A few weekends ago, Mark and I went to the Arizona Red Rock Lavender Festival to experience fields and fields of purple lavender thriving, out in the rural Arizona hills. The lavender farms in Arizona are small but mighty and the dry desert climate is ideal for robust lavender. The combination of the heat, soil, and seasonal monsoon rains make the lavender grow like crazy and lucky for us, summer is the prime time to harvest. So we woke up at dawn, packed up the car, and set out on a 3 ½ hour drive to see, smell, and taste the Arizona lavender fields for ourselves.
Arizona lavender blooms all summer long and for two magical weeks the Red Rock Farm opens its doors to eager lavender gatherers to pluck and prune their fields. The lavender grown here in Arizona is some of the most robust lavender in the world, thriving at an elevation of 6,100 feet and bone dry climate. The 40,000 lavender plants the farm grows actually started as a happy accident which turned this family into unexpected Arizona lavender farmers. They now ship their prized Arizona lavender all over the world in bouquets, essential oils, soaps, and lotions!
The latest botanical addition to this Arizona lavender farm is a vineyard, which just recently started producing enough grapes to harvest and bottle their own wine. Grape vines and lavender plants grow perfectly together and protect each other from unwanted garden pests. Who would have thought that lavender and grapes are garden buddies? I love the unexpected pairing!
While wandering through the lavender gardens, I was not only dusted in the scent of lavender, I also got a bite. The farm showed us how to use lavender beyond decorative displays and essential oils - we learned all about its culinary applications. And let me tell you .. these edible purple flowers pack a flavorful punch! We also learned that not all lavender is edible and only a few varieties are considered to be true culinary lavender. Keep an eye out for the royal velvet and provence lavender varieties, they are for cooking.
I left the Arizona Lavender Festival with the taste of lavender on the tip of my tongue and my head blooming full of recipe ideas. Seeing this beloved purple botanical in a new delicious light makes me so excited to get in the kitchen and use it in new ways! I love my lavender lotions and lavender essential oils, but I think I am going to love my lavender culinary creations even more.
Have any fun lavender recipe ideas? I'd love to read about them below!