Updated: May 13, 2020
Your lavender plants are not dead!
Have faith dear lavender grower. I write to you in the midst of a large chore; I am chopping and lopping off every last bit of top growth on 400 well established lavender plants. Typically this time of year there is nothing but a quick buzz cut shearing to be done to clean up some of last year's secondary blooming and shaggy winter leafage. Some of the branches I am cutting through are an inch or so thick.
This is of course disheartening and I speak to my sweet plants as I perform this decapitation: 'I acknowledge all this experience you have formerly expressed over the last 7 years. You have done so well. But these branches now represent the past. As I remove them, and all plants are being treated exactly the same (socialism at its finest), I recognize that there are green shoots, new growth bursting forth from the base, at the root level which tells me we have a solid, strong, resilient foundation. We have been here before, in different ways, but the previous hardship prepared us for where we find ourselves right here, right now. In order for this new life to shine forth-beam its light into the world we must jettison all the old and heavy accumulations. They can serve us no longer and in fact get in the way of our potential. That old growth is calcified, heavy weight but deep inside at its base is all that experience and we only need trust in the innate process of Almighty Nature. Let her take over, here, Just Let Go of this old tired stuff.'
I cannot help but realize as I tell my plants this that I am assuring myself and dosing on my own advice. I am gobsmacked at the way the plants echo what occurs in this present day physical existence for humans. We are living amidst a very strange time on this beautiful planet. A big reset button has been pressed.
There have been moments in this past month (writing to you on the 20 April 2020) when I, myself have felt as inconsequential as the dead branches I am lopping. All the experience of the past two decades seemingly for nought. Some really dark moments lodged in my person dragging me into depths of depression that I tought I'd bid farewell to from 2009 and again from 2015. It has been most unpleasant. But here again these lavender plants remind me with their resilience that if I can just let go of the old shit, if I can BE PRESENT, if I can trust in the the inherent energy - the fire, the utter magic that is renewal and forward motion, growth; I need not control it, just let it happen, all is well. How will you know if your plants suffered this top growth death as mine have? They should be greening up now. You may be seeing splotches of green amidst grey leaves. The grey leaves, this time of year (and I write to you from 2790' elevation; if you are farming at a higher elevation your plants may not show green leaves until well into May, so you have a waiting game,) indicate dead branches. I will discuss why one branch could be dead right next to a live one in a furture blog post or you can find it in the pages (74-75 and 14) of my book Lavender Farming: Secrets from a Hard Row Hoed.
These dead branches won't come back to life, though they may try. But in the trying (bless 'em) the plant wastes energy that might otherwise be put to use in reviving the growth coming from the roots to restart the plant as a whole.
My process for removing this dead frass (yes, that is my word and you know what I mean) is to start at the top of the plant, go deep into the base of it with a sharp and well oiled set of long handl