Belgian Lavender

The Belgian province of Limburg is an expanse of green fields punctuated by neat red brick towns. Although Brussels is a much more laid-back and calm city in comparison to London, Paris or Berlin, as I stroll through the woods near Hasselt, Limburg’s capital, I feel as if I just left a bustling metropolis. It’s all serenity, stone church spires and the soft rustle of leaves in the trees lining the river. And the rich perfume of lavender.

lavender1

Although lavender is usually associated with Provence, there is a 4 hectare farm near Herkenrode in Limburg, and it’s open for the summer. “Yes, we have lavender in bloom, and it’s a genuine variety, not lavandin,” I was told by a lady at the nursery. “Please visit before we harvest it.” The following weekend my husband and I drove one hour to Limburg to see the lavender fields of Belgium.

If you have only experienced lavender in soaps or sachets, the scent may not seem exciting–camphorous, with a pronounced green salty note. Lavender in full bloom is a different story. Even before you see the pale violet fields, you can smell a warm floral aroma with the sweetness of hay and toasted almonds. The camphorous and  green leafy notes are noticeable too, but their sharpness only enhances the languid richness of fragrance in the air.

By mid August, one half of the fields were already harvested, but the plot left to bloom attracted all the bees from the province. I too stuck my nose into the neat sheaths of purple flowers and the strength of the perfume took me by surprise. It was like the lavender I was familiar with from the perfumer’s organ but brighter and fresher.

lavender

To capture its essence, lavender can be turned either into absolute or oil. Absolute requires a complex process with several steps, and while it’s longer and costlier, it preserves the floral notes of this aromatic herb. Alternatively, oil is steam-distilled, and the result is a fresh and camphorous essence. You can compare Caron pour Un Homme and Impact de Caron to see what a plush floral accent the absolute gives to the latter. Or try by Kilian’s A Taste of Heaven and Amouage Memoir Man for a similar velvety lavender sensation.

While the absolute is a special material in a perfumer’s palette, the oil is much more versatile (and less expensive). That’s the final end for Limburg lavender, and if you time your visit well, you can watch the process of distillation. I didn’t, and after walking through the fields, I turned into a scented garden. Besides several varieties of lavender with distinctly different odors, the garden was a place to discover a variety of aromatic plants. We spotted rosemary, marjoram, thyme, nepitella, oregano and labdanum (yes, the same plant giving us the dark and fudgy amber accords). I brushed the silvery branches of santolina, a herb used in the Middle Ages to cover church floors and drown out the odors of humanity, and the bittersweet, piney fragrance shimmered in the air. An unexpected whiff of the Mediterranean in the heart of Belgium.

santolinaroses

Besides lavender fields and the scented garden, the premises also include a cafe with homemade fruit pies, a vegetable garden and a labyrinth hiding ornate flower beds.  The late summer roses were in bloom. The sky promised rain but then it changed its mind. It became the same color as the lavender field below.

A body of a hapless lavender lover lost in the labyrinth? No, just some modern art.

modern art

Limburg Lavendel
Olmenbosstraat 25
3511 Hasselt – Stokrooie
T +32 475 71 58 25

For more visiting information, please see limburglavendel.be or deferme.be.  Call ahead to find out about the lavender harvest.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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113 Comments

  • Sara H: I can imagine how good it smells. Your photographs are lovely especially the one with you. August 19, 2015 at 8:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you. It really smelled wonderful, and we could tell the moment we got out of our car. August 19, 2015 at 2:51pm Reply

  • Elisa: I love the smell of fresh lavender, which is so rarely captured in lavender scents! A Taste of Heaven is my favorite. If you can find Savon lavender soap, the liquid kind made by Olivia Care in California, it’s the best lavender scent I’ve found in a body product, and actually reminds me of the Kilian. Hard to find online but I regularly see it at TJ Maxx and always buy it when I do. August 19, 2015 at 8:42am Reply

    • Victoria: They usually use lavandin in inexpensive soaps, since it’s much cheaper, and that’s also what gives “lavender” a bad name. And there is really nothing quite like lavender among herbs–aromatic, floral, green, camphorous, sweet and salty.

      Those small soap brands can be so good. I’ll ask my mom to look for it. August 19, 2015 at 2:53pm Reply

  • Marco: Interesting about oil vs absolute. How is Impact different from Caron Pour un Homme besides lavender absolute? August 19, 2015 at 8:50am Reply

    • Marco: I also wanted to know if you’ve been to the lavender fields in Provence. Is the smell different? August 19, 2015 at 9:07am Reply

      • Victoria: Yes, I have, and the smell is different. Belgium doesn’t get as much sun and the soil is different, so it affects how the lavender smells. French lavender is sweeter, more licorice like to me. August 19, 2015 at 2:55pm Reply

    • Victoria: Impact de Caron is an extrait version of Pour Un Homme, so it’s softer (despite the name) and has a sweeter, warmer backdrop. If you like Pour Un Homme, it’s worth trying too. August 19, 2015 at 2:54pm Reply

  • Hamamelis: What a treat to read a garden post on BdJ! Thank you for the evocative descriptions and photographs, you look lovely in lavender.
    I had not thought of growing labdanum in my garden, but if it survives in Hasselt it should do o.k. here.
    I am packing for our trip, Friday evening we’ll spend the night in Gent. Saturday we will visit Wevelgem on our way to France. Any suggestions for ‘have to smell scents’ in Place Vendome are more than welcome. I hope to smell some of the Exclusifs, Rue Cambon…
    I will keep notes on my trip and hope to contribute to the next scent diary.
    Now I am going out to smell the saponaria again, you know the one you had to weed out of your grandmother’s garden. She keeps scenting our garden and not only do I smell carnation, but also the kind of stick incense that I associate with the 60’s hippie shops… August 19, 2015 at 9:13am Reply

    • Sofie: I would suggest Hamamelis, to lean back and enjoy the ride the people of Place Vendôme will no doubt take you :-). August 19, 2015 at 9:58am Reply

      • Hamamelis: Excellent suggestion, thank you Sofie! August 19, 2015 at 10:50am Reply

    • Austenfan: I think they have a lot of the Guerlain exclusifs, the Cartier Heures apart from the Chanels of course. Just take your time, it’s a wonderful shop. August 19, 2015 at 10:15am Reply

      • Hamamelis: I will make sure my husband and travel companion leaves plenty room in our itinerary! August 19, 2015 at 10:51am Reply

    • limegreen: Have a great time! Remember to report back to us! 🙂 August 19, 2015 at 12:22pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: I will! August 19, 2015 at 4:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: Labdanum is a beautiful plant, with large poppy-like flowers, so it would be a good decoration. The stems are sticky–you rub them and you your fingers will smell of amber, but it’s not a messy plant. If I had a garden, I’d plant one.

      Your trip sounds so exciting! At Place Vendome, I’d focus on smelling Chanels and Guerlain in extrait versions, since that’s hard to find anywhere else. They have a huge collection overall, so I’m sure you’ll keep busy. If beer is of interesting, Westvletren nearby is a good stop. August 19, 2015 at 2:58pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: Thank you for the suggestion, as I will need to have some focus…we will need to get to Normandy that day (Mont Saint Michel/Avranches)! August 19, 2015 at 3:04pm Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, you have quite a schedule. Then definitely, it’s a good idea to be focused. Make a list of what you would like to try, but also feel free to ask for suggestions at the store. As everyone commented, they know their selection really well. August 19, 2015 at 3:08pm Reply

        • Austenfan: That’s still a long drive! Have a great time. August 19, 2015 at 3:57pm Reply

          • Hamamelis: Thank you! I will make sure we leave Gent early. August 19, 2015 at 4:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: P.S. I’m going to smell saponaria next time instead of hacking it out of the ground on my grandmother’s orders. 🙂 August 19, 2015 at 2:59pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: I will be so curious how you will describe its scent! Let’s hope some of it survived grandma’s orders. August 19, 2015 at 3:02pm Reply

        • Victoria: It will grow back next year. 🙂 August 19, 2015 at 3:06pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Looking forward to your notes, Hamamelis!
            Goede reis and happy sniffing! August 19, 2015 at 4:47pm Reply

            • Hamamelis: Thank you Cornelia! August 20, 2015 at 5:47am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Interesting and lovely post for lavender lovers like me. I lived one year in Gent, and often bought bunches of fresh lavender (hopeful not lavandin….what is it? An obscure plant pretending to be lavender?)

    I love the lavender in Artis (the Zoo) and sitting there with the sweet smell in my nose.
    As a teenager, my signature scent was Yardley lavender, still love it. August 19, 2015 at 9:24am Reply

    • Austenfan: Lavandin is to the best of my knowledge a cross between Lavandula Angustifolia and Lavandula Latifolia (Spijklavendel in Dutch). I think it has a better yield in oil than real Lavender, but I’m not sure. August 19, 2015 at 9:38am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Austenfan, thank you. You are an expert in gardening, but I know nothing of the kind…never heard of spijklavendel.
        Why is a cross between Lavandula Angustifolia and Lavandula Latifolia not ”real lavender”?
        I guess that lavender with small leaves crossed with lavender with big leaves will give a lavender with moderate leaves, but still a real lavender. What is my mistake? August 19, 2015 at 10:19am Reply

        • Austenfan: I’m definitely no gardening expert but all I know about lavandin is that it’s being the result of a crossing ( kruising of hybridisatie) of 2 plants in the lavender family. As I understand it, only lav. ang. is called real lavender in perfume speak. The oil smells very different and I guess if you were to analyse it would show a slightly different spectrum of components.
          I hope someone with real botanical knowledge will chime in as I can’t explain it any better. August 19, 2015 at 10:27am Reply

        • Michaela: Austefan and Cornelia,
          I’m confused too, and searched a little:

          http://blog.jerseylavender.co.uk/?p=260 August 19, 2015 at 10:30am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you, Michaela! Austenfan was basically right, but it was confusing. This article is clear. And now we know where the camphor note in soap and cheap lavender comes from. August 19, 2015 at 10:54am Reply

        • Hamamelis: Hi Cornelia, Austenfan is correct in that Lavandula Angustifolia is the ‘real’ lavender and Lavandin is a cross (it did not exist 60 years or so ago). I think the owner remarked on it being ‘real lavender’ because in Aromatherapy the Angustifolia is much more valued, and more expensive, and more healing properties are ascribed to it (e.g. treating of burns, it was used extensively during ww II by a French surgeon) than to Lavandin. Also its scent is more floral than the Lavandin which has a camphoraceous topnote. I also believe the Lavandin is sterile. Hope more input will be given by other readers. August 19, 2015 at 11:06am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Yes, it is sterile, you can read that in Michaela’s link. August 19, 2015 at 4:49pm Reply

      • limegreen: What a great post, the photos make the lavender fields so enticing!

        A part of the conundrum — The essential oil purists insist on “real lavender” as some essential oil from lavandin is marketed as lavender in the US, and usually at a lower cost due to the fact as Austenfan pointed out, that it has a better yield in oil. August 19, 2015 at 11:03am Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve seen that at Whole Foods, I think. It was labelled lavender, but it certainly didn’t smell like it. August 19, 2015 at 3:11pm Reply

          • limegreen: I accidentally bought “lavandin super” essential oil at a pharmacy in Paris last summer (I wanted some lavender to help me sleep) and it was clearly marked as lavandin, but I was just in a hurry. It was quite nice, and smelled nothing like real lavender but I can see where it can be substituted for lavender products if one is not familiar with actual lavender oil.
            I love running my hands over lavender spears as I walk by. The smell is delectable on the hands!

            (Just looked up l’Impacte de Pour un Homme, looks yummy!) August 20, 2015 at 2:33pm Reply

            • Victoria: Lavandin definitely has its place, in accords where you want something sharper or in functional products (detergents, softeners, etc.) where lavender and its delicate facets would simply be lost. It’s an important material. For instance, Eau d’Hermès uses lavandin in its bright, searing-fresh top accord. August 21, 2015 at 4:20am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m sure it was real lavender, since lavandin looks very different. As everyone else has explained already, it’s a cheaper lavender type material. It smells very camphorous, almost sweaty to my nose, and while it can be used in fine fragrances too to add a certain effect, it doesn’t compare to Lavandula Angustifolia.

      Lavender grows everywhere around Brussels, by the way. It’s a favorite plant for flower beds. August 19, 2015 at 3:01pm Reply

  • Rowanhill: Did they give any estimate when they are going to shave the other half of the field? I.e. is it too late this weekend? 🙂 August 19, 2015 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t think so! I think that they will keep one half till the end of the month. Do visit, if you have a chance. A jenever museum in Hasselt is also worth a stop. It has a large smelling bar (and you get to drink jenever as part of your admission fee of 6 euros). August 19, 2015 at 3:03pm Reply

  • Jai: What a wonderful day trip!

    Lavender is one of my favourite notes, and I first discovered it via an aromatherapy class, so I don’t have the typical North American associations with laundry scents.

    Thanks for sharing what the visit was like. August 19, 2015 at 9:43am Reply

    • Victoria: It was a serendipitous discovery. I didn’t expect to find a lavender farm around here.

      I’m enjoying lavender more and more in perfume. It’s such a wonderful note, and it can be twisted in many ways. August 19, 2015 at 3:05pm Reply

  • OperaFan: Lovely!
    We have a mini grove of (Munstead) lavenders lining one side of our front walk way, and several plants distributed around the house. I love the sudden whiff of scent in the air when the wind blows in the right direction. August 19, 2015 at 9:49am Reply

    • Victoria: Whenever you describe your garden, I imagine an alcove of serenity, colors and beautiful scents. 🙂 August 19, 2015 at 3:06pm Reply

  • leathermountain: Thank you for such a lovely post! August 19, 2015 at 10:00am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! Glad that you liked it. August 19, 2015 at 3:08pm Reply

  • DelRae: Hello Victoria,

    Such a beautiful description of Lavender! You have captured this classic beauty which unfortunately is so often dismissed as something for detergent and drawer liners 🙂 . Lavender is one of my favorite materials which I used in one of my very first perfumes Eau Illuminee.

    Limburg is definitely going on the travel bucket list.
    Thank you for this post! August 19, 2015 at 11:00am Reply

    • Hamamelis: Dear DelRae, I hope I can put in a slightly intrepid request here…I hope very much for your perfumes to become available (again?) in the Netherlands or on line in Europe. I know other readers of this blog who are, like me, very keen on trying and buying your wonderful offerings! Eau llluminee sounds so lovely. Apologies if this is not the right platform for this! August 19, 2015 at 11:13am Reply

      • DelRae: Thank you! We hope so too! August 19, 2015 at 1:28pm Reply

        • rainboweyes: I also hope DelRae scents will become available in Europe soon. My Panache bottle is almost empty and I have Mythique on my to-buy list. August 20, 2015 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s often unfairly dismissed as “cheap,” while in reality there are so many qualities. And so many classics wouldn’t be possible without lavender.

      I also would like to visit Grodków in Poland, which apparently grows lavender too. August 19, 2015 at 3:11pm Reply

      • orsetta: thank you for the pointer on Grodków, Victoria 🙂
        another interesting place in Poland is the ‘Lawendowe Pole’ (with a ‘Lavender Living Museum’ 🙂 in Nowe Kawkowo (quite close to the Baltic Sea) August 20, 2015 at 5:40am Reply

        • Victoria: Oh, thank you so much! I’m planning to return to Poland one of these days, so it’s good to keep some of these places in mind. August 20, 2015 at 12:15pm Reply

    • orsetta: Dear DelRae, Eau Illuminee is my big, big love… and this gorgeous composition is light years away from detergents or drawers liners 🙂 August 20, 2015 at 5:20am Reply

  • Claire: Another wonderful post! The photos are beautiful and it looks like a great place to visit, especially at the right time. I didn’t fully appreciate lavender until I grew it. The range of colors is of course so beautiful, but the fragrance is so much more vibrant in the air and sun. These plants, do, as you say, actually shimmer or radiate in the heat. Santolina, the many Oreganos and Thymes (and other herbaceous plants, but especially the Meditarranean ones) have this quality, but others, like Sweet Woodruff, and some varieties of species Geranium have a similar if more muted fragrance when touched. I grew two different Santolinas when I lived in a drier climate: one like that you have in the photo and another which was bright chartreuse green. My appreciation of their fragrance was another acquired one, but I grew to love them them and grew them mostly so that I could brush against them while gardening for an instant pick-me up. Thank you for reminding me of this forgotten fragrant pleasure. August 19, 2015 at 12:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: You reminded me that yes, lavender comes in many different shades. At the farm, they had white and dark purple, both beautiful.

      I was reading a medieval Persian manual on agriculture the other day, and it was insistent that these kind of herbs should be planted in a dry part of the garden, because “the smell of wet soil muddles their scents.” August 19, 2015 at 3:19pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: You are such a renaissance woman…inspiring! I came across an New Scientist article about the lunisolar impact on plant life, and how the moon’s gravity may govern plant movement. August 20, 2015 at 5:57am Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: The moon’s gravity governs my migraine as well. August 20, 2015 at 7:07am Reply

          • Hamamelis: Cornelia, I didn’t remember you were a migraineur as well! I have been one since my beginning 30s. Mine used to be governed by my period, which often coincided with moon cycles. One of the benefits of menopause for me are a lot less migraines (but not gone). Do you get migraines sometimes when there is snow expected? Do you use the regular medication (immigran)? August 20, 2015 at 7:43am Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: Hi, fellow migraineur! Migraine was really a serious handicap in my life, got it when I was 17. Alas, menopause made no difference. It comes before, during or right after the full moon. Immigran I have, it removes the pain, but I feel sick when I take it. So I seldom do that. My best remedy: singing songs and aria’s by Bach. You can also do it with Schubert, but Bach is better.
              Hope you will be free of migraine when you are travelling! August 20, 2015 at 9:18am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: Snow and fog can bring migraine, for me too. August 20, 2015 at 9:19am Reply

              • Hamamelis: Oh Cornelia, I had to laugh, because I always think Bach helps with everything! But I will try an aria…or any song if an aria is above my head. I also don’t feel so well with immigran, it is an emergency solution for me. I am so sorry menopause did not bring any migraine relief. I have tried many many things (the one thing that also helps me is melatonine, 3 mg, every night) but I am sure nothing beats Bach…
                Can you bear perfume when you have a migraine? I can bear a very fresh orangeblossom (neroli), Frederic Fekkai, I think it is the one that smells like Margiela untitled, and sometimes a very fresh Vetiver (Extraordinaire).
                I hope I will stay migraine free too, but I will make sure I bring my Ipod with Bach! August 20, 2015 at 9:26am Reply

                • Cornelia Blimber: Please try it! Bach is healing and purifying, especially when you sing it yourself.
                  The only perfume I can wear having migraine is shalimar edt. August 20, 2015 at 9:52am Reply

                  • orsetta: Cornelia, words of sympathy from a fellow migraine sufferer…
                    the idea of singing Bach is absolutely brilliant – and it also made me smile because recently i was singing/humming along to Lully ‘Marche pour la cérémonie des Turcs’ so as to correct my breathing and get more oxygen… August 20, 2015 at 4:27pm Reply

                    • Cornelia Blimber: Words of sympathy in return, Orsetta! You are right, it is about controlling your breathing, let your voice stream…you can sing anything, but really, Bach is best. August 20, 2015 at 5:09pm

                    • Victoria: I never realized how debilitating migraines can be until I had a bout of headaches that literally left me unable to do anything. It wasn’t a migraine, something else, but I now understand and sympathize. August 21, 2015 at 4:22am

        • Victoria: Fascinating! And Ibn Sina would agree.

          Reading these books I’m never sure a manual for what exactly I’m holding in my hands. 🙂 It’s not just people who were to receive pleasure from scents, but plants themselves too. Lots of talk of perfuming, fumigating with incense, massaging with oils and dousing with rosewater and honey. Maybe I should try it on my struggling jasmine plant. August 20, 2015 at 8:07am Reply

          • Hamamelis: Or sing Bach to your jasmine plant! I talk to my plants (and dog ofcourse), and a friend who owns nursery says she does it every day, and she is convinced they are sentient beings at some level…so she says “good morning, now didn’t you all have a cold night…” She is quite normal, as far as normal goes, just sensitive to her plants.
            Ibn Sina is Avicenna right? What book is it, you have me very interested (at least…if it is in English). I love humans like him who embraced so many different area’s of research and expertise. August 20, 2015 at 9:33am Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, that’s him. I’m reading excerpts from his Tract on Cardiac Drugs and Essays on Arab Cardio-Therapy, and for a more general overview of the medieval Persian agricultural practices, Ibn al-‘Awwam’s Kitab al-Filaha is very interesting. It was translated into Spanish, and into French as Le Livre de l’Agriculture, not sure about English. August 20, 2015 at 12:02pm Reply

        • Victoria: P.S. And came across a mention of lavender! It was known and admired in the 9th century Iran. It was considered an exhilarating scent because it ‘facilitated respiration’ by its ‘purging and cleansing action’. August 20, 2015 at 8:23am Reply

          • Hamamelis: 🙂 August 20, 2015 at 9:34am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I love lavender fields. I visited one in the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington State, a good ferry ride from Seattle. The scent was amazing, sweet, grassy with that lovely warm hay note. The sun was shining, the bees were buzzing. This is one of my best travel memories. The owners were selling lavender sugar and lavender honey as well as oils. Lavender honey is SO good. Definitely a must try, the same for sugar with lavender. (You have to have edible/culinary grade lavender for this so don’t just throw any old lavender into your food) :-)) Lavender fields are so alive yet so peaceful and beautiful. Ahhh, wish I could be there now! August 19, 2015 at 1:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Mmmm, yes, lavender honey is wonderful. Years ago a friend brought a small jar from Provence, and I have been trying to find the same kind of honey since, but nothing comes close. Not even the stuff I bought in Grasse. Possibly as lavender crops are suffering in Provence because of diseases, the honey is affected too.

      A friend made a delicious lavender almond cake for me a couple of weeks ago, and I have been meaning to try it too. August 19, 2015 at 3:22pm Reply

  • Mer: I must visit! 🙂 my boyfriend is from Limburg, but I don’t think he knows this place. August 19, 2015 at 1:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: My good friend is from Hasselt, he didn’t know of the place either. 🙂 August 19, 2015 at 3:19pm Reply

  • Aurora: So glad you seem to have enjoy very much the trip you were planning and thank you for explaining about the absolute, I wasn’t aware there was one. It’s a real treat isn’t it to smell the plant. Next week I will be in Provence, as you mention it’s the case in Belgium, by then the harvest will have been completed but I will be able to go near small mountain roads and look for high altitude lavender with its wonderful fragrance. I also like lavender products from Devon which is one of the places in the UK were lavender is grown. August 19, 2015 at 1:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh yes, Devon. That is too on my recently charted out lavender trail. 🙂 Have you visited there?

      Provence is so gorgeous at this time of year. Enjoy your stay and please share any interesting scent impressions and discoveries with us. I’m going to enjoy it all vicariously, also helped by a bar of Provencal rose soap. August 19, 2015 at 3:23pm Reply

      • Aurora: Hello Victoria, yes, I visited Devon back in 2007 as I was so ignorant of this region of the UK and was attracted by its Cote d’Azur of England status. Loved the red rocks and blue sea of the coast, lovely walks everywhere, small cruise from Torquay to Dartmouth (very pretty Dartmouth). I can thoroughly recommend it, perhaps with a combined stay in Cornwall, unfortunately I was lacking the time to do that. Thank you so much for your good wishes for my coming trip, and I promise I will share. Oh Provencal Rose anything is bound to transport you there! August 20, 2015 at 9:05am Reply

        • Victoria: Another recommended Cornwall, so my husband was curious about it as well. It sounds like it would be a great, scenic trip. August 20, 2015 at 12:31pm Reply

          • Austenfan: Cornwall has a lovely Tate museum in St.Ives. I also visited the Scilly Isles, very remote and scenic. August 20, 2015 at 12:45pm Reply

            • Victoria: Good to know! Thank you so much. August 21, 2015 at 4:16am Reply

  • Karen: Wonderful article and beautiful photos! (and what a cool necklace you are wearing!) Many great comments and it’s great to have a better understanding of the oil/absolute and how they are used.

    I want to second Rickyrebarco’s comment on lavender honey. We go honey hunting frequently, in search of honeycomb which is getting more and more difficult to find. Last year we ended up in southern Virginia and found a great source of honey. The beekeeper also kept some hives at a nearby lavender farm and the lavender honey was crazy good. The lavender farm closed, not totally surprising as it was way out in the middle of the mountains, but so glad we got there. August 19, 2015 at 3:29pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you. It’s pieces of wood, bakelite and metal. A fun piece.

      Honeycomb when it’s fresh is the best thing. And imagine it with some kaymak and maybe freshly baked bread… It’s true, finding it is not easy. But it sounds like you’ve been successful in your quest. August 20, 2015 at 12:05pm Reply

  • Neyon: Sounds wonderful. We’ve always had fresh lavender in our garden, dried lavender in our home, and it seems to smell especially addictive during summer. However, I’ve yet to visit an actual lavender field! August 19, 2015 at 3:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can just imagine the scent! Who needs a lavender field when you have your own in the garden. 🙂 August 20, 2015 at 12:05pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Lovely post on one of my favourite smells.
    I’m going to write down the address and visit that garden. It sounds wonderful, thanks for the tip.
    (and also for explaining about the difference in Impacte and regular Pour un Homme) August 19, 2015 at 4:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Have you tried Impact in the end? I know that you wear Pour Un Homme, but I don’t remember if I recommend Impact to you as well. August 20, 2015 at 12:06pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I bought Impacte in Wevelgem last year. I was intending to get a bottle of Fracas extrait but they didn’t have that. While we were discussing lavender Steven showed me L’Impacte and of course I was hooked. It’s become my most worn lavender. August 20, 2015 at 12:44pm Reply

        • Victoria: I just realized that I’ve called L’Impact by several different names in this thread, so I double checked, and it’s L’Impact Pour Un Homme. There is apparently a 2014 Millésime version of the classical Pour Un Homme, but I haven’t smelled it yet. August 21, 2015 at 4:16am Reply

          • Austenfan: And I realised that I should drop the “e”. 🙂

            I just looked up the Millésime 2014, still an eau de toilette but an intense version. I haven’t tried it either. August 21, 2015 at 4:37am Reply

            • Victoria: These clunky names… But once at a Caron counter I asked for Impact and was greeted with a blank stare. Only after I explained that I was looking for the parfum version of PuH did I get what I wanted.

              I love the original, but I’m more than curious about the variations. August 21, 2015 at 4:56am Reply

              • Austenfan: Same here, did you ever try Les Plus Belles Lavandes? Cologne version and very nice as well. August 21, 2015 at 6:46am Reply

  • Katherine: Echoing Karen’s comment – very cool and artsy necklace!

    Lavender is such a fresh scent that reminds me of my grandmother who adored it. She had bushes in her yard, sachets in her drawers, used Yardley lavender hand soap,and perhaps a splash too? My husband brought her lavender spray/water from his hometown in Provence – she loved it. Jersey (Chanel Exclusifs) reminds me of how she smelled during drydown (after copious quantities of soap, Jean Nate after bath splash, and Je Reviens, Rive Gauche, or lavender splash/spray). She wasn’t rich – but she was terribly carefree and over-the-top when applying her scents. I can see her now… August 19, 2015 at 11:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Such a wonderful recollection of your grandmother. Perfume, after all, is such an easy way to feel more put together (there are other reasons to wear it too, of course). My great-grandmother also loved fragrance, and I always remember her putting some on, even if all she was going to do is to work in the garden. August 20, 2015 at 12:12pm Reply

      • katherine: Same with mine (grandmother that is). She perfumed everyday – regardless of her plans. She preferred splash – she said that spray bottles wasted perfume because some was always left at the bottom of the bottle. I don’t see that happening with today’s spray fixtures. And I recall the perfect word to describe her cologne/perfume-splashing. Abandon was the word. She splashed it with abandon… August 20, 2015 at 10:57pm Reply

        • Victoria: I already feel much affinity with your grandmother. 🙂 August 21, 2015 at 4:23am Reply

  • Katherine: Oh, and you had me at: “Hasselt….It’s all serenity, stone church spires and the soft rustle of leaves in the trees lining the river. And the rich perfume of lavender.” Your description made me homesick for a place I’ve never been. That’s a first. Thanks. August 19, 2015 at 11:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Flemish towns are charming, from larger ones like Gent and Antwerp to smaller like Leuven and Mechelen. Hasselt was particularly serene when we visited, because everything was closed for holidays. August 20, 2015 at 12:13pm Reply

  • Michaela: Beautiful post and pictures, thank you again. You do lavender justice with your articles!
    All these herbs and flowers in Belgium heart…
    I love how many personal feelings lavender sparks. Everybody has lavender memories.
    I would grow some lavender if I had a garden, but I think nothing compares to a visit to lavender fields. Simply divine. August 20, 2015 at 5:28am Reply

    • Karen: It’s beautiful grown in pots, so a sunny window or porch/patio can be your lavender garden! August 20, 2015 at 6:08am Reply

      • Michaela: Thank you, Karen! All my windows are sunny. I’ll certainly give it a try. August 20, 2015 at 6:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Belgium is small, but it has lots to offer. I really think that it’s one of the most interesting and one of the most underrated countries in Europe. I guess I like to root for the underdog. And lavender too, which is often unfairly branded as cheap and boring. 🙂 And it is not at all. August 20, 2015 at 12:14pm Reply

      • limegreen: I do think Belgium is somewhat off the radar.
        My first trip to Europe was when I visited my sister in the Netherlands as a college student, and it was recommended that I start my European backpacking trip with a “practice” trip to Belgium as it was safe, clean and easy to get around! I only got to Brussels and Bruges but it was a lasting impression, though I’m afraid the only culinary impression that lasted was that french fries were served with mayonnaise! 🙂
        (I was young and did not have much money to spend on food either.) August 22, 2015 at 11:40am Reply

        • limegreen: I should amend and say that Belgium is off the radar for American tourists, that is. August 22, 2015 at 11:41am Reply

  • Neva: Again an interesting post with beautiful pictures Victoria! I have never been to lavender fields although I live in a country where lavender is cultivated (mostly on the islands) and used as a scent for closets and moth repellent as well as in natural cosmetics. The Croatian lavender, I found out, is mostly a hybrid. There are hundreds of different hybrids. On the other hand, which I find very interesting, you can find real lavander growing not cultivated in bushes in cemeteries and parks and also next to the road in some coastal areas. The smell is different, but the one I connect in my mind with “lavender” is the camphorous smell and it reminds me of my grandmother’s closet and drawers. Due to this fact, I’m not really fond of lavender perfume.
    After reading this post I think I’ll make the effort and go out and try to smell the difference. As I am at the coastside right now, it should not be a problem. Maybe I can re-tune my nose to a different kind of lavender. August 20, 2015 at 6:24am Reply

    • Victoria: There are lots of hybrids, even in Provence. Right now, I bet that they are trying to find a new disease resistant hybrid, because the fields are in a dire state.
      You’re on the coast, and the climate is perfect for all of these plants. Comparing them would be so interesting, and I bet they smell more strongly than lavender in Belgium does. After all, we get so little sun.
      Do you have wild capers growing, by the way? August 20, 2015 at 12:18pm Reply

  • Andy: This place looks heavenly! Has me itching to smell something lavender-y right now (Pour un Homme, Shalimar, even the new Thé Bleu), as my lavender out in the garden got decimated with the moist weather we had in early summer. I’ll have to try it in a container next year, so I can better control the moisture level. I also loved the lavender/lavandin discussion above–I’ve smelled lavandin oil but I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually seen the plant. August 21, 2015 at 11:26am Reply

    • Victoria: Since I’ve returned, I’ve been craving lavender scents. It’s such a wonderful place. Not a huge expanse of lavender as far as eye can see–for that, one really needs to go to France or Bulgaria, but enough to enjoy this plant.

      Lavandin is also an attractive plant. I’m not a botanist, and I can’t instantly tell it apart based on leaves and flowers alone, but the scents are very different. August 22, 2015 at 11:04am Reply

  • girasole: I love that you describe the smell of fresh, live lavender as having a toasted almond facet. I’ve always thought there was an affinity between the scents (they pair surprisingly well in baking) and it’s nice to hear my hunch affirmed!

    You describe the lavender fields so beautifully – I visited some in Norfolk, in the UK, and in Provence as a child but it’s been several years since I’ve been surrounded by fresh lavender. I need to refresh that particular memory! August 22, 2015 at 2:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: They really pair well, don’t they! I also discovered it serendipitously, and I’ve been a convert. 🙂 August 28, 2015 at 5:53am Reply

      • girasole: They really do, although I’m a complete almond lover so I’d pair it with almost anything – or at least attempt to! September 7, 2015 at 11:42am Reply

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