“An arber fayre to paradise, right well comparable, set all about with flowers fragrant” Hawes; 1554
Past summers were always long, hot and lonely. Both my parents worked so I often stayed with my grandparents. Granddad was a gardener and taught me the secrets of nature; Grandma cooked, filling those endless empty internal spaces with unconditional love, cakes and other goodies.
But there was nothing more delicious in the whole world than my Grandmother’s famous lavender lemonade. I can still smell its odd combination of flowers and lemons. As I drank, the floral scent lifted my heart and I forgot my loneliness, whilst the tangy tartness of the lemons quenched thirst like nothing else: summer bliss in a glass.
And so began a lifetime’s love affair with Lavandula Angustifolia, and all her sister species. As well as those long summer days helping my grandfather in his garden, soothed by the gentle aroma of the lavender growing there, and sipping my grandmother’s nectar, there are other memories. Dark winter evenings cutting and sewing mauve silk into circles, threading the hem around the circles with pretty ribbon, and then stuffing them full of dried lavender flowers before drawing up the ribbon and tying it to form cute little bags. These kept our underwear drawers smelling sweetly but I loved the bewitching aroma that lingered on my fingers for hours after finishing them. In time, there was the fun of teaching those skills to my own children and their friends; skills which have now, seemingly, withered to the status of an historic country craft demonstrated at summer fairs, and sold on craft stalls.
Yet today we still have its ever-popular derivations – lavender scented candles, air freshener, linen sprays – to name a few. Lavender is once more being used to treat dis-ease of the mind and body. Lavender is the fashionable additive to baking, and is being used creatively in cooking programmes with almost boring regularity. Garden centres seem to have more lavender than any other single plant species and lavender farms are springing up around the country to rival those in Provence.
That plant, so beloved of Elizabethan knot-gardens, Lavender, is not yet ready to retreat into the history books, but is having a revival that is almost spectacular. Until recently it has had the image of being an old ladies perfume but it is once again becoming trendy thanks to our 21st century search for a more natural and holistic lifestyle.
“Lets go to that house, for the linen looks white and smells of lavender, and I long to lie in a pair of sheets that smell so”. Izaak Walton: 1653
So, many years after those idyllic summers, half a century to be accurate, and growing tired of the stresses and strains of social work, I gave up my job to set up my own business. Having trained as an holistic therapist (Indian head, flower essence therapy, colour therapy, life coaching, Reiki, meditation and counselling) in order to distract me from my own stresses, I subsequently combined my skills into my own unique form of therapeutic colour life coaching. And when I needed a name – I turned to that flower of my childhood: Lavender. It was inevitable really; my garden is full of different varieties and shades of this sublime plant; my favourite colour is lavender (mauve, purple, violet – in whatever hue, shade, tint or version takes my eye) and you will find it in my home turning my bedroom into a sanctuary, my kitchen into a summery glow, and my personal wardrobe is an anthem to its particular physical wavelength – it is everywhere in my life.
So it wasn’t surprising when the flower chose itself as my business name and image – and yes I really do mean Lavender chose itself – I hardly had a say in the matter, so entwined is lavender with my life.
Lavender Fields therefore, became the business name – both for my therapeutic work, and as a banner for my I-shop selling my paintings. For my logo I chose a heart cropped photo of a lavender field that I had taken on a holiday in Jersey, the original of which still adorns my kitchen wall framed in silver. But the crowning glory came when I undertook, about that time, a Flower Psychometry course (the language of flowers) and discovered that wands of lavender flowers represent upliftment, and reaching for and accomplishing higher goals, finding your life’s work and true pathway in life. I already knew about its transformational and healing properties but here was a more symbolic meaning that was so perfect for what I wanted to achieve with my business. Synchronicity never fails to fill me with amazement, it is everywhere.
The walls of my kitchen, hallway and bedroom are painted in different shades of the flowers colour; my wardrobe is packed full of the same shades, even my jewellery includes lavender shaded crystals from amethyst to fluorite and mystic topaz. I once had dark purple streaks added very effectively and unusually to my blond hair, so much do I love this angelic colour and the plants it derives from. My garden features several varieties of scented purple, violet, and magenta roses, magenta foxgloves, violet campanula and cornflower, and lavender coloured geraniums all of which serve to draw attention to the abundant bursts of lavender.
I am sitting now, typing this article, surrounded by the heavenly scent of that lavender growing happily in my garden – and so, from time to time my mind drifts back to my grandparent’s garden. Who would have thought that seeds sown then (both literally and figuratively), are growing so strongly now, in this new century. My love of lavender, and its on going attributes – physical, psychological, therapeutic and commercial – are continuing to relax, heal, transform and uplift all that come into contact with it. Lavender has fulfilled its transformational promise to me and I am now happily running the business of my dreams; it has helped me reach my goals and is now helping others, through me, to reach theirs. But that is the wonder of Lavender – the Goddess’s Magic Wand.
Balm for the heart,
Inspiration for the spirit;
Dull, grey woody stems
Bear leaves of little regard.
But come the summer sun
A glorious transformation:
Tall steeples of lilac bells
Reach up to worship the light;
Slender wands of wistful sensuality,
In ordinary lives,
With heavenly, aromatic bliss.