CAPITOLA -- With a sassy name and sweet products, the Lavender Divas have been creating calm since 2005.
For the past eight years, group members have been making all sorts of lavender products that they sell once a year at the Aptos Farmers Market. The proceeds benefit the Mid-County Senior Center, where the group is based. The divas also gives some of their products away to cancer patients at the center.
It all started eight years ago with lavender shortbread (which the group no longer sells). Members now specialize in handmade sachets, eye pillows, rustic wands, baskets and culinary lavender, with products ranging from $2 to $8.
The divas -- members recently adopted the Lavender Divas name in place of the former Lavender Sisterhood, saying they felt the old name incorrectly conjured up the TV series "Downton Abbey" -- say they are true believers in the herb's soothing powers. It is said to have a calming effect that may aid in relaxation, and stress and anxiety reduction.
The group's current lineup is Myrna Golliher, Janet Glassman, Kathy Kuyper, Bunny Drayer, Dean Prikazsky, Lindsay Rosealba, Linda Des Jardines, Beth Cochran and Gail Mowatt.
Making the sweet-smelling creations is fairly simple, but it was that simplicity that hooked the divas.
"Our process is like a sort of fragrant assembly line," said Mowatt.
She said the women grow different types of lavender in several fully sunny sites in the center garden. She said English lavender Lavendula angustifolia provides the fragrant long-stemmed flowers needed to make Victorian lavender wands. The English cultivars 'Munstead' and 'Hidcote' provide strongly perfumed flowers on shorter stems used for eye pillows and sachets fashioned from lacy antique handkerchiefs.
The Lavender Divas originally took over a sunny plot that contained several thriving mature English lavender plants. Since then, after some experimentation with several other lavender species, more young English lavender plants were set out in that original plot plus in several other areas of the garden, and all have grown into large specimens.
Drainage at the sandy garden site is excellent so even in the rainiest winters, the lavender does not sit in wet soil. No feeding and very little supplementary watering are done. The perennials are pruned hard when the flowers are harvested in midsummer, which keeps them from becoming woody. All seem to thrive on a routine of benign neglect, providing reliable and generous bouquets of fragrant flowers. Except for occasional weeding, then the harvesting of the flowering stems, the lavender requires very little attention.
"Once a year we go through the entire cycle of the plant from wand-making classes in early July to harvest in August and sales in September, that assures the freshest product for our customers," said Mowatt.
IF YOU GO
Lavender sale at Aptos Farmers Market
What: The regular Saturday farmers market at Cabrillo College where the Lavender Divas will be selling their fragrant wares.
When: 8 a.m. to noon Saturday Sept. 14
Where: Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos