Today I want to tell you about a Lavender Farm in Southern New South Wales Australia called Mt Darragh Lavender, and about their distillation process. It is owned by Stephen and Carol O’Brien they started planting in 1998, now having about 2500 plants in the ground. They grow Lavender a large vegetable garden and nearly 100 fruit trees, they use all Organic growing practices caring for their Plants, Animals and the Earth.
It is summer in the southern hemisphere and they are busy harvesting and distilling at the moment. In the field they grow 7 varieties Yulong, Eugowra now known as ‘Cookie’, Munstead, Grosso, Super, Miss Donnington and Margret. They also have a range of others in their display garden. The variety of Lavender we will be discussing is ‘Grosso’ originally discovered in France. It is disease resistant and has a high yield of quality essential oil. It is a naturally occurring hybrid of Lavender called Lavandin. It is a cross between Lavandula angustifolia Lavandula latifolia.
The oil of Lavender is produced by the plant while the flower bud (calyx) is forming. This process occurs when the sun comes out and warms the plant, causing it to perspire. This essential oil collects in small glands located in grooves on the outside of the calyxes. For maximum oil yield, the Lavender is harvested at late flowering stage. Noel porter from the Crop and Research Center in New Zealand says the best time to cut for oil production is when 1/3 of the blooms are finished, 1/3 open and the last 1/3 yet to open. Steve and Carol cut the blooms by hand with a scythe until they have enough to fill their distillation vessel.
The extraction of essentials oils from the Lavender can be done with the use of an open-system distillation process, this is the way O’Brien’s distill. This process maintains the steam pressure at or just slightly above atmospheric pressure (0 psig). The temperature of the steam is at the boiling point of water, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit, 100 degrees Celsius.
To begin, the Lavender flowers are put into a distillation vessel with a tight-closing lid. The tight lid is to prevent the loss of steam and oil, not to maintain pressure. A steam generator produces steam which is piped through tubing into the distillation vessel holding the Lavender. As the steam flows through the vessel, the oil is released into the steam and carried to a condenser. In the condenser, the steam and oil mixture is cooled condensing it back into a liquid state. From the condenser, the water and oil collect in the separator. Oil, being lighter than water, it floats to the top. Once distillation is complete, the lavender essential oil is removed from the separator and is ready to be stored until it is ready. The O’Brien’s usually store there oil from one to two years before it is sold. This time is necessary for the oil to mature.
Produced in this distillation of the ‘Grosso’ flowers, is the Lavendin oil and the Lavendin floral water also called Hydrosol. According to Sylla Sheppard-Hanger in her ‘The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual’ the oil is an antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, powerful antispasmodic (muscular contraction sedative), anti-infectious, analgesic, antiseptic, cicatrizant, cardiotonic, expectorant, fungicide, hyotensive nervine, tonic, vulnerary. This variety of the Lavandula family is better suited for muscular, respiratory, circulatory problems than the true Lavandula angustifolia (usually called English Lavender) which is known for its relaxing qualities.
As an Aromatherapist and working with Lavender for over 20 years I find that Lavandin’s are relaxing to the nerves, and also stimulating to the brain. For the emotions my favorite way to use ‘Grosso’ is for Loss, the pain we feel in the Heart from loss of a Loved one, pet, divorce or job, elec. I also like to put a few drops of ‘Grosso’ oil in a cleaning bucket when I wash the house, it refreshes the rooms and cleans up the negative energy.
Aroma Journey is proud to carry ‘Grosso’ Lavandin from Mt Darragh Lavender Farm. I have smelled and used oils from all over the world and this is a top notch product. It is available in bulk quantities, 35ml, 125ml, 500ml. Check out our shopping cart for the highest quality essential oils and lowest prices.
Mt Darragh is open by appointment during harvest season; they also have available dried and fresh bundles, plus a large range of other products. Give Carol or Stephen a call (61) 02 6458 2001