Sharon Hull, This Week In The Garden| Lavender Sale Returns For Two Events

Just like what happened with so many events once the pandemic began, the Lavender Sisterhood of the Mid-county Senior Center (MCSC) canceled their annual sale last year. If you are one of the many fans of their handcrafted lavender items, you’ll be very happy to learn that this year, the sale is not only back, but will be held on two separate dates and in two locations.

The first sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday is at a new-to-the-group location in the MCSC parking lot, 829 Bay Ave., Capitola (behind the Woodworm Party Store). The second sale is from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 16 at their usual place at the Aptos Farmer’s Market, Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive.

Lavender in the MCSC garden. (George Kiernan — Contributed)

The group is made up of ladies (and a few gentlemen) who garden in the community garden at the Mid-county Senior Center in Capitola where they grow the most fragrant forms of lavender using organic methods.

Together, they are preserving many of the traditional lavender handicrafts. After harvesting and drying the flowers, the members create old-fashioned items by hand, and then offer them at the sale as a fundraiser to benefit the garden and non-profit MCSC.

Among the items you may find there: antique handkerchiefs hand stitched into little lavender-filled sachets and eye pillows, fragrant lavender wands braided with pastel silk ribbons, potpourri and small bags of culinary lavender, lavender-infused sugar, gym bag fresheners filled with lavender and mint or lemon verbena, as well as bowl cozies and masks.

All the items make wonderful gifts for gardeners, and for anyone who appreciates the old crafts.  The members of the Sisterhood will be there to answer questions about their products and pass on their gardening secrets – talk to them if you want to know how to grow your own lavender. Get there early as the most popular items sell out fast.

At the Saturday sale, you will also be able to shop for in-season organic produce and fresh cut flower arrangements, produced by the MCSC gardeners. In addition, the MCSC Craft Ladies and Book Club will be offering their hand made craft items such as hats, scarfs and blankets.

Contact MCSC at 831-476-4711 for information on the garden and how to become an MCSC gardener yourself, as well as information on other programs at the Center.

Bowl cozy. (George Kiernan — Contributed)

If you want to grow your own lavender (which is so appropriate now in our prolonged drought):  Give the plants sun all day, and well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy clay or poorly drained, plant in pots or in raised beds to avoid root rot. Avoid placing plants near lawns or anywhere that will have frequent watering; these very drought tolerant plants want to dry out between watering, and in fact, are longer lived and better looking when they receive almost no summer irrigation after the first summer.  They also prefer little or no fertilizer, another reason to avoid proximity to lawns.

Give good air circulation, and shear back by one-third to one-half immediately after bloom to keep plants neat and compact. If plants become open in the center with woody stems, remove one or two of the oldest branches; as new growth occurs, remove more woody stems to reestablish a compact leafy plant. Sometimes, this technique fails to result in adequate new growth. If this is the case with your plants, discard and replace them with sturdy new plants.

Gardeners in deer country have learned that lavender is one of the few plants that deer almost never touch. Even gophers are not fond of lavender, eating it only when there is nothing else to sample.  So you can probably count on not having to share your lavender with the critters, except for the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds that delight in the flowers.

If you want to know more, talk with the ladies of the Lavender Sisterhood on Saturday. They will be happy to discuss their favorite plant with all interested gardeners.

Garden tips are provided courtesy of horticulturist Sharon Hull of the San Lorenzo Garden Center. Contact her at 831-423-0223.

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