A patch of purple at Heritage Lavender in rural Berthoud
By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
The word lavender often conjures up images of the South of France, where the lovely plant turns the rolling landscape a stunning hue of purple. However, lavender isn’t just the domain of the French. Today, the Old World flowering plant is undergoing a renaissance in the New World, and Colorado has gotten in on the game.
Trudy Perry of Berthoud is a master gardener who has always enjoyed making stuff grow. Over ice tea, laced with lavender simple syrup, Perry shared with me her recent love affair with lavender.
“Over the last 30 years, all of my gardens have had a little lavender in them,” said Perry. “It does real well in this area because of the heat, and it’s fairly drought tolerant once it’s established.”
Having worked in healthcare for many years, Perry was in need of a change. She finally came to the realization that stress was negatively affecting her life, and that’s when she discovered the therapeutic value of lavender.
“Lavender became a soothing thing for me,” she said. “I started researching what I could do with the lavender I was growing in my garden.”
She discovered that lavender has many health benefits. It’s a stress reliever and can help with insomnia. Perry says two to three drops of lavender oil on a pillow or under your nose or on the bottom of your feet can help induce sleep. It can also relieve congestion, is helpful for aches, pains and muscle stiffness, and works as a natural insect repellent for people and pets.
During this time Perry’s brother gave her 16 plants that he’d started in his greenhouse by seed; a difficult thing to do, because it takes a long time for lavender to grow from seed. When those 16 plants took off like wildfire in her garden, Perry was hooked.
After visiting lavender farms in Washington State and learning all she could from books, the Internet and attending a conference, she was sold on the idea of starting a small lavender farm on her one-and-a-half acres of west Berthoud property.
She started with 250 plants, and these went into the ground in May 2013. These plants did well throughout the growing season and, while some didn’t make it through the winter, most of the lavender has bounced back this summer.
In the beginning, Bob Perry, Trudy’s husband, wasn’t enamored with the idea of growing lavender, but after attending several conferences with his wife he discovered something he enjoyed – the oil distillation process. With Bob fully on board, this spring they planted 600 plants.
They have named their business Heritage Lavender, a nod to their agricultural roots. Both Bob and Trudy have strong historical connections to the farming communities in Colorado and Kansas. She grows several types of lavender, including the French variety that’s perfect for making oil, and the English variety that she likes to use in cooking.
“I want to be on the cutting edge of culinary lavender, because it’s really starting to take off here in the United States,” said Perry.
In fact, she has made progress on this front. Sun Rose Café in Longmont now uses Heritage Lavender in their signature lavender lemonade. Perry recommends using lavender with lamb and chicken. It can also be used in desserts and makes divine simple syrup like the one we enjoyed in our ice tea.
Heritage Lavender products include essential oil, dried lavender, soaps, lotions, eye pillows, lavender spray, tea, bath salts, and even a laundry soap that’s all natural. Find their products in their Etsy shop and follow Heritage Lavender on Facebook. Visit them online at HeritageLavender.com. Trudy Perry welcomes visitors to her “patch of purple” for prearranged tours.
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