Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Lavender, lavender that makes your linen sweet

The garden is something of a perfumed paradise at the moment. Climbing the steps, I brush against the fragrant honeysuckle, then I am surrounded by heady rosemary, next I walk round the herb bed with its scented thymes, lemon balm and mint. But overwhelming the rest is the lavender.
I have three varieties of lavender but next week I will be at Buckfast Abbey, where the lavender garden contains 150 varieties. The lavender there is harvested in September, but I will be taking some of my own along for several activities with the youngsters on the summer camp that I'll be leading.

This afternoon I have been sewing dozens of little calico bags for the children to make into lavender bags and pillows. (Perhaps we should make them on the first day and hope that we get a peaceful night.) We will also make lavender biscuits and cakes. When I get home, I would like to try out a recipe I have found for lavender champagne and another for cordial.

Here is my favourite recipe for lavender biscuits (cookies):
4oz butter
4oz caster sugar
4oz plain flour
1 tablespoon fresh lavender, finely chopped
Icing sugar to dust
  • Cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Sift the flour and stir in the lavender.
  • Fold the flour mixture into the creamed butter and sugar.
  • Divide the dough into small balls and flatten lightly and place on a greased baking tray
  • Bake in a moderate oven (180C, 350F or Gas 4) until just beginning to colour
  • Cool on a wire rack. Dredge with icing sugar to serve.
There, I didn't even mention the Aga!

Lavender champagne
40 or 50 lavender flowers
4 pints cold water
12oz sugar
4oz sultanas, finely chopped
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
  • Stir all the dry ingredients together in a large glass bowl
  • Pour on the water, vinegar and lemon juice and stir well.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 7 days.
  • Strain the liquid and pour into sterilised bottles.
  • Seal and leave for another week, when it should be sparkling and ready to drink.


  1. That sounds even better than elderflower champagne, M. Do you have to pick the flowers in full bloom and when the sun is on them (which you have to do with elderflowers)? Sadly, I have lost all but one of my lovely lavender bushes (back to the gardeners from hell saga again, I'm afraid) so not enough flowers this year - but am planting more for next year.

  2. I haven't tried the champagne recipe yet, D. The instructions are scant, as you can see - no mention at all of sun, moon or stars.

  3. How I envy you! Our climate is too harsh for lavender - I've tried so I know! If I want lavender I have to buy it in small containers (to a steep price) at the pharmacy.

  4. Just reading this has the scent of lavender in my nostrils! I bet the biscuits are tasty (and that champagne sounds lovely too!)...

  5. Margaretha, I will ask the gardeners at Buckfast if there is a hardy variety of lavender that you might grow. The pictures of your garden are beautiful, especially the fruit. I only have apples and strawberries but I am tempted to try growing more, having seen those lovely red currants and raspberries.

  6. I will definitely have to make some lavender champagne so that I can report back, Logophile.

  7. Thank you Maureen! I'd love to have some lavender in the garden - but I also know that even if a plant is hardy and survive our winters it doesn't mean that they thrive. I've had some very sad looking surviving periwinkles for example.
    Berries are great as they don't require lots of attention - and they are soooooo good!

  8. How did I miss this post, M?! I've only just discovered it while admiring your new layout. Thanks for the lovely recipes. I'm a lavender-lover too but have never come across lavender champagne before and am determined to have a go.

  9. I had better hurry up and get on with mine, Juliet, so that we can compare notes. I'll be making a batch of the biscuits this afternoon, to take to camp.


I love to read your comments and promise that I will reply as soon as I can leave my garden, sewing room or kitchen!