By Chelsea Rose Moore
Cyndie Rinek is a self-described “grower of things,” or more specifically, a grower of lavender. With one thousand plants in the ground, she grows 98 varieties in her gardens. But she does more than simply grow lavender. She’s turned her love for the plant into a successful business called Blooming Hill Gardens & Gift Shop.
For her, lavender is so much more than a business: It’s her deepest passion, and her favorite conversation topic. “It became an interest. It became a hobby. It became a passion – and now a business.”
Her husband is a landscape architect, and has lent his talents to developing Blooming Hill’s dreamy gardens and fields. As a plant lover and certified arborist, he has an eye for a well-designed space. “Peter believes that if you’re sitting in the living room, you should be able to look out the window and see a beautiful setting. Even in the winter, when everything is bare, you should still be able to see good structure,” Rinek said.
She regularly gives presentations about lavender, accompanied by a slideshow and handouts. She loves sharing her passion, and enjoys imparting her own experience and knowledge to eager listeners. She frequently speaks to garden clubs by hosting them or by traveling to a venue of their choosing.
Although lavender is a familiar smell, she believes it is important to delve deeper and discuss the plant’s healing properties. Used for thousands of years, lavender has been found in Arabic cookbooks dating back to the 10th century. Back then, it was almost as sacred as papyrus, and was used for all sorts of purposes, even for paper. “Lavender is a fascinating plant. It’s been around for 2,500 years. You can do so much with it. You can eat it, cook with it, use it for aromatherapy. It’s antibacterial and antiseptic.” Its aroma is known to produce a calming effect on humans and animals, and can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Guests interested in learning more about lavender should attend one of the events offered throughout the year. She hosts five public teas, a full tea for Mother’s Day, and an annual Lavender Festival, where guests can wander through her fields and pick their own lavender. She even has a booth at the Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival and at the Bluemont Fair.
In her gift shop, she carries unique items for the home, garden, and kitchen. The shop – and Rinek’s whole property – is filled with whimsy. But her culinary items are perhaps most interesting. She sells lavender for use in cocktails, marinades, and desserts; she blends her own teas by infusing lavender with herbs; and she makes a lavender salt and a sugar. With three beehives on her property, she produces her own lavender-infused honey (the honey alone is worth a visit to Blooming Hill!).
Perhaps most notably, she sells lavender ice cream. A few years ago, she was reading Victoria Magazine and happened on a recipe for lavender blueberry ice cream. Intrigued, she made it for her family, her garden club, and dinner guests – and everyone loved it. She started hunting for more recipes to develop additional flavors, and partnered with Mt. Crawford Creamery for production, a 70-acre dairy farm located near Harrisonburg, Virginia. She offers five flavors in half cups, pints, and quarts: lavender honey lemon, lavender blueberry, lavender chocolate, lavender rose, and lavender dark chocolate chunk.
She has also collaborated with Purcellville’s StoneHouse Meadery to create a lavender mead.
“[This business] is one of the most fun, gratifying things,” she said, “Especially when you get people who come back year after year – it’s very gratifying. We’ve developed so many new friends. Someone told me they come here for the experience. [The most rewarding thing for me] is really the people: the act of sharing with people.” ML
Blooming Hill Garden & Gift Shop is located at 19929 Telegraph Springs Rd, Purcellville. The gift shop is open every Friday and Saturday, from 10am – 5pm.
To learn more about lavender events and teas, visit www.bloominghillva.com.