Maryland Lavender Farm is a place to relax, wander
In the richly green rural countryside near Maryland’s Sugarloaf Mountain, the Soleado Lavender Farm is buzzing on this sunny morning with honey bees– and people studying lavender plants for that ‘perfect’ stem or blossom.
The farm’s location is far enough away from Baltimore and Washington D.C. neighborhoods that city sounds of traffic and millions of people are muted by hills and thick forests. The area surrounding the farm is more ‘gentleman’ farming than corn and wheat work.
Welcome to Sophia Watkins’ and Kevin Salmeron’s majestic backyard. They cleared most of the land themselves, Kevin says, with their eyes always on the future. Special events occur throughout the summer– yoga classes in the middle of a bamboo garden, dinners with an international flavor, family fishing in two ponds, weddings, photography classes.
The health benefits of lavender essential oil include its ability to eliminate nervous tension, relieve pain, disinfect the scalp and skin, enhance blood circulation and treat respiratory problems. The Latin name of lavender is Lavare, which means “to wash”, due to its particularly pleasant aroma. From OrganicFacts.net.
There is no admission charge to the farm, aside from special events. In June and July, the private farm is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed in August. Purchases can also be made online. Soleado, as in Soleado Lavender Farm, translates to “sunny” in English.
Planting more lavender, maintaining current plants, checking beehives all takes a lot of work for a two-person staff (Watkins and Salmeron). It takes 12 hours just to cut the grass, not including the hours of edging and weed-whacking. Today, they provide 3,000 plants for lovers of lavender. Some of the 10,000 annual visitors cut sprigs for take-home, some take photographs, others just wander the rows. The take-home cuttings account for only 30 percent of their income.
The couple is already bottling their lavender oils with only the few thousand plants but within ten years, the farm will be covered with a quarter million plants, providing oils for export and tended by a large maintenance staff. Naturally, with all these plants and flowers (seven kinds of lavender), the farm is expected to host a massive 1,000 beehive farm. And that’s only another part of the farm’s growing process.
For the easiest and most direct road to the farm, click here. For GPS, use this address– 23611 W Harris Rd, Dickerson, MD 20842 The most direct route is south on US Route 15, but another route through Westminster, Md., is less frantic. Either route will take about two hours.
Watkins and Salmeron plan to be married next year under the farm’s 400-year old oak tree, near one of two ponds and surrounded by lavender. Imagine another wedding party’s plight of where, exactly, to have the wedding– on the hill overlooking the farm? With the cat-tailed ponds as the background? Surrounded by a nearly solid bamboo wall?
On Fathers Day, the pond banks will be loaded with families looking for large mouth bass 16-22 inches long.
Another innovative idea will take shape in the forest away from the couple’s house and other buildings– in the quiet. A hammock forest, complete with hired butlers to provide wine beer or a served dinner, will be tucked in the far corners for customers to lay out, relax and enjoy the quiet beauty of this place. That is in the plans– don’t rush out for that quite yet.
It is, indeed, a majestic backyard.