Once upon a time, there were plenty of different lavender plants in France. It took lots of effort and love to cultivate the plants and gather them. The traditional lavender farming has a long story and its very interesting to research if you have time for it. But one day people discovered Lavandin, a plant which looks and smells like traditional lavender. It was easier and cheaper to grow, and everybody were exited. Forget the traditional lavender, lets grow lavandin! Woohoo! And they did that. One problem though… Lavendin does not produce seeds and has absolutely different abilities as lavender…
What does Young Living have to do with all this? Gary Yong, the founder of Young Living took the knowledge about traditional farming to USA in 80s. He also brought the seeds of different traditional lavender with him and began his story over the seas (you can read the story of young living here). At some point there were a real lavender seed crisis in France because of many farmers were growing lavandin. Gary brought the seeds back to France. Supporting the traditional cultivation and building one of his distilleries in Provence. He literally helped farmers to keep on their tradition and work. There is a special Provence Collection on Young Living product list and you can read more about the farm here.
This was the place where Ingrida and I spent our time. Ingrida almost lives there all the summer and I assume it will be a long winter in London for her after this lavender paradise. I promised I will tell you about different lavender types. This is very complicated to put shortly in a blog text. For all of you who are interested to learn more about it I recommend visiting Provence and its charming castle Simiane-la-Rotonde.
In this castle you will find Young Living Shop and its host Philipe who can answer all your questions about plants, oils, seeds, aromatherapy… basically everything about essential oils. Story from the source is always very exiting! You also can contact us which is a little bit easier and we will try to answer every question. But seriously, don’t hesitate and visit Provence because its unforgettable!
Meet the Lavender…
Fine/ true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), as it is often referred to, grows from 800 metres to 1800 metres above sea level, as a small cluster with 5-7 rows of single flowers on each stem. This helps us to differentiate fine lavender from lavandin. There is a variety of fine lavender called Maillette lavender. Whilst you may find many different varieties of Lavandula angustifolia in a field of fine lavender, Maillette lavender plants look almost like clones.
Spike lavender grows from 400 to 800meters. It has many spikes per stem and grows in large clusters. Like fine/ true lavender it reproduces by seed.
Wild true lavender is considered the best lavender in the world. It is pure and only grows where the conditions are ideal, between 700 and 1000 metres.
Wild lavender shares the same properties as the cultivated lavender, but also possesses a wider range of molecules, some of which are quite rare. This is comparable to differences between meat from wild/organic sources and conventional meat.
Lavandin grows between sea level and 800 metres above. It is a hybrid which came about through bees transporting pollen from the true lavender to the spike lavender. Like spike lavender it grows in very large, round clusters with 7-12 rows of single flowers on each stem. It either has 1,2, or 3 spikes. It may have 1 like the fine/ true lavender or 2 like the spike lavender, or it could have 3.
Much less expensive to grow than true lavender it is used on an industrial scale to scent many of the household products we use each day. Although often confused with true lavender it has a considerably less subtle aroma. Another contrast with true lavender is its comparative lack of health supporting benefits.
Lavandin does not produce seed. Reproduction is achieved by cutting which happens in autumn which leads to more wood. The cuttings are left in sandy soil throughout winter without light to grow roots, but not flowers. Although some farmers buy ready-to-plant plants, others have their own greenhouse for reproduction. Additionally, plants are also grown in greenhouses from seed. The cultivation of lavandin is highly industrialised and employs specialised machinery and equipment.
I took the information from the homepage of Young Living Provence which I highly recommend for looking up. For any other questions about the oils, visiting the farms, and learning more about the distillery process, contact us. We are always ready to share the stories and knowledge with you!