Lavender Obsession

Lavender is currently in full bloom in Berkeley. It’s on every other street, and if you walk by on a warm day you’ll catch a whiff of the sweet, floral perfume. Lavender is a perennial (planted once, it blooms year after year) and yet this is the first year that I’ve noticed it so frequently. I think the heavy spring rain must have helped it along.

In the mornings and evenings, I find myself walking around with an eye out for purple hedges. When I see a lavender plant, I stop to smell the flowers. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly brave, I’ll pluck a bloom off a large hedge and carry it with me to work. On Thursday, I pulled a flower off this plant and tucked it in my hair. Later in the day, I placed it on my desk, crushing the petals between my fingers every so often to release the heady perfume.

I’ve been gardening with a friend and she has a beautiful Spanish lavender bush in her yard. I can’t wait to collect some blooms to blend into homemade soap, or ice cream, or sachets for drawers.

A few days ago, I made a map of all the lavender on the side streets leading up to my apartment building. The further into the season it gets, the more often I smell the scent on the air, knowing that soon the flowers will be gone, the more my lavender obsession grows.

I have to admit, I’m planning on stopping by my favorite bushes in a few weeks to see if they’ve set seed. Maybe I’ll take a cutting. I’d never cut flowers from a plant in someone’s yard, but those bushes on sidewalk corners and in front of large apartment buildings? I might take some seeds to plant so I can have my own perfumey hedge next year. And who knows, maybe I’ll inspire another gardener in the neighborhood to do the same.

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