Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lavender Festival - Beagle Ridge Herb Farm

A road trip with photos

On Saturday four of us, Tena, Susan, Warren and I got going early and made a 75 minute drive to Beagle Ridge Herb Farm. They were hosting their annual open house Lavender Thyme at Beagle Ridge. It is a bit of a trek to the middle of nowhere in the Blue Ridge Highlands of southwestern Virginia. The last few miles involves travel over roads that have seen logging activity, so some skill in dodging potholes is required. I fortunately served as the trusty navigator and co-pilot.

Warren Reed, Tena's dad, is a retired geologist that worked in remote corners of planet earth doing oil exploration. Susan, a yoga instructor met Warren for the first time on our journey and they shared the back seat. Eavesdropping on their conversation proved entertaining. Susan asked intriguing and insightful questions and Warren's storytelling skills clue me in to where Tena obtained her ability to spin an amusing tale.

Beagle Ridge is a 160 acre wooded retreat that is home to deer, turkey, rabbits, countless bird species and the elusive bear. They serve as an Environmental Education Center and you can find out more at this link

The weather gods were kind on this Saturday, sending mostly sunshine and at an elevation of 2700 feet summer temperatures were moderate.

Beagle Ridge has been around since 2001 and has gradually grown to 14 theme gardens and several herb collections: Lavender, Thyme, Oregano and Salvias.The operation is entirely organic.

Educational classes are offered for children and adults . There are many community programs including involvement with scouting programs and Project Learning Tree® (PLT).

Many Great Spangled Fritillaries fluttered about and several stopped to feed on the milkweed so catching two on film was easy. The caterpillars of this butterfly feed on violets, as do those of many other species of butterflies, so try to incorporate some of these wild species into your landscape if you want these flying jewels.

Gregg Reynolds cooks herb marinated chicken on the grill in preparation for a delicious lunch that was part of this open house event.

Ellen Reynolds, executive director and one suspects chief cook and bottle washer serves up mixed leaf lettuce and craisins in raspberry vinaigrette. We also had roasted, herbed potatoes, crackers with a lavender cream cheese spread and lavender lemonade. Sour cream pound cake topped with a glaze and sprinkled with lavender was served for dessert.

Here Ellen cuts some blooming lavender to demonstrate the making of lavender wands and baskets.

You must use an uneven number of stems for the weaving process to work correctly.

If making a wand, you would extend the weaving process to cover the blossoms. That way when they dry, any blossoms that come loose would be retained within the wand and stay around to perfume your drawers or wherever you have placed the wands.

For speed of demonstration, Ellen made a lavender basket. To finish this, she would wrap more ribbon along the top to from a carrying handle and weave in any stray stems. She recently made several of these for a wedding.

We also learned lavender cultural practices, how to prune and how to propagate lavender.

The next open house is in the fall when Beagle Ridge hosts

Garlic Thyme Sat. 10-5 on Oct 3

Their web site says:

Garlic Lovers Heaven!!! Join us for a full day of garlic; learn to plant it, harvest it, cook it and then taste the many types of garlic that are available. Learn how to braid your garlic, or just buy one of our braids.

If you are in the vicinity and love garlic or fear vampires may I suggest a road trip. You'll be glad you went.


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