What looked like a bruise on the landscape, vivid and dazzling against the hedges and traffic of Croydon Lane, proved to be one of Surrey’s best-kept secrets. At £1 entry per person (under 16s go free) and plenty of free parking, that was a small price to pay for the opportunity to enjoy the warmth and aroma of Provence…in Banstead.
Mayfield Lavender Farm, Shop and Café is a place for all ages – the children I saw were very happily running up and down the rows and watching the organically-grown lavender being hand-cut and bunched, and the bees and other insects kept them interested. It was the perfect place to wander, ponder and relax among the rows of three varieties of lavender, and the background hum of bee activity, the warmth of the sun and the steady waft of heady lavender was a treat for the senses. There were families on board a tractor and trailer on a tour of the fields, and I heard one family planning a birthday party under a shelter in the middle of a sea of purple.
The farm shop was heaving with lavender products, some edible – my lavender shortbread biscuit filled my mouth with floral deliciousness. I wish I’d bought more. Of course there were plants to buy too, with handy guides to help with your choice of plant variety, the right growing conditions and the colour (I didn’t know lavender can be pink, or white) and how to get the most from your lavender oil, from helping you sleep to using as a bite and sting remedy. The Al Fresco Café was definitely worth a visit with so many fragrant goodies to choose from to have with a cup of tea.
Knowing that lavender was grown on this very spot in the 18th and 19th centuries was naturally satisfying, and the 25 acres of Mayfield Lavender Farm are clearly a passion for the Maye family. There’s no easier way of getting back to nature from June to September than immersing yourself in Mayfield Lavender – and a lavender scone cream tea, of course.
Submitted to and published by A Berrylands Companion (Issue No: 111 September 2016)