Diaries

The Story Behind The Scent

February 28, 2021 3 min read

The Story behind the Scent.

 Our Ladybird Lavender Oil is unique to Castle Farm –  bred and carefully trialed over the past two decades. During this time our family has been dedicated to selecting a Lavender variety that is ideally suited to growing on our chalky Kent soils and producing a magical fragrance.

So how did it happen?!

Lavender was first planted at Castle Farm in 1998 to produce essential oils and replace the income from our commercial hops, previously grown for beer, but suffering poor hop prices. This was long before the Instagram age, and any opportunity to share our colourful fields for walks and picnics.

In 2001, in partnership with a local plant breeder, genetic crosses were made between existing lavender varieties. The resultant seeds were germinated to produce 200 completely new varieties, each one different from the next. Laboratory analysis determined the oil characteristics of every one of the original 200 and led to the selection of 16 promising candidates.

Next, field plot trials were established at three separate locations, all carefully harvested by hand every July for laboratory scale distillation. Annual assessments of growth habitat, flowering character, oil yields and oil quality identified two Lavender candidates to undergo large scale commercial trials at Castle Farm from 2012.

 

It was critically important to test these varieties on our farm, next to our existing varieties, so we could compare results from the same soil, sunshine levels, and harvesting schedules. At this stage… our two trial varieties were glamorously named “Alpha’ and ‘Beta’! (If you have ever been on one of our summer Lavender Tours, you would have most likely visited these trial varieties in our large Park Field).

Look closely in the image below and you can see several different 'hues' of purple depicting different varieties. 

After multiple visits from professional ‘noses’ and Parisian fragrance house experts….. we settled on the clear winner…. and chose the variety for future production on Castle Farm.

So, after 20 years of careful research and development, we are finally growing an English bred lavender variety and producing unique essential oils with an impressive fragrance profile!

But… How do you then name a brand-new Lavender?!

We put our thinking hats on… and (no joke), I think the process took about 12 months! We finally settled on ‘Ladybird’. Not only does this name depict a widely liked and friendly little bug (which does valuable work in hop gardens, vineyards and rose gardens by eating aphid pests!), but has a special connection to Castle Farm…… 

Caroline’s father was the editor of Ladybird Books, and developed the Key Reading Scheme with lovely illustrations, from which so many people learnt to read with ‘Peter and Jane’!  ‘Ladybirds’ were a very important part of Caroline’s childhood and upbringing and now continue to play an important role at Castle Farm! Caroline even features in many of the illustrations - namely on the front cover of 'Magnets, Bulbs and Batteries'! 

  

Ladybird Lavender Oil is a truly special essential oil, described as exceptionally rounded, soft and florally distinct. The scent is smooth, warm and outstandingly relaxing!

You can buy the pure oil direct from Castle Farm online or using our new click & collect service. We now use this great variety oil in our natural soaps and Lavender Hand Sanitiser.

If you would like to visit Castle Farm during the Lavender season, please book a ticket (after release online) and come along to enjoy one of our BYO Lavender Picnic events, at which you will be able to enjoy our Ladybird Lavender plants first hand – walking between the rows and inhaling the soothing scent!

We look forward to welcoming you to our family farm soon.

Any questions about Ladybird Lavender? Just ask us! hello@castlefarmkent.co.uk.



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