THE LAVENDER ISLAND
Introducing Hvar lavandin, a type of finely scented lavender particular to this impressive archipelago with its exquisite crystal clear sea and rich traditions.
Many characteristics can be ascribed to Hvar: the most hours of annual sunshine, the heady smell of wine, extremely beautiful beaches and coves, clear blue sea, an impressive archipelago, fascinating customs – and wonderfully beautiful lavender.
Lavender: multiple delights
The soothing, gentle scent and deep purple colours of lavender have delighted people throughout the centuries. On Hvar, lavender is used not only for its scent, but also as a flavouring in cooking. What could possibly be better than travelling among such aromatic surroundings? Hvar is truly special, with its quaint villages and fields of vines and lavender overlooking the sea. It is especially enticing in May and June. Hvar Island is one of the best places in the world for satisfying all the senses.
The lavender season is not year-round: lavender plants flower from May to about mid-June, with its peak around mid-June, although this might vary, depending on rainfall and sunshine. On Hvar, the lavender fields are mainly to be found in the Starigrad Plain and around Pitve, Zastražišće and Malo Grablje.
Former economic importance
In the past, Hvar lavandin was produced in large quantities, amounting to 10% of total world production, and sufficient to cover 90% of the needs of former Yugoslavia. Large-scale cultivation of lavender in Dalmatia started after the notorious crisis in wine production, especially after the First World War. Of the whole of today’s Croatian coastal area, Hvar Island was the most important producer of lavender, in the form of the type of lavandin called budrovka. Lavender used to be the main source of income for many families before the advent of lucrative tourism. For some thirty years from the middle of the 20th century to the 1980s, income from selling lavender oil financed the building of many houses, and schooling for the young generations.
Although production is much more limited now, the traditions are being carefully preserved and nurtured. Every year at the end of June there is a Lavender Festival in the ethno-eco village of Velo Grablje, which lasts several days and gives visitors a chance to learn all about lavender, its production and uses, and to appreciate to the full this wondrous medicinal plant.
Many different products are made from lavender flowers and leaves, besides lavender oil, and they are sold in shops and on stands all over the island. You can savour biscuits sprinkled with lavender flowers, cakes coated with lavender juice, champagne with a hint of lavender… Lavender products from Hvar are an ideal souvenir to take home. The local mark of quality is ‘Hrvatski otočni proizvod’, (‘Croatian Island Product’) which means that the product is made to nationally recognized standards.