The British summer is synonymous with the heady scent of lavender, which comes into its own this month. Once-upon-a-time - think the 18th and 19th centuries - English lavender was hugely popular, but then fell out of favour. More recently it has come back into vogue thanks to arable farmers looking for alternative crops to plant. Now, during the months of June to August, parts of the countryside turn into shimmery shades of purple.
If you want to discover more about lavender - including how it's grown and what it's used for - you can't beat visiting an actual farm. Many are open to the public or hold open days where, for a small fee, you can wander through the fields and inhale that heady scent for yourself.
Many also have cafes and shops on site, where you can buy lavender goods or perhaps enjoy a cream tea.
Here's five lavender farms in the South of England that are worth a visit.
Arguably the best-known farm in the Cotswolds, Cotswold Lavender - on the outskirts of the village of Snowshill (near the National Trust property Snowshill Manor) - comes into its own every summer when more than half a million plants (of 40 different varieties) erupt into bloom. The lavender here is harvested then distilled into English lavender essential oils using traditional methods and aged for a year before use. You can visit the farm daily 10am to 5pm between 9 June and 5 August. Tickets are £4.
To find out more, please visit the Cotswold Lavender website.
Wander around the lavender fields, near Bath, where essential oils and dried lavender flowers are produced. The farm comprises two five-acre fields - the first is planted only with English Angustifolia lavender that bloom in June and July, the second has a mixture of English lavender and hybrid intermedia lavender that flowers later in July and August. Visitors are welcome Wednesday to Sunday between May and September. Entry is free.
To find out more, please visit the Somerset Lavender website.
For refreshments, food and accommodation close by, visit the Archangel in Frome (7.8 miles away).
Just 15 miles from London in the North Surrey Hills, Mayfield Lavender farm is set on 25 acres. The site was once part of a thriving lavender-growing industry in the 18th and 19th centuries before the plant fell out of fashion and suburbia encroached on the land. Today Mayfield Lavender is proud to grow lavender on one of the same fields from that time. Visitors can stroll through a purple sea of organic lavender seven days a week between June and September. Admission is £2.
To find out more, please visit the Mayfield Lavender website.
In the heart of the South Downs, near Chichester in West Sussex, this pretty farm only opens its doors to the public for a short time each July, so you will have to hurry if you wish to see it this year. Between 9 to 15 July, you can wander through four acres of Mailette lavender, a French Provencial variety famed for its high-quality oil, which is grown without the use of pesticides or fertiliser. Entry is £6.
To find out more, please visit the Lordington Lavender website.
In the heart of the Hampshire countryside you will find Hartley Park Farm, in Selborne, where third-generation farmers have been growing four varieties of English lavender for almost 20 years. Every July it holds open days - this year on 8, 9, 14 and 15 July - where for a small entry fee you can wander around the fields, go on mini tours, listen to talks and take a tractor and trailer ride around the farm.
For more information, please visit the Lavender Fields website