Snezhena (Снежана) and the Seven Lavs

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By Nancy Baker

Snezhena was born to a French communist and Spanish Fascist who fought on opposing sides in Yugoslavia during WWII. When they met in the lavender fields of Croatia, her foreign-fighting parents found they had both come from lavender growing regions of their home countries.They dropped their guns and fell madly in love in the familiar scent of their childhoods.  She grew up with the aroma of the small purple herbaceous flowers in her home in the ethnically Hungarian region of Yugoslavia called Vojvodina where they had a lavender co-op. During the civil war she fled to Bulgaria where she became a lavender farmer. Her son, Herb, eventually married into a family of Hungarian refugees – each with the personality of a lavender which had scented her story and life.

The Patriarch of the Lavandula family was Doc Angustoifolia.  Most would recognize him as THE True Lavender. Although Doc stayed and was an herbal doctor in Hungary during World War 2 , Communism, and the fall of the wall; many of his family members left in exile. He is a gentle but flexible man – known to beat the worst of life’s burns yet able to gently put a baby to sleep.

The first to leave Hungary were his cousins Stoechas and Latifolio known as Sneezy and Father Grumpy to friends.  They left at the outbreak of World War Two. Grumpy, Stoechas was a priest who went to northern Spain. He was a rough around the edges – camphoraceous they said – and perhaps because he was a celibate known to be a a mess around pregnant women and babies.  Latifolio was a weak child who was hid away with the Basques between France and Spain during the war. Always sniffly as a child he was called Sneezy. The Basque countryside helped his issues. Later in life he was called Spike reflecting his strength. He was bold with a whisky and smoke voice that hit the lungs and flexed some muscle. The cousins kept in touch over the years and came back to their family’s lavender fields to live their last days.

Angustifolia’s heart broke when his triplet (Officianalis, Maillette, and Vera) daughters were smuggled out of Hungary during the Revolution of 1956. They were identical when then left. But when he saw them again, they were very different women. Each was shaped by where they lived, the influences that grew around them, and what refined them in the end. Angustifolia’s daughters were genetic clones of each other. However, although each Angustifolia’s – their personalities were distinct – Bashful, Sleepy, and Dopey. Perhaps their calmness was a reaction to their hectic and chaotic early years. Bashful, Officianalis was adopted to an English Family in Cotswold. She worked in skin-care for long lost Hungarian shirt tail cousin Estee Lauder. Maillette was a taken in by a French family in a sleepy village in Provence. She was well-known for her sweetness in her work in the high stakes Perfume Houses of Grasse. Vera was adopted by a French speaking Austrian mountain climber. Although not well-read, hence her nick name Dopey, she was quite refined by the high- altitude and known to be complex. She was a mountain guide who brought visitors to alpine mineral baths. In their silver years, the triplets came back to their father to create a Spa in their father’s honor.

Angustafolia’s son, Attila, was his greatest sadness. He became a Communist and eventually his farming knowledge was used by the Soviets to grow poppies in Afghanistan. With the fall of Communism Attila escaped to Pakistan where he fell in love with a Kashmiri woman – Indira. Indira’s family had come to the region after partition from the city of Kannuaj. Together they had the first Lavandula grandchild, Happy. After 9/11, Happy left the chaos of Kashmir to find her paternal family now congregating in Bulgaria. Happy was beautiful and exotic as well as a soothing influence to the group. When she arrived the Lavandulas were stunned. She was a darker carbon copy of her triplet aunts. She fell in love with Snezhena’s son, Herb.  They got married and lived happily ever after.

There actually was another family member in the picture who needed some boundaries. Few talked about the 8th member of the squad – Sleazy. Sleazy Lavandin was from an American off-shoot and had been backpacking around Europe. The Lavandin family was a mix of Hippies and Grunge living in Sequim, Washington on the same peninsula as the home of Kurt Cobain. Not many talked about this side of the family, except as a good story of misadventure, but never about their greatness.  Don’t want to gossip, but it is said that the Lavandin family kind of got around, getting together with this one or that. Loads of stories of Sleazy being emmeshed in alcohol, cheap and then acting Super Gross were abound. The Lavandula’s found a place for Sleazy Lavandin – but only at an arms length and a side note in the whole operation.

Many tried to join the “family”. Especially many factory workers from China who had fake this and that to try to fit in. But they weren’t allowed in – instead of being found in the fields or spas they went to candles and dryer sheets.

Snezhena grew the most amazing lavender the world had ever seen. Like people – it reflected the experiences, influences, and environment in which it was grown. Together their story was volatile and healing. With her partner Lavandula Angustafolia, who was the True thing, it was all a story to behold.

The Moral of the Story: Lavender is not just one plant with a single origin. There are many species and each type has differences depending on its story. Like people, the plant breeds and is influenced by its environment, what it takes in through the air and its roots, and how well it is cared for. The following chart explains the story a bit more and takes quite a bit of literary license ….

Although the herb and essential oil of lavender share some qualities – this is a fable about the oil. For more Botanical Fiction from www.TheBardsApothecary.com check out Peppermint: Aromatherapy’s Incredible Hulk and Lemon Essential Oil: There was an old woman who lived in a shoe …… or follow me on Facebook

 

 

Common Name and Latin Binomial Disney Counterpart Geography and Story The Plant and Therapeutic Oil
Snezhena Snow White Croatia grows incredible lavender.

Voijvodina is a region of Serbia that has a large Hungarian minority. Bulgaria now grows an incredible amount of lavender. Having roots in Spain and France is nod to their great lavenders.

Lavender is considered both a flower and herb
Lavendula Angustafolia

Aka: True Lavender

Doc Lavender came from Europe but has spread all over the world.. Hungary grows an incredible amount of lavender. Multiple medicinal and therapeutic uses (including burns and safe for little ones). When one says lavender, this is the one people are talking about.
Lavandula officianalis

Same as Lavendula Angustafolia

Aka: English Lavender

Bashful In 1956 the Soviets crushed an uprising. Many fled in the middle of the night. Families were separated.

One main areas of English lavender is Cotswold. A famous Hungarian in the US skin care world was Estee Lauder

Esters are sometimes said to give relaxation which can be confused with being bashful. This oil is often high linalyl acetate.  The linalool content makes for great skin care.
Lavendula Maillette

Same as: Lavendula Angustafolia

Aka: Maillette

 

Sleepy

 

Maillette again is the same as Officianalis. The incredible growing region of Provence give produces high quality lavender. It has a softer, less sharp scent. The aroma is often described as sweet. Grasse, France is one of the perfume capitals of the world. The sweetness comes from a high level of linalyl acetate. Lavender Maillette is just one step above a lavender grown in other regions and is exceptional for relaxation. It’s powdery scent is a favorite in perfumes.

 

Kashmir

Same as Lavendula Angustafolia

Happy Kashmiri Lavender is a darling of the lavender set right now. Kashmir is a shared region of India and Pakistan. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Many soldiers defected.  Kannuaj, India is a center for perfumes. There is a more rough scent  to this Same as Lavendula Angustafolia but it is low in camphor (unlike spike or Spanish lavender). It is again high in linalool which contributes to soothing and relaxing qualities. It is exotic and said to be beautiful.
Lavendula Latifolia or Lavendula Spica

Aka: Spike  or Portugese Lavender

Sneezy The Basque region connects both Spain and France. Although these are the areas where it is most often grown, it’s proximity to Portugal has it grown there too. This is the lavender for colds and allergies. The unique chemical constituents are first, 1, 8 cineole which is found in eucalyptus and second camphor, used in physical therapy gels. Still comforting to the soul it smells like the flower, but a hits the lungs and relaxes the muscles.
Lavendula Stoechas

Aka: Spanish Lavender

Grumpy As the common name says, this is an plant grown in Spain. Many priests fled Catholic Hungary in World War 2 as they protected the Jews and then the Communists persecuted them as well. This oil has an edge to it. Unique in composition like Spike, it is first heavy in camphor and then in 1,8 cineole. This oil is to be avoided in pregnancy and lactation due to its camphor levels.
Lavendula Population or Lavendula Vera

Same as Lavendula Angustafolia

Aka: Fine Lavender

Dopey This lavender is often grown at a higher elevation, particularly in France. When it is over 1400 meters it becomes more unique in its chemistry. A consequence of the high altitude in this version of the same oil is that it produces more esters. Some consider it more volatile than its other triplet partners, Officianalis and Maillete, and suggest it for spas, baths and steam.
Lavandula x intermedia,

Lavandula Hybrida, Lavandula Hortensis,

Lavandin Abrialis

Aka: Super and Grosso

 

Not so well know dwarf perhaps cut out of the Disney script….. Sleazy Like the population of the US, “lavender” can be a mixed mutt  – a hybrid. It can be cheaper than some of the more complicated varieties. Sequim, Washington is in a Banana Belt outside of the rain shadow of the Olympic Rainforest.  They grow and distill lovely lavender and loads of lavandin. Lavandin’s assets depend on whom mated with whom, which specie were mixed to create the new plant. For instance Lavandula x intermedia is a cross between True and Spike Lavender. All lavenders are high in alcohols – but this was just a good place to mention this functional family. These plants are sterile.
Lavender scent Lavender scent The areas of former communist countries are riddled with trafficking from China (in particular) and a highway for bootlegged and pirated goods from Asia to the west. Lavender is perhaps the most adulterated oil out there.  Synthetic scent is what most people know. In most cases it has no therapeutic value except perhaps bringing back a good memory. Even the essential oil market is battling adulterated cheap knock offs that smell the same, might have the same function but are not derived from plants.

 

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