The exclamations are audible as visitors arrive at Washington Lavender Farm, scrambling out of their cars to photograph the lipstick-pink poppies and scalloped rows of lavender that march along its white-fenced driveway. Here and across the acreage anchored by the coastal George Washington Inn, lavender explodes into bloom like deep purple fireworks.
Thousands of bees stir the heady fragrance in Washington’s Sequim-Dungeness Valley, dubbed the Lavender Capital of North America.
More than 30,000 visitors from across the country and beyond gather here the third weekend in July for the region’s Lavender Festival and the chance to photograph or paint the colorful fields, stock up on sachets and soaps, collect new culinary recipes, feast on crab cakes with lavender mayonnaise, savor lavender lemon sorbet and lavender white chocolate ice cream and sip lavender margaritas and lavender-infused wines.
“You just get intoxicated with lavender in all its various forms in one visit,” says Paul Jendrucko, who calls himself “Dr. Lavender,” and whose wife, Mary, leads the Sequim Lavender Growers Association.
The valley nestles between the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which moderates the temperature, and the Olympic Mountains, which shelter it from heavy rains that keep the peninsula’s moss-draped Hoh Rain Forest and towns like Forks (where the Twilight books and movies are set) famously cloudy and damp.
Lavender fields across Sequim’s dry, sunny farms bloom for about three weeks in July, grabbing the attention of passing travelers such as Talie Lamolinara of Jacksonville, Fla.
She happily snipped stems of lavender into a pick-your-own basket at Purple Haze Lavender Farm.
“I like lavender-flavored anything,” she says, with a smile on her face and an armful of fragrance that will follow home.
The Sequim Lavender Festival, scheduled this year from July 21-23, includes a downtown street fair full of art and lavender vendors, concerts by area musicians and regional foods including crab cakes, chowder and salmon, fresh berries, lavender-glazed walnuts and lavender lemon curd crepes.
A handful of farms, such as Purple Haze and Washington Lavender, charge fees and host their own Lavender Weekend festivities with music, demonstrations and vendors. More than a dozen farms are free to visit.
Make a Trip of It
Blondie’s Plate: Share elegant small plates of local salmon, oysters and clams.
Alder Wood Bistro: Dine in the courtyard or indoors on wood-fired pizzas, fish and chips and local produce.
Dungeness Bay Cottages: Six units with full kitchens include views of Dungeness Bay in one direction and mountains in the other.
Sunset Marine Resort: Eight cabins with kick-back balconies overlook. Sequim Bay.
George Washington Inn: This B&B, a replica of Mont Vernon, features views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.