Harvesting Lavender with Jadran Lazic at 6am on Hvar: Aromatic Paradise
July 6, 2018 – It is lavender season on the island of Hvar, and an early start for TCN to go work in the lavender fields of celebrated paparazzi, Jadran Lazic.
It is Hvar’s most aromatic plant and which has its very own festival dedicated to it, but while most visitors limit their appreciation to admiring the fragrant lavender fields of Hvar or buying some of the extremely healthy lavender oil in the island’s souvenir shops, there is another important component – the lavender harvest.
There are not so many lavender fields on Hvar these days, sadly, but there are a few gems to seek out, including this delightful field on the very top of the island, where lavender bushes were planted just over five years ago by Jadran Lazic, a top photographer who divides his time between LA and his lavender on Hvar. Jadran was the man who brought a very young Jodie Foster to Hvar several decades ago and, had she been on the island when he had his lavender to harvest, I am sure he would have persuaded her to get up at 04:30 to cut his lavender. As he did with me. For four years now.
It may be an early start, but the rewards are magnificent. The island of Hvar from the top at 05:30. Choose your sea view.
A quick flashback to Jadran’s first ever harvest, back in 2013. I remember being impressed at his superbly ordered field and commenting on how pretty the lavender was.
Fast forward 5 years, and here was the task of the day, which lay ahead of us.
Watching a true professional harvesting lavender is like watching poetry in motion, especially when you have a nature-loving father teaching his son the ancient traditions of the island. What a team these two were, and the moment was made all the sweeter to see Dad, a successful local lawyer, taking phone calls from clients during his time on top of the hill. Not quite the lawyer in suit image one might associate successful lawyers with. I was falling in love with that chilled island lifestyle all over again.
Jadran is an excellent host, and he prepared a breakfast of champions for his assembled picking crew, rakija and doughnuts for the majority, something a little more thirst-quenching for the fat foreign journalists.
No bottle openers required with this lavender picking crew.
And there was even four-legged company to keep the workers entertained.
And plenty of new friends to be made on the lavender itself.
The harvesting team of about 15 was a nice mix of experienced local and first-time tourists, including half a dozen French tourists who had been sitting in a beach bar in Zarace the afternoon before and got into a chance conversation about lavender. Jadran soon had them to work, and a memorable time was had by all before the had to leave early to get their ferry to Split.
Finally, all the 300-plus bushes were cut, and the precious cargo put into bags, awaiting onward delivery to the distillery for that precious oil. The 2018 harvest was a record for Jadran, an impressive five litres. He tells me that when he is LA, he puts a drop on his pillow each night, dreams of Dalmatia and sleeps like a baby.
A lavender field post-harvest. Beautiful in a different way.
A word on the heat. Lavender is harvested very early in the morning, as the temperatures in early July in the fields are forbidding. When we arrived at 05:30, it was very cool, a little cold even, but as each bush was cut, so the temperature rose, and harvesting any later than 07:30 would be very unpleasant indeed.
It was time for the serious part of the day – marenda! The fire prepared, we all knew that a meat feast was abou tto ensue.
And so it proved.
A veritable feast. Simple pleasures and a closeness to nature with Hvar’s most fragrant of fields. Learn more about the lavender picking process with Jadran’s video of the 2017 harvest.
See you next year, July 6, at 5am at the entrance to the Pitve tunnel.