With the 2015 Lavender Festival coming up this weekend (June 12-14th) thought I’d share the experience of my Hill Country road trip to Blanco, Texas where I attended the Annual Blanco Lavender Festival a couple of years ago. The town of Blanco (which means “white” in Spanish) was named for the limestone hills and banks along the river there. On my way up highway 281 I enjoyed the view of the hills, orchards, wineries, and even a few deer crossing the road. This was my first time visiting Blanco; usually I just pass right through. I was so amazed at how much beauty this little town has, from the Blanco River running through it to the small downtown strip of antique shops, local restaurants, and other small businesses.
With the event being packed, I was fortunate to find a great parking spot on Main Street, my first stop (right across the street from where we parked & not on the festival grounds) was at the Blanco River Lavender Company booth, these lovely ladies were setting up and getting everything ready for the fest. I then made my way to the information booth at the festival (where I couldn’t help but buy a Lavender Fest themed t-shirt, cap, & lunch bag), which was located on the grounds of the Old Blanco County Courthouse. There I was greeted by some of the sweet local women of Blanco. They were very helpful in giving me the best way to schedule visiting the farms and enjoying the fest all in one day. As excited as I was to visit the farms, I was sadly informed that only 3 out of 8 lavender farms made it that year due to the drought of the year prior. Hearing news such as that made me really look forward to visiting the farms; I made it to 2 of them. As I walked towards the fest booths, it was kind of hard to choose where to start. Everything smelled so good and looked interesting to see. Lots of art, crafts, food vendors, music, local beer, Texas & Lavender specialty foods…you wouldn’t know where to begin either! But being the “spa junkie” that I am, the first thing that caught my eye was a booth filled with lavender products!
At Heron’s Nest Herb Farms’ booth, I met farmer, Mrs. Melanie Van Aken, not only did she have her products (lavender bath & body, pet care, & home care) for retail; she was also selling lavender cookies, brownies, and lavender tea. The 2nd stop was Wimberley Lavender Farm’s booth, gorgeous cobalt blue bottles filled with lavender spa products & homemade soaps; I was like a kid in a candy store! Other nearby fest goers were enjoying the Lavender Lemonade that was at the booth. Still walking through the fest, I was approached to try this lavender bubbly adult beverage, though it may have been 11:00am, how could I say no to a glass of fizzy, sparkling purple stuff! Besides, its always 5 o’clock somewhere! While sipping on my lavender mimosas (made with Miller Creek Lavender Margarita Mix) the Sanaloma Laser booth caught my eye. I have to say I was quite impressed with their work. The Georgetown, Texas Company creates all kinds of really cool 3D wooden models. They are great gifts for all ages; you must check out their online store. Another booth I enjoyed was San Antonio’s very own Photo2wood. They use state of the art equipment to turn your photos into a wooden masterpiece. The festival was not only packed with vendors of all sorts, it also had many special guests speakers (including Jeannie Ralston, founder of Hill Country Lavender, the first lavender farm in Texas, and author of “The Unlikely Lavender Queen” ) educating on the history, uses, growing tips, and how to cook with lavender.
Lush Lavender Learning
Being in the beauty & spa industry for 20 years, I have become a huge fan of lavender, I use it just about every day. Not only does its soothing aroma make my clients happy, it also has many benefits. It’s used in many beauty products, so you can see why I am such a fan of this little purple bloom. Lavender has therapeutic and antiseptic qualities, it’s known as an effective remedy to combat restlessness, insomnia, cure headaches, ease anxiety, soothe stress, and promote relaxation. The lavender herb is also used for bug bites, burns, skin disorders, to relieve itching, rashes, and reduce swelling. Another lavender fact is that it is also an effective cleanser when added to bath water and for washing hair. It is claimed that lavender, due to its antibacterial and antifungal qualities, kills head lice and other scalp infections. Hence, lavender is seen to be effective in combating balding and promoting hair growth. Also, the lavender herb has been effectively used as an antiseptic for the treatment of acne. Another use for lavender is as a floor cleaner, and also for cleaning counter surfaces and bathrooms. Again, it works effectively due to its antiseptic and antibacterial properties and it also gives out a pleasant fragrance to cleaned surfaces. Now you know why you see many cleaning products on the market that are lavender infused.
Texas Fields of Lavender
Native to the Mediterranean, (Latin root name: Lavandula. Lavare (to wash) Livendula (livid or bluish)) Lavender, is grown all over the world, lucky us, it’s right here in our beautiful Hill Country. The first farm I visited was Miller Creek Lavender. The farm offers 3 acres of lavender, a variety garden with over 70 varieties, butterfly garden, blackberries, picnic tables/benches, granite sand trails, plenty of parking, and a gift shop filled with lavender food products, lavender bath and body products, books, pottery, t-shirts, ball caps, and much more. There was even lavender colored port o’potties with a hand washing station, which I thought was pretty cool. Owners Karen & Don Roets were very welcoming and had a spread of their lavender edible goodies. We tasted Lavender Strawberry Lemonade, Lavender Strawberry Jam (I liked this so much we took some home, Yummy!), Lavender Raspberry Chipotle Salsa, Lavender White Wine Jelly, & Lavender Jalapeño Mustard, each had their own unique flavors. Tasting all these Texas treats and enjoying the view of the lavender farm, made them even more enjoyable. Remember that lavender bubbly I drank at the fest? I found the Lavender Margarita Mix it’s made with…yes, you know a bottle of the purple pleasure went home with me.
The next farm I visited was Texas’ 1st Commercial Lavender Farm. Another beautiful sight to see, this farm is next to an orchard, and has an amazing view of hills and live oaks. The farm has more than 2,500 lavender plants spread in neat rows across a 2 acre hilltop where visitors are invited to cut their own lavender throughout the season. Their farm store carries a complete line and over 70 of lavender products, including soaps, sachets, lotion, linen spray, eye pillows, bubble bath, lavender essential oil, & much more. I think I did the most damage at this store! I even offered Lavender Facials at my studio when I returned to San Antonio. I thought I’d see how well my “green-thumb” would do and bought my own lavender plant at this farm for my yard; they even give you growing easy to follow instructions when you purchase a plant. The girl who rung up my goodies said the lavender plant survives off neglect. I have never been the gardening type of girl, so there is a good chance of my lavender plant living forever.
The River Runs Through It
After my lavender adventure, the lavender kicked in and was surely relaxed. To continue with my relaxing day, I visited the Blanco State Park. The park is 104.6 acres located along the Blanco River in Blanco County. The land was deeded by private owners in 1933 before the park was opened in 1934. The park area was used as a campsite by early explorers and settlers. A spring in the park made the location ideal when the river was dry. This park is very well kept and clean; I enjoyed sitting in the picnic area under shady oak and pecan trees watching geese, ducks, and saw a couple of turtles and perch. There’s nothing more relaxing than being by the water, even more so under the influence of lavender. Since my family loves the outdoors, we visit this park quite often now for camping, hiking, fishing, and of course swimming. This is a perfect weekend spot for families; the park also rents canoes, tubes, and kayaks.
Time to go Home
This was by far one of my best road trips. Texas has many small secret scenic places and Blanco is definitely one of them. Who needs France, when we have our own Lavender Farms here in the Hill Country? There is something for everyone in Blanco, fishing for the outdoorsman, antique shopping for you treasure hunters, hill country hiking for you thrill seekers, and lots of great picture spots for photographers. I enjoyed all it had to offer, the Lavender Festival was the bonus. Support your fellow Texans by trying some of the lavender goodies & purchasing their products. Below is the information of the vendors I met when I attended the fest. Looking forward to this year’s Lavender festival; hope to see some of you there. <3
Blanco Chamber of Commerce
312 Pecan Street
Blanco, Texas 78606
115 Main Street
Blanco, Texas 78606
Blanco River Lavender Company
4136 Ranch Road 1623 Blanco, Texas 78606
Heron’s Nest Herb Farm
1673 River Bend Drive
Blanco, Texas 78606
Miller Creek Lavender
8453 Miller Creek Loop
Johnson City, Texas 78636
Wimberley Lavender Farm
11300 FM 2325 Wimberley, Texas 78676
SanaLoma Laser, LLC
(512) 930-3882 5203 Taos Court Georgetown, Texas 78628-1745
Jeannie Ralston: The Unlikely Lavender Queen
Blanco State Park
P.O. Box 493
Blanco, TX 78606