About Essence de Provence
I’ve always found the French language enchanting, but after my first visit in 1994, I knew that there was something special about Provence. I could not get over the beautiful countryside, the light and intense colors that Van Gogh captured in his
paintings, and the warmth and “joie de vivre” exuded in the daily life of the people. I brought back a dried lavender bouquet. The beautiful flowers and memorable scent made this the perfect souvenir of my new favorite place.
I had the idea to import lavender and started out buying provencal fabrics and flowers and making small pillows. On my second visit I asked a local where I could take the best photos of fields of lavender. The directions sent me down a passing through a farmers yard. A woman was out in the field giving us a suspicious look. We continued on to the end of the lane but on our way back I stopped and got out to speak with her. I asked if it was her field and she said it was. Could I take some photographs? Yes I could. Then she asked me if I would like to have a fresh bouquet cut from her field as a souvenir. This was a magic moment..... I then asked her if she would ever consider selling and shipping her bouquets to the US. She had never done it, but could figure it out. They had just gotten their first fax machine. I got her number and returned home inspired and determined to find a buyer for her lavender.
Eventually I found a contact interested in buying large amount of bouquets that had a contract with Crate and Barrel to make lavender wreaths. Without a purchase order, contract or even a hand shake, I went ahead and ordered the bouquets, figured out the international shipping and in a few months had a large garage full of french lavender bouquets. I never heard from the "wreath maker" again. So I asked a florist friend if she would teach me how to make a lavender wreath....et voila, this instinctual decision became my business. Thousands of wreaths later, I still enjoy working with my hands and never tire of the look and scent of french lavender. That was 1996 and I continue to receive an annual shipment to my warehouse/atelier to this day.
The lavender is harvested by hand with a sickle at the peak of flowering, usually the 2nd week in July. It is then dried naturally for months in an old stone barn. In September it is boxed and shipped overseas. Not all lavender is this color. this farm has won numerous awards for it's very blue color. The farmer "selects" wild blue plants and propogates and develops these amazing fields of blue. It still amazes me that no dyes or perfumes are added and that this rich hue occurs naturally.
Cleopatra dabbed lavender oil on her wrists, our grandmothers stashed sachets in their glove drawers and today lavender is still all the rage. From oversized pillows filled with lavender, to square lavender wreaths to body butters and solid lotions, we find endless ways to enjoy the fresh clean scent and the aromatherapeutic properties of this magical plant.
I feel very fortunate to be able to share my interest in herbs, the French culture and language and these great products with so many others who share my passion. The last few years we have even added an annual small group tour of the region to see the lavender fields at their peak. Lavender is the Essence of Provence.
Essence de Provence has been featured in the following publications: House Beautiful, Lucky, In Style, Victoria, Town & Country and been a vendor for Gardener's Eden, Brookstone, Better Homes & Gardens, Plough and Hearth, Gardener's Supply and French Country Living.
Essence de Provence 2720 Washington Blvd Suite B, Arlington, VA 22201 (202) 746-8200