Jeannie Ralston’s first book, The Unlikely Lavender Queen: A Memoir of Unexpected Blossoming, is the story of growth and maturation, both the personal and botanical variety. After a stimulating former life as a magazine writer in Manhattan and Austin, Ralston reluctantly moves to rural Texas as part of a bargain with her husband. Eventually, she takes over the lavender farm he has started and builds it into a successful business—in the process transforming herself, her community, and the agricultural industry of her area.
The book follows the development of Hill Country Lavender with its 4 1/2 acres of flowers, through droughts, grasshopper plagues and other agricultural set backs, and details Ralston’s parallel evolution. The book is about love, commitment and learning to let go. Ralston comes to realize that sometimes you don’t get everything you want out of life. Sometimes you get lavender.
For more than 23 years, Ralston has been writing for magazines, both on-staff and as a freelancer. Her work has been published in Life, Time, National Geographic, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Audubon, Texas Monthly, Glamour, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Real Simple and This Old House. She was a contributing editor for Allure for eight years, for Ladies Home Journal for three years and has held that position at Parenting magazine for the past eight years.
A native of Kingsport, Tennessee and a graduate of the University of South Carolina, Ralston now lives with her husband—photographer Robb Kendrick—and two sons in the charming colonial town of San Miguel de Allende in the central mountains of Mexico.
Ralston’s lavender life has gotten a second wind in Mexico. She is now a consultant for a lavender project, sponsored by the U.S. charity St. Anthony’s Alliance, that is helping a poverty-stricken pueblo mine purple-gold while the community’s men are off in the States. The hope is that the pueblo’s co-op will make enough money from distilling lavender oil and selling their soaps and sachets to a high-end hotel in San Miguel de Allende that the men will be able to stay in Mexico with their families.