In the heart of the Arizona desert, Carolyn and John Blair built Life Under the Oaks Lavender Farm, a rural oasis of lavender fields, event space, workshops and a shop filled with fragrant lavender products. At the center is a colorful she shed that is used for drying the lavender stems. Visitors are welcome throughout the year and we recommend going in the fall.
One hot summer day in August, we drove up to a small town about 35 miles from Tucson, Arizona. There, after passing by a few scattered businesses we turned into Carolyn Blair’s little paradise: Life Under the Oaks Lavender Farm.
Little Lavender Slice of Heaven
Carolyn and her husband welcomed us and we spent a delightful morning getting to know this extraordinary family farm and picnic space. The Blairs acquired a 10-acre parcel of land in this unique area of cool mountain breezes and old oak trees in 2018. It’s open to the public year-round and offers an immersive day of falling in love with nature in general, and lavender in particular.
“People have a hard time believing they’re in Arizona when they’re here,” Carolyn states, remembering the surprised outbursts from visitors in the past. “We are at a much higher elevation than Tucson and cooler because of that.”
Working long hours and mostly seven-day workweeks, the Blairs spent many years painstakingly turning the soil, removing dead plants and weeds, grading and landscaping their working farm. They were delighted to learn that the climate and topography made for ideal conditions for certain species of lavender, especially Grosso, Provence, and Royal Velvet. The farm’s website states that “the unique combination of high elevation, arid climate and sunshine provides the perfect environment for lavender to flourish and produce high quality oil.”
Carolyn works hard to produce a variety of products made from the annual harvest or inspired by lavandula. All kinds of cleansing and beauty products, home decor, sachets, dishware and gifts can be found in the newly built gift shop.
The farm dries its lavender on the premises in … you guessed it … the prettiest little she shed you ever did see. Painted in pleasing blue and gray tones, the shed is punctuated by a brilliant yellow door. Inside, the walls are blanketed in racks of lavender drying upside down. The dark, dry interior allows the stems to dry thoroughly and the buds to retain their purple color.
During meal events at the farm, visitors fight for the little bistro table inside the shed, where they can nibble on cheeses, sip their wine, and smell the unending freshness of lavender drying all around them.
What to Do at Life Under the Oaks
Life Under the Oaks Lavender Farm is open year-round Wednesday through Sunday. The best time to visit is between September and December for crisp fall weather and the chance to do a bit of holiday shopping for the lavender lovers on your list.
If you’re staying for a few days in Arizona you can plan to spend a full day at the farm (which would be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Events and things to do include:
- Morning or afternoon picnic. While reserving your farm entry tickets, pre-order a delicious breakfast or lunch. It will be ready for you when you arrive at the picnic area, nestled under some ancient oak trees.
- Wander the pathways. You will hear how the lavender is planted, grown, harvested and dried. There are lots of pretty lookout points for taking photos and simply enjoying the scenery. The old oaks, lavender fields and native flowers and grasses creates a breathtaking experience.
- Shop for lavender gifts. Carolyn and John just finished a gorgeous little shop (see photo below) that is stocked with all kinds of lavender items from embroidered towels to sachets, soaps and dried lavender bouquets.
- Plan a special event. The farm welcomes groups for private events such as school field trips, birthday parties or showers. It’s also a popular spot for small weddings. Just go to the website and look under Visit | Private Events for more details.
- The donkeys. Children will love the farm for its beauty, fun meandering pathways and also the donkeys. These guys are incredibly cute and frisky – make sure you stop by their corral to say heehaw.
For a glimpse of a wild and fragrant Arizona you’ve likely never had before, consider putting Life Under the Oaks Lavender Farm on your must-see list. Let us know if you go in the comments!