Sunday, 5 July 2009

Carshalton Lavender

Lavender has held a very special place in my gardening heart since I have lived in this area. A bit of digging into local history reveals that the areas round here were renowned for their lavender fields in the days before housing occupied most of the land. Mitcham, Wallington and Carshalton were all very well known for their Lavender crop, and there are still hints at that past if you look carefully at the insignia on village signs and local landmarks.

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I always tended to think of lavender as a French crop, with French lavender holding the finest reputation as the best in the world, but it wasn't always so. Apparently even the ultimate patriot, Napoleon, once commented that Carshalton Lavender could not be bettered. An accolade indeed. The chalk soil and the clement climate of the North Downs, and presumably the proximity to London make for ideal conditions for these plants. Even now, you don't have to travel far to find evidence of that legacy. Firstly, our plot is right amongst the lavender rows that are part of a local community project - Carshalton Lavender. The 2009 harvest will be held on the weekend of the 25th/26th July.

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Another local Lavender project has taken that success even further. Mayfield lavender was started by the same group, and has now become a fantastic part of the local landscape. Driving down from Woodmansterne to Carshalton at the moment, you are faced with a fantastic glimpes of purple through the trees by the roadside. We stopped off at the end of a lovely day to see what was going on, and found a coffee shop and sale of other lavender products. What a treat.

Allotment July 5th 005

You feel as if you could be in Provence, when in fact you are just outside the ring of suburbs in South London. Well worth a visit.

And yes, I really do need to go on a photography course to learn how to take proper photos.


  1. A lovely post Moyra - I love the lavendar too - I am going to make sure I get to the open day as I really enjoyed it last year. We are honoured to share our allotment site with them - its' a shame they cant get more volunteers to help out!

  2. I love being there in midsummer like this, when you can smell the lavender in the late, warm evenings. It is a shame that the volunteering has slowed down - the plants don't look as good this year as they normally do. I agree that they are a very welcome and honoured part of the Stanley Road site.

  3. I agree - the plants don't look quite the same this year, which I think is down to reduced volunteer activity.

  4. Hi Nice to see your blog. 30 years ago I had an allotment at Carshalton on the site above what is now where they grow Lavendar. We lived in Cranfield Road West but am afaraid when our daughters were born i could not keep up with the plot and then soon after we moved to Guildford.
    Lovely post and every year I mean to pop back to see the lavendar one day.

  5. How fantastic that you used to live round here once, and interesting that you knew the site before it was planted with lavender. Even though it looks well established now, it is a surprisingly young project.

    Thank you so much for leaving your comment.

  6. I love your photos, they are very romantic and atmospheric. Here at the other side of the borough, every year I hope to come over to pick lavender, but every year I am away on holiday the weekend they harvest!
    The history of my local area in Worcester Park is that it was covered in orchards, including our allotment site. It's hard to imagine it as a rural area just a hundred years ago, isn't it.

  7. I love Worcester Park. It is a lovely mix of rural-suburb and metropolitan buzz. I used to drive through every day when I worked in Kingston. I can imagine it being orchards, and it is a lovely romantic image of all these rural areas they used to be.

    In fact with all the tree lined roads and fantastic architecture, there is still a lot to see, and a lot of beautiful sights to see. But allotments do give you an insight into how beautiful they used to be when they were untouched.

  8. I've just spent an enjoyable time reading through your previous posts. Your blackcurrant cupcakes look delicious and I'm wondering if I can substitute the blackcurrants for blueberries as I have just noticed that I have some very nearly ripe.
    What a lot of work Jamie must have put in on your new plot to get it to that standard in such a short space of time.