The Belgian province of Limburg is an expanse of green fields punctuated by neat red brick towns. Although Brussels is a much more laid-back and calm city in comparison to London, Paris or Berlin, as I stroll through the woods near Hasselt, Limburg’s capital, I feel as if I just left a bustling metropolis. It’s all serenity, stone church spires and the soft rustle of leaves in the trees lining the river. And the rich perfume of lavender.
Although lavender is usually associated with Provence, there is a 4 hectare farm near Herkenrode in Limburg, and it’s open for the summer. “Yes, we have lavender in bloom, and it’s a genuine variety, not lavandin,” I was told by a lady at the nursery. “Please visit before we harvest it.” The following weekend my husband and I drove one hour to Limburg to see the lavender fields of Belgium.
If you have only experienced lavender in soaps or sachets, the scent may not seem exciting–camphorous, with a pronounced green salty note. Lavender in full bloom is a different story. Even before you see the pale violet fields, you can smell a warm floral aroma with the sweetness of hay and toasted almonds. The camphorous and green leafy notes are noticeable too, but their sharpness only enhances the languid richness of fragrance in the air.