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.


Shining a light…

November’s issue of the Beacon, an Island magazine, features The Lavender Farm and Reuben.  It gives you a broad idea of Reuben and the Farm’s activities, painting Reuben as the island character he is. 


reuben's tractor
Fordson Standard

The tractor he uses for ploughing competitions is the same one he first drove at aged 10, being a Fordson Standard. Aside from winning awards at ploughing Reuben and the team have won many medals for their lavender stand at Hampton Court Flower Show and others. 

champion ploughman
Champion Ploughman on many occasions

He also breeds rare sheep and his latest project, with wife Jill, is to cultivate a new strain of rose.  All this whilst running a 182 acre farm, maintaining an interest in rural crafts, and the tearooms and shop too!

Thank you to the Beacon and John Hannah for letting us reproduce the article.

Read more..

Botanical Drawings by Ruth Rawlings

We are delighted to be exhibiting botanical drawings by local artist Ruth Rawlings at the Lavender Farm tea-rooms. Ruth, an Island born artist, has exhibited both on the Island privately and with The Ventnor Botanical Artists, and in London with The Society of Botanical Artists.

Ruth trained on the Island under Deania Reid, a Royal Horticultural Society Silver Medallist and founder of Ventnor Botanical Artists. The Ventnor Botanical Artists was formed in 2002 and meets and exhibits regularly to encourage and highlight the art of botanical illustration.

Each illustration is original, hand drawn and painted using watercolours.  Those displayed in our tea-rooms are framed but there are also some unframed examples available.  Ruth has had to give up her painting due to ill health and these will be the last of her pieces available.

Originally, before the invention of photography, the purpose of botanical drawing was to record scientifically accurate depictions of plants. It is distinguishable from purely painting flowers because of the level of accuracy and realism needed. For instance, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers paintings are recognisable as sunflowers but they are nowhere near the level of detail or accuracy required of botanical illustrations.  

The reason they are considered art is that they are so well drawn and painted and the subjects are attractive in themselves.  Even now photography is available, illustrations are still used because of the unique perspective they give to plants.

Botanical drawings of the following plants are on display and available for purchase, please enquire in the tea rooms.

  • Dactylorhiza fuchsii                    £65             
  • Viola rivinia.                                 £65
  • Bellis perennis.                            £65
  • Victoria plum.                              £125
  • Rosa albertine.                            £135
  • Viburnum plicatum                     £135
  • Walnut.                                          £45


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Reuben's Rose Quest

Reuben’s Rose Quest

Reuben has always been a keen lover of roses as well as lavender. One of his new horticultural quests is that of the Isle of Wight Rose, and he is already three years into the development cycle of around ten years to cultivate a really special new and very “smelly” rose.

The real driving element here is Jill, Reuben's wife and business partner, who has the misfortune to suffer from a poor sense of smell. When Jill can smell the fragrance Rueben knows he has created a really “smelly” rose.

What actually goes into breeding the Isle of Wight Rose?

In a word, patience. The process can take up to ten years and so it’s an ambitious long-term goal for anyone to embark on. To start, you need to decide how many crosses to make. The definition of a cross is where two rose cultivars are brought together to create a new one, with attributes of both parents being found in the new creation.

Crossing is carried out in the same general way as Mother Nature does it, collecting pollen from the pollen parent and transferring to the seed parent. Every time this is done it is called a cross. Rather than rely on insects, birds or the wind, Rueben has to carry out this process by hand, carefully transferring the really fine pollen from parent to parent, and then accurately recording exactly what he has done. It’s vitally important to Reuben to understand the history of each cross so characteristics of petal count, fragrance, and disease resistance can be bred in or out.

A few months later, in the autumn, the seed parent’s blooms produce hips. These are berry-like in shape and bright orange to red in colour. Once ripened they can be slit open and the rose seeds carefully extracted and, again, notes taken of their details.

These seeds are then refrigerated until February, when they are sown in seed trays to await the germination process; details of each batch are marked and recorded. Eventually the new rose seedlings will develop, and as this occurs the strongest seedlings will be chosen to mature into full blown plants.

Reuben is looking for Grade One plants (Bare root roses are classified as grade 1, 1 1/2 and 2.  Grade 1 roses have at least 3 large canes (branches) and the lesser grades have fewer and/or smaller canes.)  At all times the possible grade ones are the final choices that will hopefully become commercially viable.

The above process can take years of crossing and analysing and re-crossing, not forgetting that the actual growth periods are seasonal so you only really see one good cross and development annually.   Once Rueben has what he considers to be The Rose it has to be trialled by other rose growers to verify its viability as a commercial rose. Only after this rigorous testing will the rose go into production to be sold to the general public.

On completion Rueben can announce The Rose and give it a name connected with the Isle of Wight. However, this will only happen if it passes the final test; if Jill can smell the fragrance from a distance.

Only then will he know it’s a really smelly rose!

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Reuben's Craft