The Opinionated Gardener: Maine’s first ‘fragrance’ farm grows in Appleton

4 mins read

APPLETON – Lavender plants. We know and grow several cultivars of hardy English Lavender -mainly ‘Munstead’ and ‘Hidcote’ – in our mainly Zone 4 and 5 Maine gardens. But a lavender farm? A fragrance farm? A farm devoted to growing hundreds of lavender plants in order to harvest several hundred flower “spikes” per year per plant and extract by distillation their essential oils? A farm growing deep purple, pink and white varieties, each selected for their particular scent and oil content?

Owner Lorie Costigan at Glendarragh with an early blooming lavender.

To be sure, there will be all manner of cultivars to purchase for your own garden and there will be dried flowers and sachets (a small sack of flowers or herbs which emits a pleasant odor) for sale as well. And there will be workshops and tours and possibly even a tea house. But the backbone of the business will be the products developed from the essential oils of lavender, like perfumes and insect repellants, bath salts and soaps.

In the 19th century, the gently rolling hills where the farm is located supported a dairy farm; in the 21st it is on its way to becoming one of the new niche farms that make up what some are calling the creative agriculture economy. The farm is located on 27 acres in bucolic Appleton bordering the Georges River.

That’s the vision of Lorie and Patrick Costigan, who are committed to continuing the agricultural heritage of their land. Lorie grew up in Camden; Patrick grew up in Ireland. When not working their full-time day jobs and raising two sons, they have managed to build gravel paths and raised beds to accommodate some 1,500 lavender plants they have purchased from organic lavender farms across the country and planted. In the near future, they will take cuttings from these plants and propagate their own stock. But for the moment they are buying from others and building up their stock. Among the many varieties they have planted, in addition to ‘Munstead’ and ‘Hidcote’ are the less familiar ‘Jean Davis,’ ‘Melissa,’ ‘Betty’s Blue,’ ‘Coconut Ice,’ ‘Grosso,’ ‘Fashionably Late,’ ‘Abriali’ and ‘Provence.’

The Opinionated Gardener visited Glendarragh recently just as the lavender was beginning to bloom. She strolled down carefully laid out grayish gravel paths between rows of raised beds hosting hundred of full bodied lavender plants. Some 1,500 lavender plants. There was a bit of a purple haze and fragrant scent in the making. The OG purchased a pot of ‘Jean Davis,’ (a pink variety) and one of Coconut Ice (white). Both are hardy English Lavenders and should do very well here in hardy Zone 4 Temple.

Glendarragh will be open to the public on Saturdays beginning July 4 through mid-August. It is well worth the trip. Bring a picnic lunch. The farm is located on Route 131 off of Route 17 coming out of Augusta. The address: 151 Searsmont Road, Appleton Village. Check out the website: mainelavender.com or call 785-3730.

Editor’s Note: Interested in lavender? You may be interested in the Opinionated Gardener’s detailed piece on the species, and the challenges of growing the plant, which can be found here.

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