Yesterday we found ourselves sitting under a canopy of old oak and giant sugar pine trees, sipping Lavender martinis listening to the talented Highland Springs Ensemble.
We were at the Lavender Festival in Cherry Valley California, about 26 miles from our home in Palm Springs. The festival was held at the Highland Springs Resort. Now don’t let the Resort title fool you this is not a luxury resort but an amazing rustic Ranch Inn and steak house with a working organic farm that offers Event space for Weddings and, they hold a few festivals a year. They also run a summer Farm Camp for kids check out the site, what a wonderful experience your kid would have here, for sure.
It was a hot day at home 117º but here in this magical shady grove it was 10 degrees cooler. I know what your thinking, it’s still bloody hot and you’d be right. The heavenly scent of lavender permeates the hot dry air, and as we took a ramble through fields of lavender it transported me to Provence in the south of France. Who would of thought this place existed here in Beaumont, not me. We heard of the festival from the huge Billboard on the freeway.
This was not your average festival with food stands, booths, loud music and crowds of people. This had a certain refinement like going to a beautiful garden party, classical music filled the wood. Lights were strung through branches. Delicate pink and Peony flowers with white Hydrangeas and sprays of Lavender were arranged casually in old silver urns and placed around the tasteful booth area on the lawn. Lavender oils, lotions, soaps and candles were sold. Some women wore long flowing dresses and wide straw hats and beautiful young Asian families with their babies sat eating lunch at the Long wooden tables that were placed in the shade of the trees, small glass jars of wild flowers graced the table tops. I munched on my first corn of the season and yah! it was organic and locally grown in fact all the food was organic with meat, vegetarian, Vegan and Gluten free options. They had a veggie deli, Serving a crisp farm salad of field greens and shaved vegetables drizzled with a Lavender balsamic Vinaigrette. The juicy organic lamb came from their farm, and the dessert’s were scrumptious with Strawberry Lavender cheesecake, Lemon Lavender bars and Lavender honey ice cream.
We went to a seminar with an interactive talk about the many health benefits of lavender, oils, misters and how to apply it. We were bummed we missed the distillation demo of how their lavender oil is made as we were too busy eating and drinking.
The indoor seminar called Herbs to Table was given by a Master gardener Jean Weiss and we thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a few things. Did you know most herb flowers can be eaten? How about rose petal butter? I purchased her small book with wonderful recipes using herbs and look forward to making some of her dishes when our Kitchen remodel is done.
We checked out the Inn, their Bistro and Dining hall with its stunning views of, yes lavender and we bought some silky lavender lotion and lip balm and their Lavender Balsamic Vinegar.
They have horse drawn wagon tours ( with healthy well cared for horses by the looks of them) that will take you to see the Ancient 1,100 year old Oak Tree. Best to walk by yourself in my view as you can spend as much time as you like with this extraordinary magnificent tree. Tears welled up in my eyes when I hugged this gentle giant. My own mortality smacked me in the face and thoughts of my parents and grandparents who have already passed on.
Wyatt Earp, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, Bob Hope and other notable figures were regulars in their time at the Highland Springs Ranch Inn. It was a one time a place to come juice and heal. If you are curious about the history of this place check out the site. It’s so interesting.