“And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom
shall be, ere while, in arid bundles bound
to lurk amidst the labours of her loom
and crown her kerchiefs witl mickle rare perfume.”
William Shenstone, The School Mistress, 1742
This past week end I attended a Lavender Tea at Magnolia Manner, in New Philadelphia Ohio and spent a delightful afternoon, despite the snow outside, celebrating everything lavender. We all know that lilac colored flower that fills the air with a delicate, sweet smell that is floral, herbal and evergreen woodsy all at the same time. But do you know some of the folklore, or superstitions behind this calming plant?
Lavender has enjoyed a long and well-documented place among human civilization as an antiseptic, a protective and love-inducing herb, and as a perfume. Ancient Egyptians used lavender in their funerary rights, and for perfuming their clothing and themselves. Cleopatra was said to have used lavender as one of her secret weapons for seduction. The Arabs, Greeks, and Romans all made ample use of lavender’s antiseptic and magical properties as well as its sweet scent. The Greeks and Romans made ample use of lavender’s stress-reducing properties to cure complaints related to excess mental stimulation, including migraine headaches and insomnia. They also capitalized on lavender’s scent, trading the oils and flowers along the spice trail and carrying lavender across Europe all the way into England.
And by the way did you know…that Charles VI of France, for instance, demanded that his pillow always contain lavender so he could get a good night’s sleep, and Queen Elizabeth I of England required fresh lavender in the vases at her table every day of the year. But lavender’s history extends beyond the purely physical into the magical as well, where it was renowned as an herb for love. In magic, lavender was most often used for protection. It was said to drive off the evil eye and chase away demons and evil spirits. Made into a cross, it was hung over doorways and at the entrances to homes to protect the inhabitants against evil spirits. It has also been used in various spells, amulets, and charms to attract love. But enough of that this history and stuff – I want to get back to the afternoon tea. Let me share with you the menu that awaited us.
Spring Salad with Lavender Dressing
Blueberry, Banana and Lavender Muffins
Broccoli Cornbread bake
Lavender and Herb Quiche
Pork Tenderloin with Lavender Homey Scones
California Lavender Pasta Salad
Lavender Scones with Lavender Jelly and Cream
Chocolate Mousse with Lavender Cream
Bread Pudding with Lavender Carmel Sauce
Lavender Cream Brulle’
Lavender Black Tea & Vintage Earl Grey
Pretty good huh. But it was more than pretty good, it was absolute perfection. From the very first bite of the dainty muffin to the indescribable Lavender Cream Brulee,’ all enjoyed with many cups of Lavender Black Tea.
My favorite was the Pork Tenderloin with the Lavender Honey Sauce. Tiny morsels of sweet succulent lusciousness, served atop some kind of yummy bread. One serving of this delicious, pork delicacy was not nearly enough. I have to admit I was looking around the table to see if anyone was politely pushing it aside on their plate, because they did not find it as scrumptious as I did. But sadly, everyone agreed with me – it was special.
All this on a snowy afternoon at Magnolia Manor.