I learned how to recognize and distinguish three key lavender varietals: Spanish, French and English.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm rests high on the hillside, on the way to the Haleakala Crater. The late Ali’i Chang founded in 1988 and son Koa Chang continues to operate the farm, which features 45 varieties of lavender, plus proteas, succulents, a peaceful path, and a gift shop and snack bar with culinary lavender applications. The Ali’i crew has also cultivated nine garden beds for vegetables and herbs, in anticipation of a café, adding more value.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm also has a private residence that now houses Koa Chang.
Oahu native Ali’i Chang was a Buddhist, so he populated his farm with Buddha statues.
Mercedes and Mariah led us on an informative walking tour (normally $12) of Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm, which has a prime view of the distant Pacific Ocean.
Spanish lavender grows close to ground, contains less oil, and is primarily used for ground cover and decoration. Pinch the “bunny ears” up top for up to a year and still smell the aroma.
English lavender grows year round and people use it for culinary purposes and aromatherapy. The sweeter varietal sports a simpler leaf and packs more oil in the bulb.
French lavender has serrated leaves and contains oil in the stem, leaf and buds. Ali’i grinds French lavender for their scones.
The Peaceful Path led past several varieties of proteas. South Africa’s massive national flowers previously filled Ali’i’s gallery, which once served as a protea packing house.
A type of protea with fuzzy flowers goes by the name woolly bear.
We also saw proteas in full bloom, plus rose geraniums (natural flea and tick repellent) and Mexican sage with fuzzy purple flowers.
Yellow echeverrias and other succulents thrive at Ali’i because of the farm’s 4000-foot elevation and only 15 inches of rain per year, plus cloud coverag. For biodiversity, Ali’i Chang also planted the farm’s 13.5 acres with over 100 kinds of olives. They’re bonsai sculpted to preserve the view and eventually contribute to lavender infused olive oil. Change also planted two Japanese maple trees so they could experience the seasons.
At the end of the tour, Mercedes picked up a Jackson chameleon from the fence line, featuring three horns and a tail that curled like a fiddlehead fern.
We concluded our tour at the company store, which features lavender products both decorative and culinary, plus a small café.
Jeannie the Bread Lady bakes soft lavender scones, served warm with Jan’s lavender lilikoi jelly.
As a coffee purist, the idea of lavender coffee and lavender tea was perplexing, especially since both are available with lavender honey, but they were interesting to try.
Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm also sells lavender lemongrass soap, Ono Gelato Company lavender gelato, Big Island Candies lavender dark chocolate and lavender brownies, plus bags of pure culinary lavender, for home cooks.
April 2, 2013 at 2:35 PM
Mahalo Josh for the review. Beautiful site and nice articles! Let us know next time you visit.