When I was about seven years old, my family traveled to England to visit my grandparents.
Let me back up now and say that I have mostly foggy memories of my childhood, and I really remember very little from before I was ten or eleven.
But I remember England. I remember it vividly, with lots of details. I remember the house my grandparents lived in, the walls and the doors and the doorknobs. I remember the shops we went to, and the day trips we took. I remember Stonehenge and Clovelly. But what I remember most was the beautiful terraced garden that my grandparents kept, the flowers and herbs and berries, and the little stream that ran through the edge of it.
It was magical, and I don’t say that lightly.
I remember one day picking lavender with my grandmother in the garden – dozens of long stems of flowers – and taking them to the table where we had eaten breakfast that morning. My brother and sister and I watched as my grandmother carefully folded the flowers over, and then wove ribbons through the stems, capturing the flowers in the middle, creating lavender sachets for us. (They looked very much like these once she was done.) Then the children got to make our own. They weren’t as nice as my grandmother’s, but you could still roll them between your palms the way she did, and the smell was intoxicating. Your hands would smell of lavender for hours afterwards.
I’ve had a profound love of lavender ever since, both for the smell and for the magical memories it evokes. When I saw the WordPress Photo Challenge Nostalgia, I knew instantly what that meant to me. Lavender. England. That smell.
Sadly, as an adult, I have not had much luck growing lavender, though I’ve never given up. The not very impressive lavender plant pictured above is from my garden. It’s trying, bless its little plant heart.
Happily, next year, if all goes well, I will return to England for a visit, and maybe spend some time in a genuine English garden with some genuine English lavender.