I am here at Silent Stay Retreat Hermitage this week. I have been working on their garden here for over a 1 1/2 now. Today as I was dead heading the lavender I decided to take my gloves off and hand pick the old buds off the plant. I wanted the lavender oils to touch my skin so I could benefit from the medicinal quality of Lavender. The more I dead head the more relaxed I became. I love the sweet silence the retreat offers. They also have their own bee hives and some of the sweetest honey Mother Nature could offer.
One of the common fragrant beauties in France is Lavender. I love riding through the Lavender fields in Southern France when it blooms in early Summer. Lavender comes from the Latin word Lava, which means to wash. It was one of Mother Mary’s flowers, going by the name Mary’s Drying Plant. Lavender was used just like rosemary during Medieval Days. They would hang freshly washed clothes over the bushes to scent the laundry as it dried in the warm Mediterranean Sun.
Silent Stay’s Healing Gardens
I must say there is nothing like a good bottle of Lavender oil tucked away in one’s pocket to help with stress. It helps to create calmness and just is an all around good essential oil.
The essential oil industry is big business here in the South of France. I once lived in the area very close to Grasses, the capital of perfume and essential oil business. I bought my essential oils from a man in a small store in Menton. We would anxiously wait for the first pressing of the Lavender and the fresh oils would hit the shelves. But the way the essential oil business started in France was because of fashion, not for the medicinal properties of the oils. Catherine d’ Medici, born in Florence Italy, married Henry II , King of France in 1547. She was known for her fashion statements and she began to wear kid gloves scented with essential oils of Lavender or neroli oil. It became such a fashion rage between the nobles that the South of France began to create tanneries that would scent the leather gloves with essential oils. Fields and fields of Lavender began to be planted and extracting essential oils became an art form.
But when the French Revolution began the Nobility with the lost of their heads began to flee the country. The tanneries were closed down since wearing scented gloves was a sign of nobility and you just did not want to be wearing scented gloves in those days. However, distilling essential oils continued for their healing effects and also for the pleasure of creating perfume.
Lavender’s little flower teaches through the color purple, the color of transformation. This plant has ever-lasting quality since its flowers dry very nice and can be used in sachets. But the essential oil was also used by little old ladies. It teaches us how to age gracefully, just as the flowers of Lavender dry on their stock but still retain their essence within the smell.