Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mount Shasta Lavender Farms

One of the most spectacular summer attractions in far Northern California has got to be Mount Shasta Lavender Farms. It’s open only in June and July to coincide with the lavender bloom, but if you happen to be in the Mount Shasta area during that time, be sure to visit.

Mount Shasta Lavender Farms is located in the high desert north of Mount Shasta and east of Weed. The private drive off Harry Cash Road climbs up a steep hillside for a few miles until you reach the parking lot. The view will knock your socks off. In front of you is 14,167 ft. Mount Shasta, a massive shield volcano that is the dominant landmark in this part of California. To the right, at less than half the height of Mount Shasta, is Black Butte, the cinder cone so familiar to travelers on Interstate 5. Further to the west is the snow-covered peak of Mount Eddy, at 9,025 ft. the tallest peak in the Trinity Mountains. In my opinion, this is most impressive view of Mount Shasta because you can see it in its topographical context.

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Panoramic view from Mount Shasta Lavender Farms

By most people’s definition, Mount Shasta Lavender Farm is located in the middle of nowhere. From Weed, the sleepy town with the unforgettable name on Interstate 5, it’s a 25 minute drive east, first on Highway 97 and then on County Road A12. This area of Northern California is sparsely populated and, because of the arid climate, its natural vegetation is sparse as well. A desert rat at heart, I love the silence and remoteness of this place.

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Mount Shasta Lavender Farms is located on a sunny slope high above Shasta Valley at an elevation of 3,500 ft..

Mount Shasta Lavender Farms grows two kinds of lavender: English and French. The English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) was blooming profusely, maybe a week away from its peak. I’d say ⅔ of the fields are planted in English lavender, the rest is French lavender (presumably Lavandula dentata) which hadn’t started to bloom yet.

The lavender is grown for oil, cut flowers, dried lavender products, and also for culinary use. Most of the products sold in the gift shop are made right here on the premises, including ethereal oil, soap, sachets, etc. Lavender-scented candles are made in Redding, 1½ hours to the south.

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Rows of English lavender
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Looks just like the ‘Hidcote’ lavender in our garden
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Visitor cutting lavender
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Juniper tree at the end of a lavender field
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Juniper trees in the middle of a field of French lavender (not in bloom yet), with a row of blooming English lavender in the foreground
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Lavender rows forming interesting patterns
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Rock marking the center of the lavender maze
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Cut English lavender

I remember visiting Mount Shasta Lavender Farms for the first time when our now 13-year old daughter was in first grade. It had only been in operation for a couple of years at the time and hardly anybody knew about it. They have done a tremendous amount of work since then, adding more fields and building a stunning gift shop that looks like it came straight from Tuscany (see photo below). I was glad to see that the parking lot was almost full this morning and that people were spending money in the gift shop. Mount Shasta Lavender Farms is such a unique place that I want it to stay open to the public for many more years to come.

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Gift shop and patio
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Cluster of terra cotta pots at the edge of the gift shop patio
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Lavender lemonade, available for free in the gift shop

The web site of Mount Shasta Lavender Farm has more information about their operation and gives driving directions. They also have an online store.

This year the season at Mount Shasta Lavender Farms runs until July 31st. They are open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Do not miss this one-of-a-kind attraction. It’s worth a detour if you happen to drive north or south on Interstate 5.

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Before leaving, one last look at a view I’ll never get tired of


Plug for one of my favorite landscape photographers, Roman Loranc, now based in Weed: If you love black-and-white photography, check out this photo taken at Mount Shasta Lavender Farm. The gift shop had a 16x20” print on display, and it took my breath away. Just like Mount Shasta Lavender Farm is a must-see destination, Roman Loranc’s photographs are must-see works of art.

A few years ago, San Francisco PBS station KQED produced a segment on Roman Loranc’s work in the Consumnes River Preserve south of Sacramento. Click here to view it.

7 comments:

  1. The lavender fields are gorgeous, comparable to the ones in southern France, but the second photo is such a spectacular backdrop! The scent must have been fab in that area :)

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  2. This is so beautiful! I wish I had a single lavender plant that looked as full and "round" as those, and they have bazillions of them!

    Thanks so much for posting!

    BTW, what does lavender lemonade taste like?

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  3. What a great post on a beautiful place to visit. Your photographs are incredible. My favorite is the lavender fields with Mt. Shasta in the background. I love the smell of lavender and it must have been intoxicating! Thank you for the visit!

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  4. Mark and Gaz, Mount Shasta does make for a beautiful backdrop, that's for sure! But the lavender fields in Provence must be a gorgeous sight to see as well. One of these days...

    Alan, the soil is very rocky and extremely well-draining, and the air is very dry. That's why lavender grows so well. In St Louis humidity is probably a big issue when trying to grow lavender.

    The lavender lemonade tasted great. I think they start out with regular pink lemonade and infuse it with fresh lavender. It's perfumy but not in a bad way.

    Candy, yes, the smell was fantastic. Not just the lavender but also the dry grass, juniper trees, and of course the mountain air in general. A truly special place.

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  5. That is so beautiful. I had the opportunity to attend a lavender festival and resembled this area minus the snow capped mountains. I wonder if this place holds lavender events. I was able to try foods with lavender and they were so good. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Dinah, welcome to my blog and thank you for your comment. It appears that Mt Shasta Lavender Farms does host special events occasionally--see http://www.mtshastalavenderfarms.com/contact.htm. A food festival would be awesome. I don't think I've ever eaten lavender-scented food, but the lavender lemonade sure was great.

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  7. My family and I visited this place in July of this year. I live about 50 miles southeast of Mt Shasta, but had never gone to the Lavender farm. What an awesome experience, including the wonderful products. They do have a website where you can buy the things they produce.

    www.mtshastalavenderfarms.com/

    If you are up that way again, be sure to visit two exceptional nurseries in Mt Shasta City. The first is "Spring Hill Nursery", at the north end of town next to the city park , which boasts the beginning of the Sacramento River, a gushing spring of cold mountain water that begins a nice creek. The nursery is full of unusual and healthy stock that endures the rugged climate of the area. It has delightful grounds and knowledgeable staff. Many outsiders travel to buy here. At the south end of town is "Native Grounds", equally as interesting and full of hardy stock, a pond shop and year round florist.
    Our growing season, without freezing, is about 3 months out of the year, sometimes less. So one becomes very fond of truly hardy perrenials such as delphiniums and peonies. Lavender also, many varieties.
    So nice to find the Lavender farm here!

    Lucinda

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