Story and photos by guest-blogger Barbara Hanna, City of Sequim | VisitSunnySequim.com
Summer in Sequim, Washington has its own special fragrance. You know it as soon as you open your car door, go for a walk, or step onto a farm. It’s the sweet scent of lavender floating on the summer breeze. Take a deep breath and relax, you’ve arrived in the Lavender Capital of North America®.
The History of Sequim Lavender
The lavender fields in Sequim have been blooming since the mid-1990s. The first fields were planted after a sub-committee of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce, looking for a new crop to preserve farmland and inspire visitors to the area, discovered that lavender would thrive in the Mediterranean type conditions found in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley. Due to a rain shadow created by the Olympic Mountains, Sequim’s annual average rainfall of 16” makes it one of the driest places in western Washington and perfect for a sustainable lavender crop.
Visiting the Unique Farms
Initially there were five lavender farms planted throughout the valley. Today there are over two dozen lavender farms and businesses in the Sequim area. As you visit these family-owned farms, you’ll find that they all have their own character and personality, reflecting the vision of the owners. Each one offers a unique experience but all of them will captivate your senses with the beauty of the flowering plants, the hum of the honey bees at work, and, of course, that enchanting fragrance.
Many of the farms distill essential oil to use in their hand-crafted products. Most offer u-pick so visitors can take a bundle of fresh lavender home with them. And many of the farms have giftshops on their property, along with some in Downtown Sequim, full of unique and therapeutic home, bath & body, and culinary products including lavender honey made by all those busy bees at work in the field.
Different varieties of lavender begin blooming at different times. You’ll see the bright waving flags of Lavandula stoecha or Spanish lavenders as early as spring, but the more common species of angustifolia, often known as English Lavender, and the hybrid lavandins typically come into their peak in July.
Sequim Lavender Weekend
Sequim Lavender Weekend is held the third weekend in July, the 19th – 21st in 2019, and celebrates all things lavender with a world-class street fair at Sequim’s largest park, lavender farm festivals and events, and a host of community activities including art shows, a quilt show, and concerts to appeal to all visitors. There is so much to see and do, you’ll want to plan on attending for more than one day. Visitsunnysequim.com will have all the Lavender Weekend details and all the information you need to plan your trip. The website is updated as activities finalize, so check back often for the latest information. Now is a good time to make your plans as local lodging can fill up early.
Visiting During the Extended Season
Can’t make it during Sequim Lavender Weekend? No worries, many of the farms are open spring to early fall and welcome visitors throughout the season. You might catch the owners working in the field, making new products, harvesting and processing the lavender plants, distilling essential oil, or offering special events and educational programs. Please visit the individual farm websites for their schedules.
Whenever you visit, you’ll learn more about this ancient and versatile herb and leave with the fragrant memories of the sweet scent of Sequim lavender.