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Get Out of Town, | May 16, 2016

Purple haze

Experience the sight and scent of lavender at Willowfield Lavender Farm.

Fresh lavender blossoms at Willowfield Lavender Farm. The owners, the O'Connors, have been growing lavender for more than 15 years. /photo courtesy of Willowfield Lavender Farm

Nestled away in a small neighborhood in Mooresville, Willowfield Lavender Farm, Indiana’s oldest lavender farm, offers an unexpected sight at a classic Mediterranean plant. For the past 15 years, Elizabeth and Kieran O’Connor have been growing and producing organic lavender on their four-acre field, a difficult task in a climate like Indiana’s.

Kieran wanted to find an enjoyable job after retiring from the Indianapolis Fire Department, so he chose to pursue farming. The couple’s prior interest in gardening and lavender presented the perfect opportunity for growth.

“It just grabbed ahold of me,” Elizabeth says. “We just keep planting and growing. We love the plant.”

Grab a glass of lavender tea, take a walk around the grounds or relax on the porch. Either way, be sure to breathe in the sweet scent that wafts through the air.

Where is it?

6176 E. Smokey View Road, Mooresville, about 20 miles south of downtown Indianapolis.

When are they open?

Opening day is Saturday, May 14.

Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visit from mid-June to mid-July to catch the lavender at full bloom.

What can I do there?

Visitors can explore the four-acre farm, complete with a gazebo, or browse through the products for sale in the barn-turned-boutique. Products include greeting cards, sachets, linen and body sprays and blended teas, many of which are handmade by Elizabeth. Small bags and bundles of lavender are also available for purchase. The O’Connors’ patio, constructed from a 120-year-old barn and refurbished wood, welcomes visitors to sit back and relax.

Willowfield is also a popular spot for weddings and baby showers. The wedding tree provides the perfect backdrop for photos. Many brides enjoy picking lavender to include in their event.

“It’s a very quiet and peaceful place,” Elizabeth says. “People thank us for having that peace.”

How much will it cost?

The entrance is free. During the summer, Willowfield offers its summer concert series for $5 a person. “Talk and walks,” an opportunity to hear the O’Connors tell the story of their lavender farm, are also offered for $2 a person.

Three rules to growing lavender

Lavender can be difficult to grow in Indiana because of the wet and variable climate, so here are three tips to help your garden flourish.

1. Lavender is a full-sun plant, requiring a minimum of six hours of sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. “There is no compromise on this.”

2. It needs warm, well-drained soil. It can’t sit in water or it will rot.

3. It needs sweet soil, meaning it is chalky or alkaline and has a pH about 7.0. Willowfield recommends preparing the soil with a base of limestone for draining as well as sweetening the soil.

How to use lavender

You can use lavender oils or sachets in many different ways.

  • Rub fresh lavender flowers or oil on the body to repel insects while outside.
  • Rub lavender oil on the temples or the palms and inhale the scent to ease headaches.
  • Use the oil and scent as a sleep aid.
  • Add lavender oil to tea or lemonade to enhance the flavor.

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