Life at Fruit & Spice Park is like driving towards a familiar destination, winding down a country road – the twists and turns are familiar, yet there are still some surprises to keep the journey exciting. Unlike a country road, this year seems to be passing at highway speed. Ideally, the year would pass at a slower pace like the country road, giving us time to take in the sights. So in the spirit of slowing down to appreciate the simple joys surrounding us, this month I will highlight an element of beauty, as well as utility.
The Butterfly Pea, Clitoria ternatea, is a vining perennial with striking deep blue flowers. As a legume, it produces pea pods that are edible when young and tender, but it is the flowers that are the main attraction. Their deep, bright blue color is used to make tea and to color rice in many cultures in tropical Asia. This plant should be in every South Florida landscape because it requires little care once established and can be propagated (and shared!) easily by seed from the copious amounts of peas produced. Simply give this beautiful butterfly something to climb and away she will go.
Please purists, please resist the urge to take me to task for using the word “tea” to describe what is technically described as an infusion. We also grow proper Tea, Camelia sinensis, but I will leave that huge subject for another day. To make the drink, simply take petals or whole flowers of the butterfly pea and steep or boil in water. Most often, other ingredients are added, like honey, sugar, and lemongrass. Adding lemon juice will turn the mixture purple, for an interesting effect. Another method used to enjoy in the future is to freeze the mixture in ice cube trays to make deep blue ice cubes.
So here we are back around to the winding road and all of its charms. The subject of this article came to me quite by accident, as I stopped to discuss some recent plantings with our ever-diligent Horticulturist and Volunteer Coordinator, Louise King. I looked to my right and beheld the dazzling blue flowers of the Butterfly Pea. I was quite by chance that we chose to have our conversation at that exact spot, but it was just the inspiration that I needed. As you travel your own winding road, I hope it leads you here to the Fruit and Spice Park, and I hope you find beauty along the way.
I would also like to remind readers about our upcoming Heritage Festival and Craft Fair, to be held on December 14-15, 2019 here at the beautiful Fruit and Spice Park. We will have expanded food and music selections to suit all tastes, with a local emphasis. We are calling all local artists or craft vendors to exhibit and sell at this fantastic pre-holiday opportunity. Please contact the park office at 305-247-5727 for more information, and watch our website redlandfruitandspice.com for updates.