These past few months have been a lavender grower’s dream when it comes to the weather.
The mixed bag of scorching heat, complemented by the recent downpours have been welcomed by Jan and Stuart Abernethy of Carterton’s Lavender Abbey, who have witnessed their lavender come through about three weeks earlier than usual.
It was going so successfully that the pair were forced to throw a Pick Your Own lavender day before the new year — the event usually rolls out from the middle of January
Mr Abernethy said because it had been a lot hotter at the end of the 2017, the yield and quality of the lavender oil would be “much better than last year”.
“The lavender likes a hot, dry summer, which we didn’t get last year.
“They still grow, and everything happens, but it’s just a bit slower, and the oil yield was down.”
Mrs Abernethy said the growing conditions had been so poor over the 2016/2017 summer that no one got an award for the 2017 oils from the Lavender Growers Association.
“However, we were the highest scoring though for our 2017 oil — we were 0.7 per cent off an award,” she said.
“The oils from year to year are so similar that you wouldn’t really notice unless you were an expert, but the hotter it is, the better it is for the lavender.
“In saying that though, this recent rain has actually really good for it, because it gives the lavender that extra boost after being completely hot.”
Having wowed their customers with homemade ‘lavenade’ last year, the couple have brought another yummy creation to the table — lavender fudge, made in association with Greytown business Laughing Owl Fudge.
They will be selling this, along with lavender and lemon verbena tea at their upcoming Pick Your Own Lavender events on January 13, 14, 20, and 21 at their Dalefield Rd property.
“Lavender goes everywhere with food,” Mrs Abernethy said.
“We’ve made lavender ice cream, lavender shortbread… roast lamb and pork… the shortbread is absolutely yummy and physically has the flowers in it, whereas the fudge and ice cream, you’ll be steeping the flowers in the milk and then taking them out.”
The couple have had interest from far and wide this year in the lead up to the Pick Your Own events, with a surprise promotion in the Kia Ora magazine under the events listings.
“When I first saw the magazine, I didn’t even realise we were in it until Stu pointed it out,” Mrs Abernerthy said.
But it is still Wairarapa people who make up the majority of Lavender Abbey’s customer base — most people will know the Abernethy’s from an array of Wairarapa markets held across the region.
“It’s nice to be able to talk to people at the markets, because once they understand that you are the grower just up the road, and Jan’s made all the products here in Dalefield, they engage a lot more,” Mr Abernethy said.
“You’re not just selling something that someone else grew and mass-produced.”
Lavender Abbey’s Pick Your Own days are this weekend and next weekend and run from 10am until 3pm.