Fields of Purple
On a small Milton farm, nestled away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you might mistake the serene surroundings for a scene in Provence, France — the southern region of the European nation that produces much of the world’s lavender. Lavender Fields at Warrington Manor may be in Sussex County, but feels worlds away from the busy beach area that now extends from Milton to Fenwick Island.
As visitors pull up the drive, they pass a turn-of-the-century manor house. As you drive on, the lavender field appears — it’s a sea of purple during the peak blooming season as 3,000 lavender plants gently sway in the breeze greeting guests. If you’re lucky, you’ll be welcomed by employee Bobbi Engel Sherman, an affable and energetic lady with beautiful, bright purple hair. Sherman helps guests decide where to begin their adventure — there are lots of options.
From May through October, the farm hosts open talks each Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. to educate the public about the history of the unique property and the many uses of lavender. Lavender Fields grows two varieties of lavender, English and French. The English variety blooms from late May through mid-June, and occasionally in September, and is shorter and bushier than the French variety. French lavender blooms later in June and is taller, growing up to 36 inches in height.
Blooms from both types of plants are harvested a few weeks after they blossom. English lavender is used in the production of cooking goods and the French variety is used in perfumes and other scented merchandise sold in the farm’s cottage store. Lavender soaps, fragrances, bug repellant and even cuttings from the farm’s plants are sold in the cottage store. “Most people say it smells so wonderful in there, and they could stay in there all day,”
In addition to the thousands of colorful lavender plants, the property features a Zen garden, an herb garden, a bee and butterfly garden, a wildflower garden and an award-winning dahlia garden that boasts 64 varieties of the colorful spiky flowers. Visitors can find peace and relaxation at Lavender Fields.
According to Sherman, “You leave here with a good feeling. There definitely is an energy here that is very positive. It’s not just the natural homeopathic benefits of lavender, which is definitely relaxing. It’s just so nice. I love it here. I love the people I work for and I love the visitors.”
By making reservations, guests can also enjoy a special treat in the tea room, where French baker Martine Downing prepares a delicious meal and lavender tea for diners. “The tea room is small and quaint. Because it’s so comfortable, most people see it as an extension of their own dining room. They just don’t want the hassle of hosting an event in their own house. We have the perfect place for people to bring their friends and family,” said Downing.
Lavender Fields is owned by Sharon Harris and Marie Mayor, who purchased the farm in 2002. The property’s rich history dates back to 1684 — the land was part of a 1,000-acre patent made by William Penn. Over the centuries, the farm has had many owners, and after visiting the spectacular gardens, it’s easy to see why Harris and Mayor fell in love with the place.
The couple and the staff at Lavender Fields are always excited to share the unique homestead with the public. Maybe it’s the fragrance of lavender, or maybe it’s the stunning gardens, but visitors are almost certain to leave more relaxed than when they arrived.
“It’s different every day. We’re always growing and moving forward. It never gets boring and it never gets old. In all of this chaos, there is this tiny bit of tranquility. They always say they’ll be back,” said Sherman.
Learn more about Lavender Fields by visiting www.lavenderfieldsde.com.