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Pelindaba Lavender Farm



I’ve been putting off writing this entry.  Not because I didn’t want to write about it – I love this place – but because I took 48 photos of lavender!  Bushes, blossoms, bees on lavender, fields of lavender.  48 photos.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to go through and select just  a few from that number!!  Sure, a few are out of focus and a few are just plain bad, but that still leaves tons to cull through! 


Oh, and I know that some of you don’t realize that lavender is a culinary herb.  You think of it mostly as an aromatic in sachets, air fresheners, candles or relaxation aids such as eye covers or neck rolls.  But lavender has a proud history as a culinary herb.  According to a cookbook I purchased at the Pelindaba Lavender Farm, prior to WWI lavender was used in many recipes that now call for rosemary.  There is speculation that with the turmoil that the war brought along with loss of huge lavender fields south of London, due to disease, the available supply dropped and rosemary was substituted. 


Well, back to the "story".  As I mentioned in at least one other post about my time on San Juan Island Friday was a rainy day.  I had been touring around the island trying to dodge the showers and still see and do everything I had planned.  One of the places I wanted to visit was the lavender farm.  I’d been to their in-town shop in the past but had never taken the time to stop by the farm.  I was particularly interested as I grow several types of lavender and have been thinking more and more about how to put it to good use.  I recently had some lavender shortbread cookies that were so good!  And that just gave me a little kick in the pants to get it figured out.  


As I approached Pelindaba it began to pour!  I pulled into the lot and took a little time to organize myself and was planning how to minimize the effect of the rain on my time there.  While I was getting it all together the rain suddenly just stopped!  I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car to take advantage of the break to snap a "few" photos. 


First I walked out to the fields just to take in the amazing purple-hazed view.  It was really beautiful!  Then I took a few photos in the fields and eventually made my way back towards the gift shop.  Outside the gift shop is a display garden with many varieties of lavender, all marked so you know what you’re looking at.  I wound around the paths taking more photos.  One of the things you notice about lavender – besides the many shapes and variations in color – is that lavender plants are almost always covered with bees.  They just can’t get enough of the stuff.  The most common bee you’ll see on the plants is the bumble bee – the adorable, fuzzy good-natured bee that’s only purpose in life is to pollinate as many flowers as possible.  If you are afraid of bees this is one you don’t really need to worry about.  The only thing they are interested in is doing their job.  I think the only time they will sting is really by accident – if you squish them in some way you are likely to get jabbed by the stinger but they don’t really wield them as a weapon.  In fact, once on something like a lavender bush, where they become intoxicated with the pollen, you can actually pet them!  Very gently and carefully stroke their fuzzy little backs being careful not to damage their delicate wings or bodies. 


Next I made my way into the gift shop where I was greeted by all manner of lavender products!  On the porch (the gift shop is in a little house) there are stacks of cookies and candies made with lavender.  Inside the shop there are rooms devoted to personal care products, such as lotions, powders and bath oils; areas devoted to aroma products, such as candles and dried stems for the fire or barbecue; decorative items, such as wreaths and bouquets of dried flowers; and culinary products. 


There are multiple products in all categories but after picking up a couple of items like candles and bath salts I focused on the culinary category.  I was amazed at the breadth of products!  It was hard to make a decision about what to buy.  I ended up with a couple types of tea, lavender sugar, a couple of cookies, and lavender honey among other things.  Many of the things I purchased were to give me ideas of what to create on my own.  I think one of my favorite purchases though, is a little cookbook assembled by the folks at Pelindaba, called "Culinary Adventures with Lavender".  It’s a little spiral bound book with ideas and recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts and everything in between.  I’m inspired! 


Although the display gardens showcase maybe 20 or more varieties of lavender, I learned that at Pelindaba they really only use two varieties in their products.  Provence, for culinary items and Grosso for the fragrance items.  Provence is a bit milder, while Grosso provides an intense oil. 


The rain held off my whole time at the farm.  I was happy for the people there, too, as they were busy setting up for the annual Lavender Festival which was taking the place over the weekend.  Next time I’m back on the island I will definitely be back out at the farm and I may try to take advantage of the Lavender Fields Day Spa, too!
In the meantime I have my supply of lavender products (I’ve been drinking one of the teas nearly every day) and my cookbook for inspiration.  Now to harvest some from my yard and start experimenting! 
P.S.  I have no idea of the photos I used in this post were the "best".  I finally just gave up and rather randomly picked a few.  :-) 
  1. Unknown permalink
    25-Jul-2005 4:46 pm

    Well, I must say, at 48 photos, you were quite restrained! I\’m afraid when I went to the lavender festival (that Sunday), I took at least a hundred! Of course this means it\’ll take me hours to decide which ones to upload! (One rather amusing note: for some odd reason, I didn\’t get a single good shot of a bee on lavender, yet the butterflies were extraordinarily cooperative!)I\’ll be doing a post on Pelindaba in August as part of our focus on local products, but I may just have to send folks over here as well — lots of great info, and you actually took note of *which* varieties you were photographing in the demonstration garden, unlike me! :-)Have fun with the products, and next time you\’re at either the farm, the shop in town, or our farmer\’s market, you *have* to try the lavender lemonade. I, for one, am hooked.

  2. Aisha permalink
    25-Jul-2005 8:17 pm

    I think your photos were very nice and if you dont mind me asking what type of camera are you using? I only ask because I also take photos of various places and need a new camera.I remember when I first started studying culinary arts that I learned some of the many uses for lavender I was a little grossed out at first because I never seen or heard of lavender being used in those ways. Its so nice that you take the time to explore.Have a fabulous week!!!Hasta Luego.

  3. Culinary permalink
    26-Jul-2005 6:46 am

    Little Lady: I have been using a Sony Cybershot DSC-P200. It\’s a 7.2MP camera but I normally keep it at 3MP since, especially for web photos, you can\’t even use that high resolution. I\’ve had this camera a couple months and really love it although I\’m still figurin gout all the bells and whistles. I love cooking with lavendar as it adds such a wonderful fragrance as well as taste. Try it on lamp chops sometime – yum! mrs. D: 100 photos! Wow! I guess if it had been a nicer day I *might* have gotten that many but I feel sorry for you! :-) Odd about the bees and butterflies. I bet the bees were there but you just noticed the butterflies since they really draw attention. I suspect I didn\’t see butterflies because of the downpour. Once your post is up let me know – it would be great to cross link. Lavender lemonade sounds yummy! It\’s on my list! ~ B

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