What Happens at a Lavender Harvest? A Step by Step Guide on Hvar

Total Croatia News

Miranda Milicic Bradbury

July 19, 2019 – What actually happens at a lavender harvest? A step by step guide of one of the finest and most aromatic parts of Dalmatian culture. 

There is a lot written about ‘authentic tourism experiences.’ Authentic is a buzzword that is cast around as a means of indicating something quality, local and traditional. Most have very little to do with authenticity, and as Croatia goes down its insane route of numbers, numbers, numbers, apartments, apartments, apartments, the very thing that makes Dalmatia so special is being lost – perhaps forever. 

But there are exceptions, thankfully, and arguably the most authentic tourist experience I have ever had – in any country – took place recently on the top of Hvar for this, my seventh year. 


When not busy snapping the likes of David Bowie, or bringing Jodie Foster to visit Hvar from his home in L.A., celebrity photographer Jadran Lazic can be found on top of the island in his beloved fields of lavender. Jadran kindly invited me to his first ever harvest back in 2013, as just three of us harvested the small bushes for the first time. Since then, his lavender has grown majestically, and it has been part of my annual calendar since then to rise at 04:30 and join him for this most beautiful and authentic experiences. 

For those who want to learn what a truly authentic experience is like, I decided to document the whole process this year. 


With about 20 pickers these days, a few more sickles were required that that first year. No hammers, so anyone who thinks that harvesting lavender is a Communist conspiracy – relax. 

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And, as you can see from the lead photo, the pickers had company on their sickles.  This is golden Bogomoljka, or praying mantis. Bogomoljka is also the term used for a girl from the eastern Hvar village of Bogomolje. And, I was told yesterday, apparently also for a woman who goes to church frequently. I am not sure which is the most dangerous. 

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And so to the fields. I will concede that the chilled Lasko while I worked was not so authentic, but every fat pink keyboard warrior has his price. 


The team was made up of Jadran’s friends and family, including three generations of the women in his life – Mum (aged 87), wife and daughter. 

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There were five kids aged 10 to 13, getting a chance to experience a tradition of their grandparents. One had even come from Russia. 

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The Mediterranean as It Once Was. Absolutely blissful. 

Time for me to hand over to the experts. Here is Jadran introducing his field and demonstrating how to harvest lavender. 

The undoubted star of the lavender harvest is Jurica from Vrisknik. Not only was he the best at harvesting, but his fresh lamb was the perfect reward after a couple of hours in the field. In the video above, Jurica explains how his lavender picking career started at the age of nine.  

And then, spontaneously, the music started. Workers in the field, singing their traditional Dalmatian tunes. Mesmerising.  

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Harvesting lavender is thirsty work, and it is thankfully a Zuja-free zone – we are talking about authenticity after all…  

Jurica and Dinko – stars in the field – turned their attention to feeding the weary workers. We need more sea salt, Jadran!

And after the simple but delicious meal of lamb, salad and bread, time for some wine and song to accompany the setting sun (this year’s harvest was done in the early evening for the first time). And what better tune than “Eyes the Colour of Lavender.” 

Our work was done, but Jadran had more the next day, taking the lavender bags to be distilled into oil in nearby Humac. I have never seen him work so hard…

And the results of our labour, just over four litres this year.  

It is done as a labour of love, and I did smile when this Split boy tells me that every night in L.A. he puts a couple of drops of lavender oil on his pillow, and he sleeps like a baby dreaming of his beloved Dalmatia. 


This is how the fields of Hvar looked as recently as 1985. Imagine what an authentic tourist experience it could be if it looked like that again.

Our lavender harvest was not quite so authentic, however, for there were no donkeys involved. Take a look at this incredible 1970 video of the lavender harvest as it once was

And could be again. 



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