Published on August 6th, 2014 | by Charu Suri
3 A Visit to Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm (PHOTOS)
Lavender, with its exquisite mystique and a fragrance stronger than mint (despite being from the same family), has always been a dream of mine to experience in person.
Luckily, we were able to catch the tail-end of lavender season at New Jersey’s only lavender farm, Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm in Morganville, which had traces of purple magic in its over 2,000 plants. We found the hardy hybrid “grosso” lavender, also known as lavandin and the most fragrant of all the lavenders, in the very front in the parking lot. This was the bulk of what we picked; we also saw, tucked away at the back of the farm, plenty of unexpected snowy-white French lavender with its delicate butterfly-like tufts, and deep purple English lavender, a very attractive plant that grows in abundance in Sequim, Washington.
The farm is small, but the family passion is strong. Ellen Carcher, a schoolteacher who runs the farm during the summer hours, is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the plants. When we chatted with her, under an awning surrounded by baskets of dried lavender, soaps and lavender sprays, she said that the “lavender had burst into bloom in a very slim window this year” –in three weeks, the fiery purple carpet had come and gone, because of the erratic weather. Carcher urged us to visit Sequim, Washington (near the Olympic mountains) to witness vast fields of lavender similar to those in Provence, France.
Bees were everywhere, and many were romancing each flowers with the ardor of Casanova. Like pole vaulters they scaled and leaped from stalk to stalk, probably vying for gold in the lavender Olympics. I loved the chance at showing Erika how to cut the flowers from the nape and put them in bunches in a basket, and examined all the plants neatly spaced with the mathematical eye of a farmer. Carcher’s daughter, Aviela (Avi for short) took the time to come out and explain how exactly to cut the plants, and also the layout of the gardens.
Everywhere, butterflies drank nectar like it was the moveable feast of their lives.
Although seasonal, Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm is well worth a visit, especially if you’re in the tri-state area. Also sold are independent plants (even seeds, although they are best grafted) and lavender honey, which flies off the shelves like a true edible collectible.
Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm
288 Pleasant Valley Rd, NJ 07751
Phone: (732) 740-4832