While the sharp, clean fragrance is what makes lavender so popular for aromatherapy, bath and body products, and household items, the color is most important to the Umbargers. “It’s been a staple in our wreaths for years,” she says. “Dried herbs don’t have a lot of color, so we really depend on the lavender for color—lavender and yarrow.”
The Umbargers grow several varieties of English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and some x intermedia hybrids as well. They use no pesticides and control weeds with the tractor or by hand-pulling. Harvesting is done entirely by hand. Knowing exactly when to begin cutting is tricky. Carol says they check the fields daily to see when the buds are fully colored and the flowers are just beginning to break open—if the flowers open too much, they’ll fall apart when drying. “When the bees start coming, it means hurry up,” she adds.