Meli’s Lavender Farm

One of the newest small lavender operations in Sequim is Meli’s Lavender Farm. But in the universe of lavender, it’s no newcomer. It is an expansion of Victor’s Lavender and is owned by Victor Gonzalez and his brother and sister-in-law, Sergio and Monica Gonzalez. Victor is one of Sequim’s most expert growers and consults internationally on lavender cultivation.

The new farm adds 1,000 plants to Victor’s current operation of 150 varieties and over 3,500 plants. Victor’s wife, Mirabel, makes more than 30 lavender products. The expansion is an attempt to keep up with high demand for his plants and products.

I visited Victor’s original farm at the Lavender Festival two years ago here and found him very engaging. He has an interesting history with lavender and has been an important source of information and plants for the Sequim Valley and beyond.

Earnings from the new operation, Meli’s Lavender Farm, will go toward the education of Victor’s niece, Melissa, at Western Washington University. The farm is located on West Diane Drive off Elizabeth Lane which intersects with Old Olympic Highway about a quarter mile west of North Fifth Avenue.

Purple Haze

Purple Haze is a big lavender operation at the east end of Sequim. There are over 15,000 plants of more than 50 varieties of lavender, according to their website. In addition to the shop you see here in the distance there is a a vacation rental onsite and a retail store in downtown Sequim.

The farm is beautiful in every direction.

Purple Haze is one of several large lavender farms that charge admission during the Lavender Festival later this week. The farm will host craft vendors as well as live music. Food and drink is sold on site, including several ice cream flavors made with lavender. Smaller farms around Sequim are open at no charge.

The owner of Purple Haze is ready to retire and has put the operation up for sale for over $3 million.

Jardin du Soleil

I made preview trips to two of Sequim’s biggest lavender operations yesterday. Jardin du Soleil, shown here, has lovely fields on rolling hillsides and beautiful vistas of the surrounding area. At the end of this week the open areas between the fields shown here will have crafts and food vendors as part of our annual Lavender Festival.

The gardens have a beautiful, manicured air. And on a warm afternoon that air is softly scented with lavender.

Jardin du Soleil has a gift shop which sells its lavender essences and lavender scented products.

Sequim Lavender Festival, also known as the Lavender Weekend, runs from Friday, July 21 through Sunday, July 23. Most of our local growers will be open for visitors and will sell u-pick lavender, lavender plants (there are dozens of varieties), and products.

Patience in a pot

Today is the second and last day of the Dungeness Bonsai Society annual bonsai fest, its 41st. If you’re local and would like to walk through a miniature forest of trees as art, it’s worth a trip to the Sequim Pioneer Park. The Satsuki Azalea above, over 20 years old, is one of the showiest examples of the art.

Bonsai artists confine trees in small pots and manipulate them through pruning and shaping. The effect, over time, is to create a gorgeous miniature tree.

This Japanese garden juniper is from 20 to 25 years old. Its owner began training its growth habits in 1994. This is a discipline of great patience.

There are more than 50 trees on display today, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The park is located at 387 East Washington Street.

Race to Alaska

The third annual Race to Alaska (R2AK) kicked off at 5 a.m. last Thursday as 64 vessels large and small left Port Townsend, headed first to Victoria B.C. and eventually, for many, to Ketchikan, Alaska. The race structure is straightforward: “No motor, no support, all the way to Alaska.”

We were in Port Townsend on Wednesday as many of the boats arrived and people readied for an evening “Ruckus” sendoff event. Entrants ranged from standup paddleboards and kayaks to rowing boats and sailing crafts of all types. Smaller vessels generally entered for the first 40-mile Victoria leg only. The entire race is 750 miles, give or take, depending on capriciousness of the wind.

Can you see the three pedaling setups here? Sailors don’t always rely on wind alone.

Winds picked up on Thursday and boat were scattered across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and up into Oak Bay east of Victoria. Two rowers arrived first in Victoria on Thursday. Tomorrow 41 of the entrants will leave Victoria destined for Ketchikan. According to the R2AK website, the race can be finished in anywhere from four days to never.

The race website is entertaining, full of information, and includes a tracker which follows each of the boats. Here’s an excerpt:

“What is the best boat for R2AK?
Great question. We have no idea. We intentionally picked the start date because the winds are of unpredictable strength and duration. There is an ongoing debate on whether the optimal boat will favor sail, oars, or paddles. From the conversations we’ve had, usually sailors are scared of the rowers, rowers are scared of the sailors, and kayakers don’t seem to be scared of anything. Our best advice is to choose a boat design based on your skills, then go for it.”

Fused, fired, and stained

Sequim’s new Civic Center has exhibit space on its ground floor where local artistry is showcased. The latest art in rotation is various forms of glassworks. The fused piece above, “Under the Sea,” is by Marilyn Brock.

“Running Horses,” above, is by Cindy Fager. It features both glass and rock.

This stained glass piece is called “Butterfly Lady” and was created by Millie Harrell.

The butterflies on this piece stand out from the glass, giving it more dimension than typical stained glass.

There are about two dozen pieces in the exhibit which is on view through March 31. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Crabbing around

crabbing-1

If you like crab this is the weekend for you. Port Angeles, Sequim’s next door neighbor, is hosting its 15th annual Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival. There was lots of crabbing activity yesterday at the John Wayne Marina and I suspect much of it was destined for the festival.

Besides many seafood vendors the weekend event has music, a craft fair, cooking demonstrations and a chowder cook-off. This is one of the last big outdoor events before it’s time to go inside and stay warm.