Almond blossoms, everywhere…

Ready for Spring…. it’s coming!

The Luberon Valley.

Looking down on a garden in Ménerbes – getting green already.

The Sound of Music in the Luberon at this time of year is the chain saw and the wood chomping machines.

Even the local authorities get in on the act and it’s a busy time for the tree surgeons.

All new growth from the previous year is trimmed off. It’s brutal but effective.

The chompnig machine – makes a real racket!

Another tree gets the surgeon’s treatment

February is the time when Provençal gardens get the big ‘clean up’. Shrubs and trees are trimmed and cleaned for the spring; flower beds prepared to withstand potentially one or two big frosts and then to emerge from winter hibernation.

At the end of Febraury, the fruit trees are pruned; in March the roses and olive trees; and then come the beginning of April, the decorative hedging such as buxes.

Bastide les Amis is no different – in fact the soundtrack of February in the Luberon is the chain saw.

View from Maison Olive’s terrace.

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Our big late winter and spring project is complete! The Enchanted Garden with its little house, fully equipped kitchen, easy chairs, bench area and all encircled by those magic bamboos! Already, children have delighted in their trip down fantasy lane – away from ipads, touch screens and the like. Holiday bliss!

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To view the Bastide les Amis website, click here.

Madame's dining room table - packed with wild sweet peas from the Luberon National Park.

Madame’s dining room table – packed with wild sweet peas from the Luberon National Park.

 

The Luberon National Park abounds with the wild sweet pea at this time of the year. Here’s a little gem from a well-known ‘forager’ and wild plant boffin – Sergei   Boutenko.

YUMMMMMMMERS! If you haven’t tried this one you’re in for a treat! Wild sweet pea is incredibly delicious with a flavor that is reminiscent of pea sprouts.

This plant is great in salads, Asian dishes, soups, stir-fries, or just as an exotic garnish. One might think that because this wild edible is related to store-bought peas it would be natural to harvest the pea pods, but this is not so! Wild sweet pea pods are tough to chew and quite are bland tasting. Instead of eating the pods, try devouring a few curly tips (called tendrils) or a couple brilliantly pink flowers. You’ll be hooked in no time! Watch the following video for identification tips:

Over the years wild sweet pea has received a bad rap in the press. The worst blow to its image came from the story Into The Wild, which depicts a young man (Christopher McCandless) dying after ingesting a wild-crafted pea variety. If you’re interested to read a summary of what supposedly happened you can google: “Into The Wild” and read all about it. However, be careful what you choose to believe as there is a lot of false information out there. Since McCandless’s death, various wild pea varieties have been studied extensively and it has been concluded that none of them are poisonous. In his book, Nature’s Garden, Samuel Thayer does a fantastic job summarizing the true events that lead to McCandless’s demise. I highly recommend this book and think that all serious foragers should have it in their library. Thayer states that the official coroner’s report on McCandless states that the young man was not poisoned, but died of starvation. Unfortunately, the media (authors, news reporters, movie producers, and the like) decided that that wasn’t a good enough story and blamed it on an innocent pea plant.

I have have questioned the edibility of wild peas over the years and have come to conclude that they are harmless. I have eaten them hundreds of times without any ill effect and will continue eating them again and again. By mentioning Into The Wild I am not trying to scare you, just prepare you. When you start consuming wild edibles on a regular basis, the people close to you will begin to worry about your well being and bring up “the case of the guy in Into The Wild.” I think it’s a good idea to read several different account of this event and decide for yourself where you stand on the matter!

Bastide les Amis, Ménerbes, Luberon.

Bastide les Amis, Ménerbes, Luberon.

One of Madame's favourite statues now lit within the new Bastide les Amis BBQ.

One of Madame’s favourite statues now lit within the new Bastide les Amis BBQ.

Wide stone staircase at Bastide les Amis, Ménerbes

Wide stone staircase at Bastide les Amis, Ménerbes

Beautifully ploughed field awaiting its potatoes to be planted - near Ménerbes.

Beautifully ploughed field awaiting its potatoes to be planted – near Ménerbes.

Flowers, shrubs everywhere.

Flowers, shrubs everywhere.

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