Fw: Ohmmm and some curious Restaurant Ideas
‘Ohmmmm’ and some Curious Restaurant Ideas.
I was amazed at how young the garden is at the Babylonstoren Wine Estate; in 2007 Karen Roos, who owns the vineyard asked Patrice Taravella to come and lay out what was in his mind as soon as he had finished designing and recreating a cloistered garden on the site of a restored twelfth century monastery at Preiure (should have an acute accent on the last e) Notre Dame d’Orsan. For Karen, Patrice created eight acres of romantic shapes and areas full with plants to nourish the heart and body and allow the mind to restore its sense of equanimity.
Just before we dived into the pumpkin passage a hidden vista through the woods filled with 7000 clivia lilies beneath the shade giving indigenous olive trees showed the stream, running over two weirs and providing the essential life-giving mountain water to the plants and animals.
Humour in abundance was provided intentionally and unintentionally. Our guide showed us the chicken run where the ‘lazy’ birds are made to exercise for their food with an obstacle course including hanging their favourite foliage a metre above the ground so they have to jump for it. We were told it also improves the eggs, ‘though I’m not quite sure how… there’s a yolk in there somewhere, maybe an elongated one.
By this time we had spent a generous hour and a half with the guide in the sun, wandering and listening and were now quite hungry and thirsty so we meandered towards the greenhouse restaurant, past the espalier plum trees where the thin wooden supports were carried diagonally over the fixed frame and curved around at the top so they formed a perfect heart shape with the next flexible support curved in the opposite direction. In the spring and during weddings, when they are covered in white flowers, [rw1] couples pose for photos beneath the natural symbols of love.
Nebuchadnezzar had the same idea of elevating plant growth in his Hanging Gardens of Babylon to give relief to his beloved wife who pined for the flora in the hills and mountains of her childhood home.
It was partly through my affection for Rob that I refrained from laughing out loud when a small accident befell him at the lunch table. They have a rather strange attitude towards distancing here, I hope only because of Covid, where the staff waiting at table put down the wine and dishes of food at the table next to the diners and leave them to pour drinks and distribute the meal.
Fair enough one might say, but not me, being waited on is one of the pleasures of dining out and if they were so concerned for their staff then along with masks they could wear floral gloves! The unintentional humour came when handing around the food plates that were wedged, for some reason, inside bamboo rice steamers. Werner handed mine to Rob while I was passing Christina’s to her. With a mysterious reaction between gravity and balance the dish separated from the steamer base like a demonic flower opening and turned itself upside down in Rob hand’s, the food dividing up its landing place between the table, chair and brim of my hat. I even found a pomegranate seed in said hat the next day when I was washing it.
Poor Rob was so embarrassed and apologetic, so that was when I had to fight the laughter, but, as I said, he managed to prevent any of the food falling on to the floor and I ate the lot. The next photo shows the untipped version of Werner’s meal which was identical to mine at the outset.
After lunch the boys wandered off, suspiciously back towards the plump plums hanging tantalisingly from the espaliers, while Christina and I headed off for a little peace and meditation in the medicinal garden beneath Linnaeus’ benign gaze.
Christina is sitting in one of the two bamboo shade houses that appear to be suspended over square pools of water, they aren’t as I tried moving one, but like the sure strength of a plant stem that allows a bee to safely alight on a flower, fish are able to move about freely in the water beneath and can have a long adventure right down the little tiled stream through two more ponds, one uncovered and into the tropical house at the end and then back upstream. No captive pond for them.
You can see the layout of the garden from the green display board. How all the different parts of the body and their respective ailments are listed and their cures planted in small raised beds around the garden. Mankind’s ills were cured or at least alleviated with plants (and surgery) long before Crick’s or Boots came along, weren’t they?
What do you think of Linneaus’ ‘Prelude to the Betrothal of Plants’? You can see where he was coming from as a student of Medicine and Botany and an incurable romantic as well. I like his motto, ‘Wonder at Everything, even Everyday things”, so I went on to wonder at the exquisite pink dragonfly who allowed me so close to see its transparent double pair of wings set at right angles to its body while at rest on the lily bud, long enough for me to take a series of photos before arching its tail high ready to take off, just as humans have learned to do in helicopters. We learn well when we learn from nature.
On our way to find the boys Christina and I peeped in on a lawn of white flowering camomile and were quite tempted to lie down in its soft greenery for a snooze, but instead we had a chat with a gardener about the hanging [rw2] calabash gourds and their uses. There are as many as the human imagination will allow including steamed for the dinner plate, hollowed for a water container and tobacco pipe and ornamental for display. One could also hollow one out and make windows and set tea lights inside; can you think of any others? Well yes, a cosh came to my mind also. “Charged in possession of a calabash mi’llud!”