When everyone told her that it was impossible to grow lavender in Lika, Melani Ajduković proved them all wrong.
Melani is the first and only person to produce lavender in the mountainous Croatian region, and currently has two hectares of lavender fields in the heart of Lika in the picturesque village of Mutilić near Udbina.
Despite what she was told, the location of her fields, some 700 meters above sea level below the majestic Ivan’s Peak, have been perfect for growing the aromatic plant.
Born in Germany, Melani spent 30 years living in the Istrian town of Rovinj where she was a jewellery designer. Eight years ago she moved to Lika, where her ancestors were originally from and where she had inherited land.
Melani finished courses in phytoaromatherapy and studied lavender growing in Provence, France. She took this acquired knowledge back to Lika and started to plant lavender and started her business Ajda Lavanda.
Lavender needs a lot of sun, and that is something the Udbina area has plenty of. According to data, Udbina, along with the island of Hvar has the most annual sunshine hours in Croatia.
“It doesn’t require a lot of water and its only enemy here is wild boar,” says Melani, who is trying to fend them off by using barb wire.
“We harvest lavender in the middle of July. I try to use everything nature has to offer.”
From her yields, Melani producers a number of products, including lavender hydrosol, dried flowers, tea, essential oil and salts, which are also ECO-certified and carry the Lika Quality label.
Melani explains that true lavender (lavandula angustifolia) loves to grow on elevated grounds, ideally beyond 600 meters above sea level, and what we usually see on Croatian islands is Lavandin (budrovka), a similar plant that contains Camphor.
Unlike its relative Lavandin, that also has numerous health benefits, true lavender oil can be applied on human skin.
On her idyllic farm, surrounded by lavender fields and spectacular views, Melani also offers accommodation.