I don’t know about you, but I’m craving a change of scene, travel and stimulation. I’m indulging in some armchair travel via Instagram, with a particular penchant for photographer Jamie Beck’s dreamworthy images of the South of France. Browsing one day I was reminded that I had heard via the lovely Shawna of Exploring Edinburgh and Ildi of the Edinburgh Enthusiast about a Scottish lavender field in Fife last Summer before lockdown eased and put it firmly on my bucket list for this Summer. So we set off last Saturday, basket in hand!
A slice of Provence nestled next to the shores of Loch Leven, Tarhill Farm is home to Scottish Lavender Oils, Scotland’s only lavender farm. The hill is a haze of green, purple and blue, with row upon row of the plants in full flush by the end of July. To the left, you see the darker purple blooms of English lavender that you’ll be familiar with from gardens, while to the right is French lavender, with its more subtle shades but breathtaking scent. The latter is difficult to grow in Scotland but the excellent conditions on the farm mean it flourishes in this spot of Fife where just six years ago Tarhill Farm planted 8000 lavender plants.
We explored the purple hillside, abuzz with so many bees and butterflies, before being treated to a demonstration of the distillation process, which was fascinating in itself. The lavender – cultivated and grown sustainably and hand harvested – is gently distilled in the farm’s copper still with Scottish spring water direct from the Farm’s springs. The process is a traditional one that preserves all the plant’s active ingredients and takes time to extract small amounts of oil – resulting in a quality and purity of oil that is second to none. The smell of the lavender being distilled was just heavenly and I was thoroughly impressed by the farm’s sustainable credentials.
As well as lavender, the farm has diversified into chamomile as well as herbs including rosemary and mint – which they are in the process of testing for oils. There are wildflowers aplenty and beautiful areas set aside for ‘rewilding’. We even saw a hare frolicking in the flowers. The farm is finishing up its annual lavender field open days tomorrow as they are about to harvest the plants at their height, but I’d thoroughly recommend a visit next year – top tip being to try and get there early or get creative if you want a ‘clean’ shot of the blooms, and make sure you stick around to see it being made too. We left with a bunch of blooms and some lavender oil for our burner, and I know the scent will transport me straight back to this idyllic Summer day.
Have you ever visited a lavender field? What’s your idea of an idyllic Summer day out?