The IHA post-conference fieldtrip went to Virginia. One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to Blooming Hill Lavender Farm with an herbal lunch catered by Kim Labash, proprietress of Loudon Valley Herbs. Blooming Hill is a tiny “farmlet” owned by Cyndie and Peter Rinek and situated on four acres in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge in Western Loudoun County, Northern Virginia. The Rineks are collectors of many things besides lavender as you can see in the photos of their farm in Purcellville, Virginia.
Blooming Hill is a delightful venue to hold an event, and hosts Cyndie and Peter hold lots of them from their annual Lavender Festival to parties, receptions and social gathering. (https://www.bloominghillva.com)The outdoor gardens are both elegant and whimsical and the house is home to many collections from blue and white roosters on the stoop to turquoise blue spatterware. There is something lovely or unusual to look at at every turn.
A few of us arrived a bit early before the bus, so we had the garden to ourselves and were able to have a great walkabout in the lavender beds and other garden plots full of herbs and vegetables, flowers and shrubs, before the rain came. The collection of over 600 lavender plants in almost fifty different varieties are tended throughout the property. I count nearly 100 cultivars of lavender on Cyndie’s list–and I was especially excited to find a single plant of Lavandula ‘Susan Belsinger’ also known as ‘Short and Sweet’ named by my dear friend Thomas DeBaggio back in the 1990s. This plant is a bit hard to grow–I’ve lost a number of them–it seems to do much better on the lavender farms in our American Northwest, however the Rineks have managed to keep one alive. I was also delighted to see ‘Sleeping Beauty’ also known as Lavandula ‘Carolyn Dille’ and Tucker’s Early Purple named for our friend and colleague Art Tucker.
Kim Labash, of Loudon Valley Herbs is a class act–her catered lunch was beautfiul to the eye and very tasty. After appetizers on the porch, we moved indoors for a lunch of Garden Gazpacho with Rosemary Focaccia; Tossed Green Salad with Edible Flowers and Herbs, Tabbouleh with Mint; Chicken Marbella or veggie option of Curried Carrot Slaw with Avocado and Pea Shoot Pita Pockets. The Grand Finale was two flavors of Blooming Hill’s homemade ice cream–blueberry-lavender and rose-lavender–served with Kim’s Petticoat Tail of Lavender Shortbread. Kim and Cyndie make a great team for putting on an herbal affair. ([email protected])
After browsing the gardens, we set off down the drive to the darling little gift cottage, which was surrounded by all sorts of statuary and plants for sale. Inside the fragrance of lavender prevailed. There were home grown and gathered lavender products as well as handmade natural wreaths, unique plants and everlastings, and garden décor collected especially for the garden enthusiast, not to mention bundles of lavender spikes–short, fat, tall and thin, in every hue of lavender. If you get the chance, a visit to Blooming Hill is well worth the drive–check the Web site for hours as they are only open on the weekends from April to December, or by appointment.