Summer at La Bonita may look like an endless holiday of lounging around the pool and eating fresh produce from our kitchen garden. Up to a point, that's true. We do spend the late afternoons down by the pool and yes, there's a lot of cooking that goes on! But what many people don't realize is that the constant high temperatures, day in, day out, result in massive evaporation and consequently tree stress. So ensuring that the irrigation is working properly takes priority over anything else.
That means that we get up early, and take it in turns to check each drip-feed sector on the farm. Every tree has one or two individual water sprinklers or drip buttons which must work optimally, otherwise the tree will wilt and quite quickly drop fruit and even die.
We were also very busy with guests this summer. We hosted two art retreats, one at the end of August, and the second at the beginning of October. The first was with Julie Sajous and her wonderfully spirited students who quickly threw themselves into sketching and pink gins as if there was no tomorrow. We had a lot of fun and conversations were definitely animated!
The second art workshop was with botanical artist Shevaun Doherty, who always manages to blend her artistic flair with meticulous tuition. Her guests flew in from all parts of the globe and we were able to truly enjoy the last of the summer in painting down by the pool. Shevaun also gave a lesson on bees and on painting on vellum, which was fascinating. I never cease to be amazed by the high standard of work produced at La Bonita, and also how genuinely kind and friendly everyone is.
Last but not least, we had our second lemon harvest of the year. Usually, we get pickers to come and harvest the fruit, pack it up and take it to the processing plant. It's the most cost effective and time saving way to get the crop off the trees. However, this year, because the price of lemons was so low, we decided to pick it ourselves in the hope of at least turning a small profit. So, during August, over a period of about ten days, we picked and picked and picked. It's not that easy to twist and pull the lemons off the trees as there's thorns on the branches but the smell of lemon zest as we move along the grove more than makes up for the occasional scratch.