Back in June when my younger sister was here, we packed a lot into our time, like visiting Oxford, Bibury, and Stow-on-the-Wold. But perhaps my favourite thing we did was visiting Cotswolds Lavender. It's only a 15 minute drive from Stow-on-the-Wold, and in the right direction of Birmingham, so it made for the perfect final stop on our mini tour of the Cotswolds.
Visiting a lavender farm was a dream come true. The purple flower buds were as far as the eye could see in one direction and the rest was surrounded by beautiful countryside. But the smell. Oh, the smell was heavenly. It was the sweetest smell I've ever smelled.
The fields are made up of three types of lavender:
English Lavender: Probably the best known of the lavender family, produce generally compact, neat plants with a profusion of flowers. The best known varieties are Hidcote and Munstead. Almost all of us have some this family somewhere in our gardens. They produce the highest quality essential oils used for toiletries and perfumery.
Cottage Garden Lavender: These grow larger than Angustifolia types and are often used at the back of a border to give height and movement. Typical varieties are Grosso and Abrialii. The most widely grown group of lavenders in the world due to their high oil bearing properties used for bulk fragrance applications such as soaps and room fragrances. Their oil contains a more camphorous note. Technically this group are a hybrid of L. angustifolia and L. latfolia.
French Lavender: Completely different in nature to both L.angustifolia and L.intermedia. Has large, fat heads on top of slender stems. Colourful bracts (often compared to rabbit’s ears) protrude from the top of the flower head. This group will keep flowering if ‘dead-headed’ through the flowering period. They do not produce commercial amounts of essential oils and are regarded as an ornamental variety. Some varieties can be frost sensitive.
The farm is open to the public from early June to early August, but the best time to visit is the end of June or early July. It's a £4 admission for adults, £2 for children 5-15, but you can get a season pass for £7.
You kind of have to get creative for photos to avoid the people everywhere. This particular field is on the side of a hill, so it's really easy from the bottom to get a lot of bystanders taking their own photos. While we were there, we also saw a couple doing a maternity shoot and I can only imagine how gorgeous those photos will be with such a picturesque background. Photographers are able to use the fields for shoots and workshops, but have to pay more for access. Unfortunately drones aren't allowed at any times.
Cotswolds Lavender is known for their products, like chocolate, lotion, and essential oils. You can go into the area where they distill the essential oils and read about the process and all of the products are available for purchase across the road at the shop. We even saw a lot of their products in Bibury.
The only mistake we made was not going across the road to visit the barn, which has the shop and tea room. They have a lot of lavender treats, including lavender ice cream, which I would have loved to have tried.
If our July hadn't turned out to be so busy, I definitely would have loved to get a season pass with Luke so we could go back, but perhaps that's an activity for next year. Even if we don't, I highly recommend it.