This morning three friends (Virginia Staats, Inge Rider and Dianne Richter) and I drove over to the Blanco area for their 6th Annual Lavender Festival, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. The day began very cloudy and cool, but by mid-day it was mostly sunny. It was a good day for such an outing.
Our first stop was at the Miller Creek Lavender Farm, which is about halfway between Johnson City and Blanco. It is owned by Don and Karen Roets. It features 3.5 acres of lavender, a butterfly garden, a variety garden with 50+ varieties of lavender, picnic area, blackberry patch and gift shop. Their lavender products include peach salsa, jalapeño jelly, pumpkin butter and raspberry chipotle sauce – all delicious. I had not known that there are so many varieties of lavender. Karen Roets explained how lavender is grown and provided tips on growing it. One important tip is to NOT water it too much; it requires very little water to thrive. (www.millercreeklavender.com)
A little farther south on US 281 is Hill Country Lavender. It is Blanco’s original commercial lavender farm. Tasha Brieger managed the farm several years for original owners, National Geographic photographer Robb Kendrick an author Jeannie Ralston. She purchased it in 1999 and moved it to its current location and expanded the product line. They now offer 75+ handmade products including soaps, lotions, sprays and culinary items. (www.hillcountrylavender.com)
By the time we arrived at Blanco it was nearly noon. We decided to have lunch before visiting the Market Square on the old Blanco County Courthouse square. We ate at the Rockin’ R Steakhouse, located on the town square. The food was good. Executive Chef, Steve Becker, created all the menu items and developed the salad dressings. Of course we had to try their lavender lemonade. The restaurant itself was interesting; it had all sorts of antique items on the walls. (www.rileysbarbq.com)
Then it was time to visit the Lavender Market across the street. The vendors and artists from across the Hill Country offer lavender-related products, jewelry, pottery, paintings, clothing, kitchen items and other items. The only thing I bought was a tote bag from the Chamber of Commerce.
The Old Blanco County Courthouse is now the visitor center. The two-story Second Empire style masonry building was completed in 1885. L-shaped wooden stairways lead to the second floor, which is dominated by a large central courtroom with a small office in each corner of the room. After the county seat was moved to Johnson City in 1890, it became privately owned and has served a variety of needs. From 1936 to 1970, it was used as a general hospital, where over a thousand children were born. On the wall is a list of all those children. The building is now owned by the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society (OBCCPS). They renovated it for The Coen Brothers’ re-make of the movie, ”True Grit”.
After a brief rest we visited the lovely little Bindseil City Park, which is adjacent to the town square. It is named for Roland and Viola Bindseil. The park features a gazebo, an outdoor stage and the largest live oak tree in Blanco County. There was a booth where a retired doctor and his RN wife. They talked to us about nutrition and provided samples of their Juice Plus + products. They are whole-food-based capsules or chewables made from fruit and vegetable juices. (www.maryellajuiceplus.com/)
We then headed east to visit another farm. Along the way we saw many beautiful meadows of bright yellow flowers. Of course Sweet Pea just wouldn’t continue past them. :>)
The Heron’s Nest Herb Farm was the largest farm that we visited. It is owned by Fred and Melanie Van Aken. The beautiful setting is very impressive. There is a nature trail between the herb farm and their house. In addition to lavender products, they grow and craft native medicinal herbs and specialty nursery items. They also offer classes on site. Their goal is to become completely “off the grid”, that is, totally self-sufficient. They are very close to meeting that goal. (www.heronsnestherbfarm.com)
Since none of us had any plans for the evening, we decided to make one more stop before heading back to Austin. We stopped at the Wimberley Lavender Farm. There we enjoyed some lavender ice cream as we sat on the porch with a nice breeze cooling us off. There were two options: lavender vanilla or lavender chocolate. I chose the vanilla – a good choice. (www.wimberleylavender.com)
Finally it was time to head home. It had been a very good day.
ROUTE: US 290 W to Johnson City => US 281 S to Blanco => FM 165 E => FM 2325 E to Wimberley => FM 12 to Dripping Springs => US 290 E back to Austin