It's nearly that time of year. When cherry blossom posts and wisteria hysteria start to recede from your Instagram feed, it means lavender season's practically upon us.
Here are some of our favourite lavender farms and fields to visit near London — all of them are welcoming visitors this year. Check websites for tickets and more details, and remember to make sure the lavender's in bloom before you make a special trip, as the season can vary by a couple of weeks.
Mayfield Lavender Farm, London
Just, *just* within the boundaries of London itself, Mayfield Lavender Farm gained Instagram fame a few years ago, partly thanks to the red phone box plonked strategically in the middle of a field.
The 25 acre farm is a sea of purple, enticing visitors to glide through it, as if in a purple-tinged dream. It gets very busy at weekends — visit on a weekday if possible. There's a cafe and shop on site too, plus tractor rides around the farm are available for an additional £2 per person.
Photography among the lavender is encouraged (there's even an official competition every year), but if you're taking part in a professional or extensive photoshoot, you'll need to register and pay a fee. No drones are allowed, and neither are picnics.
Open to the public: Open 11 June-31 August 2022, with lavender expected to bloom towards the end of June. Entry is £4.50 per adult, no advance booking required.
Mayfield Lavender Farm, 1 Carshalton Lane, Banstead, SM7 3JA.
The farm also has a nursery and farm shop based in Epsom which is open all year round
The Hop Shop and Castle Farm Lavender, Kent
If you've taken the train between Orpington and Sevenoaks during lavender season, you'll have seen the bright purple fields right next to the railway. They're part of the extensive Castle Farm empire — the largest producer of lavender in the UK.
The farm's 1,100 acres are spread all over this part of Kent, but the activity all takes place at The Hop Shop near Shoreham. If you visit, it's worth sampling the lavender ice cream available in the farm shop.
Open to the public: The Hop Shop farm shop is open all year, but access to other parts of the farm is only available in lavender season, late June-late July. Access is via a prebooked ticket only — choose from guided lavender tours (£10 adult/£6 child, from 24 June 2022), lavender picnics (adult £12/child £6, from 1 July 2022), or lavender field walks (adult £4/child £2.50, from 28 June 2022).
The Hop Shop at Castle Farm, Redmans Lane, Shoreham, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 7UB
Hitchin Lavender, Hertfordshire
If you want to know what 25 miles of lavender rows looks like, head to Hertfordshire and wander around in the Hitchin Lavender fields — you can even pick your own to take home.
Entry includes access to the fields, and for an extra £3, you can pick a bag of lavender to take home with you (bring your own scissors). Once you've worked up a sweat, lunches, cakes and drinks are available to buy in the cafe in the 17th century barn. You're also welcome to bring your own picnic.
There's a small museum on site, with a replica of the Perks & Llewellyn pharmacy, well-known in the 19th century for its lavender products.
If you can tear your eyes away from the lavender for a minute or two, the hillside location of the farm offers views all over the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire countryside.
Open to the public: Open now, until 29 July 2022. 11am-3pm each day is the busiest time each day, so aim for outside this period for the best experience. Tickets are £5 adult/£3 child, and need to be booked in advance. Following the lavender season, an open-air cinema takes over the fields (10-21 August 2022).
Hitchin Lavender, Cadwell Farm, Ickleford, Hertfordshire, SG5 3UA
Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm, Alton, Hampshire
For a grand day out in the opposite direction, head to the Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm. Visiting the lavender itself is usually restricted to certain open days, when you can stroll through the seven varieties of lavender being grown, as well as a wildflower field.
The rest of the time, the lavender shop is open to the public, but there's no access to the fields.
Open to the public: Open from 22 June 2022. £4 adult/£2 child, no pre-booking required.
Lavender Fields at Hartley Park Farm, Selborne Road, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 3HP