Lavender farm

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The Lavender Farm Blog

The lavender farm is not only a working farm but a well established Isle of Wight attraction. Within the farm team, there is an overwhelming desire is to share and bring to the attention of the public the many interesting ecological and educational aspects that we see on a daily basis.

Our primary goal is to operate a successful business, however,  we also see ourselves as an educational and informative centre. To this end we will be publishing various articles based around our nursery experiences as well as what we call good sense ecological propositions, that need to be shared, discussed and understood.


Bare Root Rose

Bare Root Roses
Bare Root Rose
When you first receive your rose delivery, unwrap them, and inspect for any damage. Then carefully place the root or roots in a cool place to stop growth but with some moisture such as a damp cloth, so that they don’t dry out

As long as there is good wrapping or packing around the roots you can keep them for some time, such as in an empty freezer which is switched off.  Keep the top open a tad of the freezer and make sure they are kept moist.

However, if you need to store them for more than say twelve days then I suggest you take them outside and heel them in. 

Using this method you can store the bare root for some time, firstly create a trench around twelve inches deep in reasonable soil not too boggy, then lay the roots on their side at a 45 degree angle, cover the root ball with soil and heel them in with your boot, leaving the head of the root exposed.

Be sure to check the trench regularly for moisture and when needed gently ease out each rose for replanting in final destination.


Obviously they should be moved prior to the generation of new root growth as this is easily damaged so a good planting plan should be adopted in order to make certain the roses are given the best chance to thrive.


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Besom Broom

Most farms have tucked away areas full of discarded objects overgrown with weeds and grass.  The Lavender Farm is no different.  One such object we unearthed looks like a bench crossed with an early bone shaker bicycle without the wheels, but it is in fact an efficient besom broom making machine.

The Besom Maker

Looking like nothing more than a stick with twigs stuck on, or upside-down supermodel having a bad hair day, the besom broom is instantly recognisable to most of us as the witches broom. However, it was for centuries the typical broom.  It was traditionally made with a hawthorn stave for the handle and birch twigs for the brush part, but heather, straw and herbs were also used. The twigs were attached to the stave with a split withy, a thin flexible branch from the willow tree, or twine made from brambles or other suitable plant, but string and a nail are used today. Its distinctive appearance is partly due to the twigs being tied around the end of the stave, giving it a rounded shape rather than being flat ended as more modern brooms are.

The besom has seen an increase in popularity in recent years in line with more interest in woodland management and using renewable materials. If looked after, a besom will last fifteen years, it looks better than a plastic or metal handled broom, and when its worn out just throw it on the bonfire rather than landfill it.
So why the connection between witches and brooms? There is all sorts of hokum connected with brooms and folklore.  According to J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, witches chose brooms to make magic because they were easy to hide. A variation on this is that it was a way of camouflaging a staff, the handle, which was used to harness magical powers.

They were also used to symbolically sweep away harmful energy and protect houses and their occupants. You can also turn them up the wrong way for good luck or jump over them for the same effect.

There is, perhaps, a more believable origin for the mystical reputation of such a humble tool. Before trained medical professionals became the norm for healthcare, a local woman, often a widow or spinster, would dispense herbs and potions and help with childbirth.  Because such things could be effective but no one really knew why they were sometimes accused of witchcraft and, as they were women who at the time were strongly associated with housework, the broom became part of the magical image.

In Welsh folklore they were used as an important part of marriage ceremonies.  All the couple had to do was place a broom across the doorway of their home-to-be and both jump over it.  If neither of them knocked it over then the marriage would be a success, if they did then it would end in disaster and the whole thing was called off. If they decided that they’d had enough in the first year they could jump the broom leaving the house and they’d be divorced.

Whether you want one as part of your Halloween fancy dress, to fly over the rooftops, or to sweep worm casts from the lawn, they are also decorative and environmentally friendly, and very much in use today.


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The Belgian Connection

We’ve all done it to idle away an hour, to see what goes on, to be nosey about other people’s clutter, but rarely do we find anything interesting.  But just occasionally something catches our eye.  It won’t be worth much, unless you are one of the rare lucky ones who turn up on Antiques Roadshow to tell their story.
It is, of course, the car boot sale. Most countries have them and it was one such that Brian and Rita Watling visited in Tongeren, a small town near Maastricht in Belgium.  They once lived on the Island and so they were surprised to spot a distressed wooden box with the Lavender Farm name and address stencilled on the side. They did, of course, buy it, and use it in their kitchen as a utensil holder.  As Brian commented ‘We used to live in Newport, Isle of Wight in the sixties and found that this was a nice memento to have.’

Lavender Farm Tool Box
"A box by any other name ...."

How did it come to be in Belgium? Well, the Lavender Farm was started over twenty years ago and this was one of the original items we had made for our shop. Although we’ll never know the details it had two decades to get there.


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