2014-08-07 / From The Garden

Making Magical Lavender Wands

By Cynthia Gibson


Madeline McDonough collects stems of lavender for her wand. (Photo by Cynthia Gibson) Madeline McDonough collects stems of lavender for her wand. (Photo by Cynthia Gibson) The lavender fields in Provence, France are magnificent. We are lucky to have a similar climate here; although we deal with more humidity, we live in the perfect zone to grow French lavender.

The end of July and the beginning of August is the best time to harvest lavender. You might also consider inviting children to your home to make lavender wands. This has become an annual summer ritual for many.

I recently went to a wand party. Madeline McDonough was the lead teacher, with help from her mom, Val. Once the colorful ribbons appeared on the table, we knew it was time for the festivities to begin.

There was a short lesson on where the best lavender grows and how to pronounce the word in French. “Lavande” is spoken “la vond,” with the “d” pronounced.

Armed with safe clippers, the older girls were the harvesters and began to cut the long lavender stems. Each wandmaker needed 33 stems; an odd number is requried, as satin ribbons are weaved in and out of the stalks.

Once everyone had her stems, each partygoer picked just the right color of ribbon to suit her tastes. The host had all hues imaginable, including polka dot streamers, which made the wands wonderfully whimsical. It was fun to watch the girls move from hot pink to a softer ballerina pink.

After the girls gathered the stems into a tight bunch, making sure that the lavender flowers were at the same height, they used the ribbon to tie a tight knot around the base of the blooms. Then the fun part began – the weaving.

The wandmakers turned the bunch upside down and bent three stems at a time over the flowers. They wove the ribbon on top of three stems and underneath the next three stems, and then repeated the process until the round top of the wand was complete. As the instructors demonstrated, the stalks were cut to be even and the ribbon was wrapped down to the base and tied off with a slipknot or two.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Between the laughter and cries for help, it took about an hour to make the wands.

To celebrate our beautiful creations, we enjoyed tea sandwiches with lemonade and were then surprised when our host presented a pyramid of white and chocolate cupcakes iced with lavender flowers.

One of the mothers at the party said, “Oh, look what the girls have done to your beautiful huge plant.” Honestly, they did the host a favor by pruning the lavender so that a second smaller crop will arrive in September.

When the party was over, we encouraged the girls to place the wands under their pillows or on their bedside tables to ensure happy dreams for the rest of the summer.

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