Who I am.
The town calls me Lavender Lori, even to this day. I had a goal when I started to become the Lavender Queen of Montana. And, well, at least my bookkeeper was impressed enough with the transition I made from my gardening service of 12 years to that of lavender farming to call me such.
There are other lavender farmers now, thirteen years later. I should know, I consulted them all.
But I was a pioneer in the Missoula valley. Out on the coast, where Sequim, Washington is the Lavender capital of the U.S. they said it couldn’t be done. When I ordered 500 plants from them they ‘mistakenly’ sent 500 of a variety I did not order. I think they thought ‘Hey it’s Montana, they’re all gonna die anyway.’ and die they did. So they comp’d me replacements and I dug 500 more holes into the Rocky Mountains of Montana.
Those first 500 were accompanied by 500 ordered from Mike Hanselman of Blue Heron Herbary on Sauvie Island, Oregon. He delivered them himself, in a state-of-the-art packing job in the back of his pick-up. He wanted to go fishing here in our world class streams. Great guy. He brought me a dozen of another variety to trial. It has proven up and beyond any other variety so far. It could be the one for growing in Montana!
I’d spent a winter researching possible varieties after being struck by a lavender lightning bolt at a lavender farm in Sequim. As I sipped a lavender martini, after a lunch of lavender mushroom soup, lavender shortbread cookies, and lavender Earl Grey tea, waiting to cut my own bouquet (harvest the farmer’s field for him, and pay him to do so), I told my friend that I was going to do this back home in Missoula. She said “Impossible.” I said, “Just watch me!”
I had no money, nor land at the time, but I was on a mission. I had to expose as many people to the 6 sensory experience I had felt myself. Had to do it, tho’ it made no sense.
That was in 2001, the rest is herstory.
As of 2014, I’m writing the quintessential guide on growing lavender in a zone 5 or colder climate. I am diligently working on it. It is hard to tell when it will be ready to publish, but you can read excerpts on this sight.