I was invited to try out 2 new menu items from this fantastic restaurant. In true Hillstone Winter Park style of under promising and over delivering, there were many more surprises in store. My last visit here was later in the evening, so I heard and saw with shaded light the magical lawn and herb garden, with magnificent views of Lake Killarney. On this after lunch visit, the veil was lifted.
Walking out the back door that leads to the lawn, to the far left, one can slightly notice the subtle rows of planters, over hangs, and colorful flowers. Walk closer to that side of the lawn and a complete transformation takes place. I have not had the privileged of visiting far off exotic locales that dreamy Travel and Leisure magazine writers lament about. But this little garden could easily be in their recounts of Southern France, Italy’s Almafi Coast, or some tiny little Mediterranean corner. There is even a little untouched romantic corner that we may cultivate in another post. Growing up in a tiny little South American country and having been close to the land all of my youthful days, I do remember the scents of earth, freshness of greens, and excitement of vibrant, colorful flowers. Apart from a distant college course with brief reference to sustainable irrigation, I had never seen this up close. Back in my youthful days, we irrigated with water cans. Labor intensive and a very uncontrolled way of wasting water.
Hillstone Winter Park, has an irrigation system that feeds the soil from within rather than over the top. Water is dispensed directly to the plants’ root, hence, there is no need to soak the entire area and waste water. There are several planters a little below waist height, ideal for tending to small plants. No back breaking, nor knee bending, just a little lean and the delicate job of tending can be accomplished. I would be way out of my league to list all of the herbs grown here. But clearly rosemary, cilantro, thyme, and beets grace the lawns. Beets? Oh yes…
There is a special project involving local school children and the planting of beets. The inspiration for this project is the cult following of Hillstone’s Veggie Burger, which is made of beets. On one specific planter,school children place their names on little name tags next to their plantings. They then come around on several occasions to take care of their plants. This serves as a perfect opportunity for children to be exposed to farming and the restaurant industry. Several times the children have cooking lessons and demonstrations with Hillstone Winter Park’s talented culinary team. What better way to engage the next generation of restaurateurs? The first lady, Michelle Obama, would be proud with her own White House garden initiative.