So for the first time since I’d learned about it, I actually managed to show up for the Sequim (pronounced “squim” for those not cognizant of the pronunciation of Northwest Native American languages) lavender festival this year.
Sequim is, for those unfamiliar with western Washington, along the very northern end of Puget Sound before it flows into the straits of Juan de Fuca just south of Victoria BC.
It’s about a two hour drive (or ferry ride and drive as the case may be) from Seattle sitting in the warm rain shadow of the Olympic mountains. Which means, for some odd reason, that the climate is ideal for growing lavender.
I don’t know how long there have been lavender farms in Sequim. I do know that the festival has only been around for twelve years. And every single dang year for the last -oh- 10 years or so I’ve been occupied during the weekend of the festival. Mid-July is absolutely the right time for lavender. Most varieties are in full bloom and those that aren’t blooming have mature pre-bloom flower bracts that are ideal for culinary or scent use. And if you are, as I am, a major garden geek, spending the day snorfing at lavender bushes while wandering absolutely stunning gardens and interacting with a wide variety of other garden geeks…. well…
Sheri and her mother in law, Nancy, and I started out from Sheri’s house at 0800. We caught the Bainbridge Island ferry from the Coleman ferry dock downtown before heading basically northwest across the Hood Canal and up along the sound almost all the way to Dungeness.
There are eight major lavender farms involved in the festival as well as a number of minor farms, a biggish street fair, and more garage sales per square foot than I’ve ever seen. People in Sequim must save up their garage sales for this weekend knowing that there will be literally THOUSANDS of tourists driving through town with wads of cash willing to purchase anything from anyone that has lavender anywhere close to their wares.
Sheri and Nancy and I hit our first farm, Sunshine Lavender, at about 1030. We got our tickets and spent the next hour wandering through the gardens, inhaling lavender and honeysuckle (a charming combination) brushing leaves of various herbs that were inter-planted with the lavenders, and drooling over the smell of the grill that was going next to the plant stand which was turning out some type of lavender spice rubbed meaty yummies.
Since Sheri and I had good reason to visit the plant stands (very good reason, honest, I’ve still got big empty patches in my front garden), neither of us really tried to restrain ourselves or each other from purchasing plants. I thought I’d seen most of the varieties of lavender, I was absolutely wrong. I’ve got seven or eight lavender varieties in my collection, I am WAY outclassed. I think I counted forty seven different sub-species. I did not, in fact, purchase one specimen of each of the ones I don’t have. But I got a lot 🙂
I lost track of all the names of the six farms that we ended up going to. The ones that stand out were Sunshine where we heard a remarkable twangy honky tonk country band. The Purple Haze Lavender Farm, which is on Bell Bottom Drive (of course), where we heard what I originally thought was Jimi Hendrix on a PA system but what turned out to be a guy playing a didjeridu that was longer than he was tall. The didjeridu band played for the best part of the hour that we were there and I can attest to the fact that the didjeridu (that’s a fun word) did NOT stop. At all. Ever. I’m not sure there was an actual human on the business end of the instrument, I think it was a human shaped air compressor. That dude REALLY had his breath control down.
On the subject of breath control, I present this which was displayed prominently at the didjeridu booth which was one of the artist’s booths present at Purple Haze.
I’m not sure whether it’s better to annoy your bedmate with snoring or to annoy your neighbors by practicing the didjeridu.
At the last farm there was an all woman marimba band. These were, by far, the most animated musicians I’ve seen since the last time we went to see Taiko and they were making some remarkable noises. They had several of their marimba tubes doctored so that when the plank was struck the resultant noise would be resonant and buzzy, rather like a kazoo. It was wonderful. So was watching this lady. I think my father would have tried to appropriate her for his ecstatic dancers series.
We spent seven hours touring six farms, eating lunch at one and, of course, sampling lavender ice cream at others. For the record I’d seriously recommend blueberry lavender ice cream, it’s really something.
Andrew wouldn’t have enjoyed it, basically a seven hour garden tour and shopping trip, but Nancy, Sheri and I had a lovely time.
These are not, by any means, all of the photos that I took, but a good representative sample thereof. If you want to go next year please let me know, we’re already planning our next outing.