry Cook House who normally set up at Deptford Market (get over there and try their pakoras! -phwoar! tasty!)
I recommend anyone to visit especially at harvest time, such excellent fun! and such a unique and wonderful experience.



  1. Great Blog most enjoyable read. Slight correction we distill all the lavender on site (over several weekends).
    Regards, Laurie. (Carshalton Lavender).

  2. Thank You! I have corrected the mistake and you reminded me of the little bottle I have of it that I brought off Ruth Morgan at Stockwell Festival. It's a treasure that I only use on special occasions :) Thanks for such a wonderful place! HannahM