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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lockwood Flower & Fiber Farm appears at Mirbeau Inn & Spa

Lavender lore, lessons lure ladies to lunch

SKANEATELES - With its distinctive purple color and pleasing aroma, lavender may well be one of the best known flowering plants the world over.

Growing across the globe, people have found use for the fragrant plant in everything from gardens to exotic recipes.

Saturday afternoon at the Mirbeau Inn and Spa, Laura Ponticello of Laura's List along with Erika Davis of Creekside Bookstore, offered a day to celebrate the beauty of lavender with The Lure of Lavender, an afternoon garden tour and tea gathering on the Mirbeau's lush European-esque grounds.

Ponticello has hosted these teas generally once a month as a means for women to take time, gather, and celebrate the fact that they are women.

“I wanted to do something to empower women,” Ponticello said. “This seemed like a great opportunity for women to get together and talk and share their experiences and learn from each other.”

As much as these have been social gatherings, Ponticello also focuses the tea times on a variety of issues.

“I also wanted these to help raise awareness, awareness about things like women's health,” she said. “I believe that if every woman takes even just 15 minutes a day to focus on their health it is going to make a difference and this is one way to do that.”

More than 60 women gathered at the Mirbeau for Saturday's tea and from the moment they arrived the feature item, lavender, was present.

Mirbeau's restaurant, Giverny, offered up scones and other treats cooked with lavender in them as well as a lavender lemonade.

Guests took a brief walking tour of the Mirbeau gardens with Karen Lockwood-Wheeler of Lockwood Flower & Fiber Farm, who along the way pointed out the many unique plants in the gardens, as well as the lavender and how to grow it and keep it healthy.

Ponticello sees the lavender plant and gardening in general as a metaphor for women.

“I'm an avid gardener,” Ponticello said. “Our lives are a lot like that, you sow the seed and all your life experiences and everything that occurs waters it and makes it blossom.”

But lavender is believed to have more properties than just a pleasing aroma and taste; people have used it for centuries for medicinal purposes as well.

The plant's properties make it perfect for aromatherapy and essential oils, as well as antiseptic and anti-inflammatory products.

Ponticello invited several speakers such as Julia Maum an aroma therapist at Mirbeau as well as Michele Gardener to speak on the many uses of lavender as a relaxing and soothing agent.

Ponticello also shared her experience of inspiration by author Jeannie Ralston, who wrote “The Unlikely Lavender Queen,” a book on Laura's List featured on “Good Morning America.”

The book is a memoir of Ralston's life, making the move from a magazine writer to a lavender farmer in rural Texas. The story covers not only botanical growth, but also Ralston's personal growth as a woman.

It was an afternoon that touched those in attendance on many levels.

Denise Schoeneck of Skaneateles and her mother, Grace Fahey of North Carolina, appreciated the gathering as women for the variety of information people shared, but also appreciated the time together as mother and daughter.

“It is fabulous,” Schoeneck said. “I have lavender in my own yard and I think all the information on that is wonderful, but it is also great to be able to spend time together with my mother on a beautiful day like this. It is a really nice time.”

Ponticello will host another tea in October called Nourish, Mind, Body and Spirit focusing on the issue of breast cancer and part of the funds raised will be donated to breast cancer research.

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