A book introduced me to Tasha Brieger, owner of Hill Country Lavender. Jeannie Ralston’s The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming is the story of a couple who, after several trips to Provence, noted how similar the Hill Country was to the terrain and climate of southern France. Jeannie and her husband Robb Kendrick, a professional photographer, became pioneers when they opened a lavender farm in Blanco, TX in 1999.
As a teenager, Tasha’s interest in photography brought her onto the farm. The expectation was for her to shadow Robb. But he was often away on assignments, which left his wife, who was raising two young boys, overwhelmed and up to her knees in lavender fields. Needing help, she hired Tasha. Over the next several years, Tasha acquired a set of skills that would ultimately play pivotal parts in her future: planting, harvesting, botany, meteorology, marketing, customer service and event planning. Her dexterity, loyalty and dependability made her an invaluable resource.
Taking Over the Farm at 22
Born and raised in Blanco, this woman is grounded like her 2500 lavender plants. She’s bright, articulate and genuine with blue eyes that mimic the botanicals she cultivates. And like a glass of lavender infused lemonade (which can be purchased in Blanco at her parents’ cafe, Redbud), there is something fresh and invigorating about her presence.
In 2006 when Jeannie and Robb decided to sell the lavender farm to pursue a new adventure in Mexico, Tasha was the natural choice. At 22, most people party late and sleep in. Tasha was wrapping up a double major in Photography and Graphic Design and buying a farm! It would take Robb’s prodding and encouragement, along with her family’s support, for Tasha to make the leap into farm ownership.
Cut Your Own Lavender
If you can’t afford a plane ticket to Provence this summer, you may want to pack a picnic and head out to Blanco. The charming Hill Country town is located about an hour from downtown Austin. Lavender season officially opens the weekend of May 22nd and runs through early July. The cost for one bundle (diameter about the size of a quarter) is $5.
A representative from Hill Country Lavender will provide you with everything necessary to cut your own lavender: a few instructions, scissors and a tie to keep them bundled. Tasha offered a few good pointers herself: wear comfortable closed toe shoes, wear sunscreen and bring a hat.
There’s a lush oak tree to offer a bit of shade and a rustic outbuilding where you can shop for an assortment of locally produced lavender gifts to bring home. She laughs when recalling her fiancée’s description of the building, “a glorified goat shack.” This comment makes me wish I had been born with hooves and a goatee!
Year round you can find Hill Country Lavender’s products at Tasha’s parents’ pottery shop, Brieger’s Pottery, which is connected to the family’s cafe, Redbud. There you’ll find a deli serving made from scratch meals, Real Ale on tap (produced in Blanco) and of course their daughter’s lavender lemonade! Life is sweet and prospering at Hill Country Lavender Farm, and so is Ms. Brieger.
Annual Lavender Festival in Blanco
Don’t forget, the weekend of June 12-14, 2015 is Blanco’s 11th annual Lavender Festival! In addition to a lavender inspired market on the town’s main square, there will also be live music, local beer and wine, along with Texas specialty foods!
@theAustinot wants to know:
Did you know you could cut your own lavender in nearby Blanco, TX?