The first thing a visitor to Brenda Lukasiewich’s Wynndel home notices is the scent of lavender filling the air, both outside and inside.But with over 700 plants on the property, it’s no surprise that their presence is so evident.
“It’s a hobby gone mad,” said Lukasiewich, who was a nurse for 29 years.
Wynndel Lavender didn’t start out as such a going concern, though.
After moving to the Creston Valley from Edmonton, Lukasiewich was looking for plants to put around a backyard pond, so a friend gave her some lavender. When it grew bigger than the cedars sharing the space around the pond, Lukasiewich knew what she had to do — she got 360 more lavender plants.
“I probably would have settled for that if it hadn’t been for the farmers’ market,” she said.
But the success of her booth at the Creston Valley Farmers’ Market — which runs through December — prompted Lukasiewich to expand her business to 750 plants, which isn’t as much as it seems, depending on your point of view.
“By lavender farm standards, that is still rather small — some commercial growers can have as many as 14,000,” she said.
It’s enough, however, that she can’t harvest it alone, and annually enlists the help of her children and grandchildren.
“It’s gotten to be so much, now the kids come in August to help with the harvest,” Lukasiewich said. “I buy their fishing licences and they harvest.”
Lukasiewich grows mainly French lavender, a hybrid developed by French perfume industry, which smells less sweet than the English type commonly grown in most gardens.
The harvest results in a lot of lavender, which Lukasiewich dries and sells in bundles — she sells fresh bundles in season — as well as jars of buds, drawer liners, stress balls, closet fresheners and eye pillows, the latter being her most popular item.
Growing lavender means that Lukasiewich’s plan to move to the Creston Valley from Edmonton worked out well — she wanted to garden and her husband wanted to fish, and they started building their Wynndel home in 2005.
Before leaving Edmonton and retiring from her nursing career, Lukasiewich became a master gardener, and then furthered her knowledge by joining the Creston Valley Garden Club, where the members learn by “snooping in each others’ yards.”
To top it all off, she’s thrilled with the climate in the valley, which couldn’t serve her hobby better.
“It’s so rewarding to put a stick in the ground and it grows,” she said. “You can’t do that in Edmonton. It’s my therapy.”