A lavender photo story.
Once upon a time on a hill in the middle of nowhere in northern Slovenia, there was a field of lavender. Two fields to be exact, and they belonged to Blue Hill Slovenia, a small sustainable business run by a young couple with an eco certificate and a passion for all things lavender.
Viktorija and Alen started their lavender journey in 2015 on a farm property in Topolšica with a couple of lavender bushes, but today they have over 6000 of them, which makes them the largest lavender producers in Slovenia. They do everything by hand and their products have won several quality awards across Europe, which is great as it’s always nice to see dedicated, eco-friendly small businesses succeed. They’re also super friendly and you may remember that I recently did a culinary collaboration with them about cooking with lavender. Besides their lavender products, they offer free visits of their fields when the lavender is in bloom, so my friend and I went to check it out (and goof around with photos).
We got a tour of the blooming fields and a short presentation of their products, which include skin care (soap, hydrosol, body oil and aromatic oil), flower bouquets, culinary lavender, lavender syrup, wine liqueurs and even lavender beer made by a local microbrewery (a very floral IPA). Turns out they grow 5 sorts of true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, also known as English lavender), which all come in slightly different shades of purple and their fields are a small paradise for bees. We learned all about the benefits and various uses of lavender, as well as the difference between true lavender and lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia or Lavandula hybrida), a lavender cross-breed, which is very common in Croatia and France.
Lavandin yields about 10x as much essential oil as true lavender, which is the way it was bred. It is a cross breed of Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula latifolia, also known as spike lavender, a pungent lavender sort native to Mediterranean Europe. Due to its high essential oil content, lavandin also has a high content of camphor, which will make your food taste like pungent soap and can be harmful in large doses, so you should always use true lavender for cooking to get the right result. True lavender is more sweet, floral and calming, while lavandin is stronger, herbal and energising. Once you’ve smelt and seen both of them in comparison, the difference is really obvious, but it’s best to rely on the Latin names when in doubt.
Blue Hill Slovenia
I was surprised to learn that both of their fields together yield only about 3 litres of oil and that pure lavender oil is considered a dangerous chemical in Slovenia – go figure. We were also very happy to try their lavender wine liqueurs and since they don’t sell them online, that’s an added incentive to visit them and come see the fields. Apparently lavender blooms twice a year, in June and September, so Blue Hill Slovenia offers these free field visits in June. You can also join them for the lavender harvest in late June/early July and try your hand at harvesting and learn all about the steam distillation process (the fact that their flowers are distilled straight away is what gives their products the quality and beneficial skin care properties).
Getting there: You’ll definitely need a car to get there, but the good news is that Viktorija and Alen are also open to having visitors outside of the official field visiting season, so if you’re ever planning to be around, feel free to ask them if you can drop by for a visit and learn something new about lavender.
Photos of me by (Blebe)Tanja.
P.S.: Just to clarify, this is not a sponsored post like the others were (they’re marked), because these field visits are free and open to everyone. 🙂
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