Why Lavender Will Grow in Montana, But Only in Select Locations
It's one of the best, and best smelling, multi-purpose herbs known to man.
However, with a lot of work and experimenting, growers in the Bitterroot Valley are finding some success in producing select varieties.
Outside Florence, Kym and Tom Roessel have been carefully growing several select varieties of the herb and selling products through their business, Big Sky Lavender.
In a small field with a sweeping view of the Bitterroot Front, the couple has been carefully cultivating and caring for their fragrant crop since 2018. And passing along knowledge about the properties of lavender which other countries have known for ages.
"Yeah, for sure. My gosh, we talk to people all the time now that realize how helpful, or beneficial the lavender is," Kim says. "Just smelling the lavender. That's all you have to do is smell it and it just sends signals to your brain that tells your whole nervous system to calm down."
A lot of work even before planting
The Roessel's did a lot of research, working with growers on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. For the past 30 years in Sequim, lavender farms have been taking advantage of the cool, but dry climate, and they helped Tom and Kym select varieties that would work in the Bitterroot.
"Well, the Bitterroot Valley, we just have a milder winter," Tom explains. "Most species of lavender don't do the cold weather very well. So you have to be very particular about what type of lavender you're putting in."
Being in the valley's bottom helps because of the gravelly soil, plus the sun. And the lighter snow in the winter helps insulate the hibernating plants.
As summer wraps up, the Roessel's and their helpers cut the last of the lavender.
Depending on the product, some of the cuttings won't be ready for use until next year. The lavender bunches are hung upside down in a dark, ventilated shed to dry. The buds are used for sachets or run-through distillation for the oils from three specific varieties.
And the products are extensive
Big Sky Lavender produces Magnesium Spray and cream for muscle, pain relief, and moisturizing. There are mosquito repellants, body sprays, sleep sprays, and other creams and oils known for their soothing qualities.
Also benefits before harvest
The farm has also been hosting morning yoga classes, which have proven very popular. Kim says the participants love coming out a doing their routines while inhaling the calming scent of lavender.
You can find out more about Big Sky Lavender by visiting their website or watching for them selling at local farmer's markets.