Wednesday, 23 July 2014


As I sit in the garden in the cool shade of the house, a gentle and aromatic wind blows softly around me. 

The air is scented with fragrant lavender from the nearby shrub which has been buzzing with bees for the last few weeks, causing the heavily bloom-laden plant to appear constantly waving in the breeze even when the air is still. 

The tall, fragrant wands of deep lilac bob gently as I watch the bees bounce from one stem to another, some working their way around the plant in an orderly manner, in a clock-wise direction, others flitting up and down the plant in a more random fashion. 

Lavender is one of my all time favourite plants, and today Bella and I had a wonderful treat with a trip to a Lavender nursery in the beautiful Kentish countryside not too far from us.

Downderry nursery is a small family run company even though it is home to the world's only Scientific National Plant Collection of Lavender, and is one of the premier lavender nurserys in the country.

Downderry nursery is a regular exhibitor at both RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where it won Gold this year once again, and RHS Hampton Court Palace Show.

It is situated down a quiet country lane in a beautiful, old walled garden which, as soon as you enter, is filled with the aromatic scent of lavender. Bella kept saying the air smelt like pizzas, and I guess maybe all the different lavender scents intermingled with the rosemarys.......but smelt like lavender to me! Just as you go in you can see the still at work, producing the pure lavender oil which they also sell (and which of course I had to buy!).

The lavender plants are planted in formal and semi-formal arranged beds so you can walk round the walled garden and see many of the different varieties they grow. The lavender fields are only open to view on certain weekends, so sadly, apart from a glimpse, we didn't get to see the beautiful, straight rows of purple lavender, but what we did see and smell were well worth the trip anyway.

this row of white lavenders above were a variety called Edelweiss, which sadly they had sold out of so I'll have to wait for next years plants.

There were lavenders in all shades of purples, mauves and lilacs, and soft pinks, creams and whites. There were tall lavenders with long wands of flowers, which were mainly the tall, traditional and highly scented plants - the lavender x intermedia (Lavandin)......these are very hardy.

There were the very hardy lavendula angustifolia's - small, tradtional and tough little lavenders, the True Lavenders, with a lovely sweet scent.

Some of my favourites were the frost hardy lavenders which include many of the beautiful lavenders with "ears" on top - some pale pink, all shades of lilac and purple, and even some sweet ones with white or pale green ears - in their brochure they have a couple that I'd love to get, Tiara and Van Gogh, both with little greenish yellow ears on top of deep purple flowers - stunning!

We thought there were more plants to see through the doorway in the wall - but when we got closer we realised it was a mirror! So clever!

We bought three of these "eared" varieties -
 L. With Love, a sweet little cerise coloured lavender with pink ears; 
L. Whero Iti - a reddish mauveish one with mauve ears; 
and L. stoechas subsp. stoechas, the dark purplish French Lavender.

Whero Iti above (I think!)

I also bought a lovely purple L. angustifolia Hidcote

After wandering around and soaking up the scents and visual delights of the lavenders in the walled garden setting, we chose our plants and treated ourselves to a lavender ice-cream - well, it was very hot and we just had to try it! It was perfect, lightly scented but not overpowering, and very refreshing - not at all sickly, which is what I had half expected.

a bee on one of the new lavenders......they don't care its still in a pot!

Back home, I took a few photos of the lavenders in the garden - mostly angustifolias I think - the large well-established plant on the patio (see photos at beginning of post); a smaller one planted last Spring by the pond (below); and a couple planted near the small gravel terrace of the "Mediterranean" garden (ha! I wish!) which has a yucca and which, one day, I'm hoping to have full of fragrant herbs and flowers that remind me of the many holidays I've enjoyed in France, Greece, Italy over the years.

Also blooming prettily at the moment is this pale pink hollyhock - the bees love this almost as much as the lavender!

And this fuschia (can't remember which one) is full of blooms this year - last year it was very late flowering, well into August, and not many blooms

I searched for and found an old favourite book on Lavender to browse though when we got's a lovely book with the history of lavender, lovely things to make for the home with lavender, culinary uses with recipes, aromatherapy uses, household uses and, of course, lots of wonderful photos.

So back to the usual menu of the day - you've had the flowers, so here's the sewing!

This cushion I finished last week, but still have to put in my shop. Made from a mix of recycled curtain lining fabric and fresh fabrics, with old work shirt buttons, it is hand quilted. The back is a cheerful summery deck chair stripe in ice cream colours!

And I've just started piecing these blue and red vintage feedsack and 30s/40s cottons, which I'll combine with a crisp, white vintage linen - more next week on this I hope.

And still on the lavender blue theme, I took this posy of blue hydrangeas for my Mum when we visited for the day yesterday.

Hope you're all enjoying the summer temperatures wherever you are - many thanks as always for taking the time to visit me and to leave a comment, I love to read them all and am trying to keep up with your blogs even if I don't always comment.


  1. Hello Gill, your house and garden are looking so very pretty in your pictures. The day out looks to have been very interesting and fruitful. I too have a lot of lavender in my garden and have been harvesting and drying bunches to sell in the shop. My favourite is the Hidcote one, because the colour is so rich, but I wouldn't say no to any of them!
    The hydrangea you gave your mum is a lovely shade of blue too. Love the feedsacks too. Much love to you, Linda x

  2. What a wonderful visit with so much lavender; thank you so much for sharing your lovely pics with us Gill, as well as all the information on the huge variety of lavenders. And lavender ice-cream? Well, no reason why not :) BTW, I noticed the prices on some of the plants and have to say that, even allowing for change in currency, we would have to pay at least twice that amount for a plant that size!
    Your new cushion is so lovely, as is the new one in progress, and the hydrangeas for your Mum are of such a gorgeous rich colour, I bet she's loving them. Enjoy your weekend when it gets here lovely! Hugs for you, Joy xo

  3. Are you sure that mirror doesn't lead to a secret garden? So pretty and the pillow is too

  4. I love lavender too and should really buy some more varieties for the garden. I'd really like to try white or cream for a change. We had lavender ice-cream when in Gdansk in May. It was very nice - I was worried it might be overpowering or very flowery but it was lovely.

  5. What a beautiful garden, with some lovely looking plants. Your trip looks interesting, I have never seen the white variety of lavender before. I too have several varieties of lavender and dry it out to use to make bits and bobs with. As always great cushions, they are a delight.

  6. Hello Gill, thank you for such a lovely virtual tour around Downderry, I will definitely be on the lookout for their open days, it looks heavenly. I really like the sound of the lavenders with white or pale green ears, will keep an eye out for those and lavender ice cream sounds like food from the gods. Love the colours in your new cushion. See you soon.
    Jane xx

  7. So lovely Gill, I'd be quite happy to have a garden full of lavender and nothing else - I think its so calming.
    Kate x

  8. The lavender farm looks beautiful, it must have been wonderful to visit. I thought that mirror was a doorway through too until I read your explanation! It think that it is the stone at the bottom of the mirror that really makes it work so well. Your garden looks beautiful too, so many lovely flowers, ours looks sadly neglected right now because of the other things going on here. Your cushions are so lovely, I like the little touch with the buttons on the triangles one too! I hope that you are having a good week. xx

  9. What a wonderful place to visit Gill, I love lavender, it always reminds me of France! I've never tasted lavender ice cream but I can imagine how delicious it just be.
    Aren't bees mesmerising I could watch them all day just doing their thing.
    Gorgeous cushions, I know I say it every time but it's true!!!!!
    V x

  10. Good Morning Gill, Thank you for such a lovely trip around your garden and for the visit to Downderry Nursery.... the lavenders were beautiful. I can only imagine the lavender perfume which must have filled the air.... it must have been glorious.
    I smiled when I read that your daughter thought the lavenders smelled like pizzas.
    I have lots of lavender in my garden and as in your garden, the bees visit every day. Living in Kent your flowers are much further along than mine are, as my hollyhocks are only about a foot from the ground.... of course it is a lot colder here in the North East. For instance, today, most of the country has lovely sunshine, where as we have woken to be greeted with a very cloudy day.
    The sunny colours on your cushion are lovely and I just know it will be sold very quickly.
    Enjoy your sunny day.
    Best Wishes to you.

    1. Hi Daphne, thank you so much for your comment! I have tried and sadly failed to leave comments on your blog many times in the past so I'm glad you don't hold it against me and have come back for more! I think it's because I havent signed up yet to Google + as I'm not sure how it will affect my Picasa photos.
      It's interesting to hear that our flowers are ahead of yours,in the NE - bonus is you've got it all to come whereas ours will be over all too quickly!
      Thank you for all you lovely words and for visiting and leaving a comment Daphne!
      Gill xx

  11. My children often think they've caught a whiff of pizza on the breeze as well... The lavender nursery looks amazing, I bet it smelt fantastic, it's just about my favourite scent I think. You've chosen some lovely plants, I hope they do well for you. I bought a white eared one the other day. There's one of the other sorts at the allotment (not mine) that has flowers about three inches long, it's sensational and covered in bees. If I ever see the plotholder I shall ask for a cutting. CJ xx

  12. A gorgeous post, I love lavender and your photos are such a treat. I love all the different types of lavender and it grows well here which makes me love it even more :) Your cushion is so pretty and summery, I love those citrus colours and the little buttons. Enjoy these sunny days, Gill!
    Helen xox

  13. I adore lavender but have never had any luck growing it. Down here it is too hot I think. Plus, stores here only sell one kind of lavender it seems and they are never marked with what kind. I'm thinking it is not the hardy one so that people have to go back each year and re-buy. America has gotten one -dimensional especially with the big box stores here. Although there seems to be lots of choices, it's pretty much what will survive shipping and they are raised and bred that way too. It's that way with our food here too. Americans don't realize, like I didn't until I started reading blogs from across the pond, all that we're missing out on. I'm sure some that travel do understand but who's going to complain and what good does it do? I do try to sign petitions and write to "officials" as much as I can but everyone's running around like crazy....too busy to care. If I didn't have family here I would move over there simply because you seem to have a greater respect for everything; preserving the variety of plants and animals; preserving the quality of your food and environment. Over here....big business runs the country and they are only interested in making a profit even if they destroy life in the process.
    I apologize for getting on my soapbox but I am worried about what kind of planet my grandchildren are going to inhabit when it seems only a few countries in the world truly care about it.
    As for your lavender sweet and your gardens too are a delight. I love hollyhocks as they were my favorite plant as a child.
    Your pillows are amazing especially since you re-purpose items into something so beautiful. I can't wait to see the shirting cotton pillow. How can you give them up? I'd want to keep them all! LOL!

    1. Hi Sam, thanks for your comment and its very interesting what you say, and such an eye opener. I assumed you have similar set ups and choices in the US with the major profit making companies being there but also having a choice with specialist small businesses for food, plants etc. We have big garden centres, for example, and the major food stores often sell plants etc too, but we also have a lot of small nurseries and plantsmen throughout the country selling both ordinary and specialist plants direct to the buyer, by mail order or online, with a wider choice of better quality plants mainly grown by the seller, and often cheaper than the major chains.
      Same goes for food. We have the major supermarkets but then have specialist suppliers and growers like the farm shops where farmers grow and sell on site, and small businesses which sell through them or direct at fairs or weekly farmers markets, selling specialist cheeses, or salad stuff, or jams and pickles etc. In towns and cities we have specialist food stores run as small businesses as well as the major chains of supermarkets.
      I never realised it would be any different in the US. It was very different here a few years back, but peoples buying habits changed after lots of food scares over poor quality food, production methods, food travelling lots of miles, cheap imports affecting our farmers livelihoods, and increasing awareness of what goes into our food, and all that has helped promote change in both the producers and sellers of food. The supermarkets had to take note and now we have a higher standards in terms of quality food and labelling where food has come from and how its been produced or reared, and how many miles it has traveled etc. than we used to. I try to buy most of my fresh produce from a local farmshop rather than the big supermarkets when I can, and support local businesses generally as do lots of people nowadays. The lavenders I bought from this small family business were cheaper and better quality than had I bought them from the local chain of garden centres, but sadly not everyone can get to a nursery to do that and have to choose from what is available.
      Hopefully you'll see some changes too at some point, and the more people complain the more likely something will happen to change things.
      Thanks for your kind comments on my cushions!
      Gill xx

  14. I can't tell you just how much I love Lavender, matter of fact I think in my family I'm known for that and often gifted Lavender something or other.

    I love all your Lavender and I especially love the beautiful cushions, so pretty :)

    Hope you're having a wonderful week.

  15. Oh my word, your posts are like going on a mini vacation . . . I can almost smell the lavender. Visiting your blog is a treat for the eyes. Thank you for sharing.
    You have blessed my busy day.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

  16. I think Connie said it all Gillian!
    But really I noticed the sale tag and once again, I sigh...Life is getting more dire by the minute it seems but never more so than here! I never could do with the $ what I could do with a few pounds! Just so you know, 3 heads of cauliflower in Ramsgate (April!) costs one (Sterling) pound whilst hubby came home last month with a head weighting 4.25 pounds at $1.69 a pound....Do the math and don't faint! (I almost did!)
    Meanwhile I love the lavender in your garden and thanks for sharing Dear!

    1. Good grief I never realised food was so expensive in the States, that is a shocking price! Mind you I think the Ramsgate price was exceptionally good anyway, I'm sure around here we pay around a £1 for one cauliflower head, but even so that's still very cheap compared to your prices.
      I didn't realise that prices were generally a lot higher in the States compared to the UK.
      Thanks for your enlightening comment Noelle!
      Gill xx

  17. Isn't lavender just the best. And your description was so evocative I could absolutely smell the lavender nursery. The lavender farm hereabouts closed its doors last year, to our great disappointment, making your post all the more delightful to me.

  18. Dear Gill,

    I've been there, I've been there! Yes, it is a wonderful place indeed but your pictures and description are unbeatable. The patience and dedication involved in taking all thonse wonderful, clear pictures; bravo!

    I share your love of lavender. Infact on my latest post I've included my current favourite recipe for peach and lavender tart. I'm really keen to make a lavender hare too ... maybe next week!

    I'm so jolly glad I didn't miss this post :-)

    Warmest wishes,


  19. Oh my I honestly don't think I would have been able to leave. I think the hubby and kids would have had to leave me there. I have such a deep love for lavender and despite my efforts to shower our garden in lavender, it just doesn't want to seem to grow everywhere in our garden, which is a shame. What a very special place to visit and thank you for sharing this with us. Sending much love xoxo


Thanks for visiting and for taking the time to leave a comment - I love to read them!
Gill x