Getting Away *

Weekender

If You Go

Arizona Lavender Festival call ahead for directions to the 9th annual arizona lavender Festival, held 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the following dates: June 21 - 24, June 28 - 30, and July 1. visit redrocklavender.com for tour times and festival activities, or call 928-337-2298. 22 H I G H R O A D S

Purple Passion

a concho farm becomes an unlikely home to lavender fields

When you think of a purpLe desert flower, first to mind is probably sage, as the bush grows wild in warm, dry terrain. What you're not likely to think of is lavender. yet, this french and english garden staple and mediterranean-loving plant is surprisingly thriving on a farm in the Grand canyon state. it all began when mike and christine teeple moved to concho - a remote village four hours northeast of phoenix - in the late '90s to build an orchard. they originally planted lavender for landscaping purposes, but discovered the mild climate, sandstone soil, clear skies, clean water, and high altitude created the perfect setting for their the spring- and summer-blooming beauties to thrive. they soon learned their plants have an abundance of ester - the chemical that produces the soothing fragrance associated with lavender. so, they experimented and experimented some more. now, more than a dozen varieties grow at the teeple's 130-acre ranch, surrounded M a r c h / A p r i l 2 0 1 2 by the red rock formations that gave the site its name, red rock ranch and farms. having more than 35,000 plants to harvest, they transform the buds into sachets, bouquets, lotions, shea butters, essential oils, fresh wreaths, culinary spices, and other items that can be purchased in their gift shop. each year, the teeples hold a summer festival just before harvest. driving up the farm's path, festival-goers immediately notice the heady scent drifting from rows and rows of english, french, and hybrid plants. divided by crushed granite paths and grassy patches, the farm stages the perfect place for a picnic. during festival season - an eight- or nineday affair - you can take a tour; learn how to cook with lavender; sample lavender-flavored lemonade, brownies, and chicken; and pick your own lavender to take home. With its calming scent and aesthetic appeal, this purple plant is one of the most versatile of all herbs, and at red rock ranch and farms, it's now available in our own backyard. Jackie dishner writes from phoenix and is the author of Backroads & Byways of Arizona. photos: (top) courtesy of christine teepLe, (Bottom) thinkstock

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