Lavender Party

A Chatham couple hosts a summer gathering to celebrate their fondness for the beloved perennial and harvest season.

By Lisa Leigh Connors | Photography by Marcy Ford

On a picture-perfect day in June, French-themed music produced by a clarinetist and an accordion player wafts through the air. Antique tables covered with vintage linens are decorated with arrangements of freshly cut flowers. A giant basket holds bouquets of lavender tied with purple string. Guests enjoy libations and amuse-bouches while overlooking an expansive lavender garden on a hill.

Three-tier cake with lavender buttercream

Welcome to Faye and Charles Van Buren’s lavender party—a gathering held since 2009 with friends and family—that celebrates Faye’s love for the beautiful perennials and the harvest season.

Faye, a native Texan who bought their Chatham summer home in 2006, started with just half a dozen or so lavender plants and has since expanded her garden to include more than 20 different varieties of lavender (see page 75 for complete list). “I purchased most of the lavender that I have grown from Cynthia (Sutphin) of Cape Cod Lavender Farm,” says Faye. “She has been a tremendous inspiration for me.” Faye has also purchased plants from Agway of Cape Cod in Chatham and Crocker Nurseries in Brewster.

Poached salmon with herb mayonnaise

Faye’s passion for both lavender and everything French started when she lived a short time in Paris near Place Saint-Sulpice.
“I would go over to the garden all the time and I just loved France. I’m a Francophile deep down inside.”

So it was fortuitous when she met Christophe Gest, executive chef of Pain D’Avignon, who is originally from Lyon, France, a couple of years ago. Faye, who hires a guest chef every year (previous chefs have included Jonathan Haffmans of Vers and Betsy Hunt of Pampered Palate), asked Christophe and his wife, Elizabeth, to cook up a menu for their “Love of Lavender” 2016 celebration. Among the menu’s highlights: A potato and lavender salad, cucumber cup and smoked salmon mousse, and a three-tier cake with lavender buttercream. Christophe also made lavender cookies using a recipe from his childhood.

“I love parties and I love bringing friends together,” says Faye, adding that Christophe and Elizabeth will again be the guest chefs for the 2017 celebration. “It just continues to grow.”

Every July, Faye Van Buren harvests her lavender and makes bouquets tied with purple string to give away to friends and family and also delivers them to homes for the elderly on the Cape. She also says they make perfect hostess gifts. “Whenever I go to someone’s house, I always bring lavender and they are so excited,” says Faye.


M. Smith & Company created Tussie Mussie placards


Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe sugars purchased from Scout in Dennis


Polder Gold (Goats milk Gouda) from The Chatham Cheese Company


This bouquet of lavender is called Coconut Ice

Local Resources

Brillat-Savarin and Polder Gold (Goats Milk Gouda):

The Chatham Cheese Company, 902 Main St., Chatham

Eiffel Tower-shaped sugars:

Scout, 776 Route 6A, Dennis

Tussie Mussie placecards and String:

M. Smith and Company, 400 Main St., Chatham

Table flowers:

Arranged by Greta Ribb (with flowers from her own garden), Chatham Farmers Market

Domaine de Mourchon wines:

Main Street Wine and Gourmet, 42 Main St., Orleans

Dishes, serving pieces, baskets:

Picnic Fashion, formerly located at 400 Main St. in Chatham, owned by Faye’s dear friend Becky Finn. Her store is now located in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Faye continues to shop with Becky via telephone.