Hi and welcome to Mayfield Lavender!
Well, we had been hoping for some lovely early summer sunshine, but it appears we will have to wait a bit longer! Having just completed the hand weeding of the field in mid May, the rain in the last few weeks has been good for our lavender but also great for the weeds promoted re-growth of the dreaded weeds – more weeding coming up I guess!
Sadly, Jack Frost paid a visit the third week of May and about half of the new tender flowerheads of our gorgeous English Lavender Folgate variety perished overnight – just like that! The shoots were only a couple of days old and very tender and although lavender is extremely hardy, a hard frost will damage new shoots. We understand that a second flowering may occur later in the season but we will have to hold our breath in the meantime. For those of you who know the field, the lavender affected is mostly the lavender that you see from the road, so our “purple distraction” may or may not happen!
On the positive side however, we do still have approx 17 of the 25 acres that will flower this year so please do still come and visit us. Our picnic area is also in the middle of the area unaffected by the frost so it’s looking lovely already. We will still have an abundant supply of gorgeous fresh cut lavender bunches which we shall be selling from second/third week of June. We will post exact dates on the website as soon as the lavender is ready for bunching.
Another challenge we are facing is the arrival of unwelcome visitors from abroad – aka ‘The Rosemary Beetle!’ Please see the photo below so you know what to look out for in your garden. In the last week we have started to see the beetle on the lavender flowerheads. This is a pest that has no known predator and which could gradually munch its way through the lavender unless action is taken. We received our certification from the Soil Association at the end of March this year, a process that takes 3 years so while there is an approved organic spray that we could use we are still reluctant to used this unless we really have to. Currently, we are seeking expert advice on how to deal with this pesky beetle and maintain the amazing biodiversity of the field. We are working with our local newspaper to encourage recruits to our “Beetle Busters” campaign (for details see below). Following a request by Radio 4’s Gardening Experts for live rosemary beetles, any collected beetles will be sent to a research centre to find out more about the lifecycle of the beetle.
If you would like any further advice please click here to Contact Us.
Lorna and Brendan Maye
We are also on the lookout for the dreaded Rosemary beetle. This seems to have arrived in the country from South America or Southern Europe (some debate on this point) in the past 6 years and is quietly eating Rosemary and Lavender in gardens throughout the south of England. It is not so easy to spot on the Rosemary plants as it is suitably camouflaged but on the Lavender it is very easy to spot. It tends to rise to the top of the lavender plant and can be picked off by hand very easily. Fortunately it doesn’t sting or bite and is slow moving. We hate to advise that the only solution is to kill the Beetle as it has the capacity to lay scores of eggs that will hatch into little light grey slugs with dark stripes. The adult is similar in size and shape to the ladybird but is a shiny metallic green colour with red stripes.
Beetle Busters Campaign
We are encouraging junior beetle hunters (with senior supervision of course) to catch the critters in jam jars that we provide. We have seen how the kids love the game of mini beast hunting and thought it would be a good way to dovetail the need to catch as many of these beetles as possible while at the same time teaching the children a bit about the local ecology. So if you have some time to bring your friends family or just yourself – why not have a picnic on the field and make a day trip out of it – at least its good exercise in the fresh air. We will be open daily from 10am throughout the season. Please drive into the field and collect a jam jar from the shelter by the gate to collect these pests.