Driving towards Franschhoek in early summer, no one can miss the beautiful lavender fields in full bloom. In their midst are a beautiful old building and an ancient oak tree. Really a picture to behold and you are easily forgiven if, for a moment, in your thoughts you were transported to Provence.
This scene, fit for an oil painting, plays off across the road from La Motte’s entrance and the historic building and lavender fields do indeed form part of the estate.
There is uncertainty as to the specific year the charming cottage was built, but 1712 is painted on the structure and it is believed that one of La Motte’s first owners, the French Huguenot Pierre Joubert, could have build it as a home for one of his three sons.
Built from stone, the walls are extremely thick and the beams are made of unfinished eucalyptus trunks. (To learn more about the historic buildings on La Motte, join our Historic Walk on Wednesday mornings).
The Cattle Post
During the early 18th century, the French Huguenot,s Pierre Joubert and Gabriël du Toit, farmed on La Motte with grain and cattle (and wine) and centuries later the building is still called the Veepos or Cattle Post. Despite the name, it is used today for the processing of the ethereal oils harvested from the estate and the small building are encapsulated by the aroma of ethereal oil plants!
Whilst being a pretty sight, the lavender fields are farmed commercially. The French cultivar, Lavandula x intermedia Abrialis, planted on the estate is popular for both its flowers and oil.
Growing conditions in the Franschhoek Valley are ideal for lavandine and in 2005 3,7 hectares of lavandine plantations were established on La Motte. As proved by oil analyses, the plants are perfectly suited to La Motte’s well-drained sandy soils with a pH of approximately 7. Cultivation is fully organic, avoiding the use of synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides, weed killers and plant growth regulators.
Organically farmed Lavender
The flower stem of the French Lavender grown at La Motte, is the longest of all cultivars and is therefore ideal for cut flowers. These beautiful bunches are available from the La Motte Farm Shop during the flowering season which usually starts early December and last for more or less a month until early January.
Bunches of Lavender available from the Farm Shop
The Lavender plants are also used for their oil and at La Motte the ethereal oils harvested from the Lavender as well as other ethereal oil plants grown on the estate, are being used in a range of body products, called Arôme de La Motte.
A range of body products made from ethereal oils harvested on the estate, called Arôme de La Motte
The range includes a Hand & Body Lotion, Hand Wash, Shower & Bath Gel, Room Freshener, Massage Wax Candle, Ethereal Oil and Palm Soap. The products share the attributes of the ethereal oils they are made of, such as the the therapeutic and healing properties of lavandine, antiseptic properties of buchu, the calming and anti-bacterial properties of Cape chamomile, the anti-inflammatory properties of geranium, the calming and antiseptic properties of bergamot and the skin toning properties of grapefruit oil.
The Arômes de La Motte range is perfect for everyday use and, with its elegant packaging, makes for beautiful gifts. The range is available from the La Motte Farm Shop.
In season, the Lavender is also used in the restaurant and while it adds a pretty touch of purple to the plate, it also lends flavour. Try this easy recipe from our Cape Winelands Cuisine cookbook (p. 31) for a Lavender Cream – ideal served with a fresh fruit salad or granola.
To make 1 cup (250 ml) of Lavender Cream – enough for 10 servings – whip 1 cup (250 ml) fresh cream with 3 Tbsp (45 ml) sugar (or to taste), and fold in ½ tsp (2.5 ml) chopped fresh lavender flowers.