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.
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.
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.
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.