Lovely Lemon Verbena

Herbal tea is really popular in Germany, but there is one sort I will not buy from a store or market. Lemon Verbena. Or Vervain. It simply does not have that gentle rounded flavour you get when you grow your own. So some years ago I started growing my own.

Lemon Verbena, also know as Lippia citriodora or Aloysia triphylla, is sadly not hardy enough for our climate, so I grow it in pots. In a sunny and sheltered spot, with some shade from the strong afternoon sun, it thrives. I have managed to harvest enough to last me through the winter already this year. (I drink one cup a day). So my next harvest will be for gifts, especially for my niece who also appreciates this lovely tea.

Harvesting is simple. Just snip fresh growth, shaping the shrub as you go, and taking care not to shorten it by too much as to weaken the plant. I cut mine by about a third (in autumn by about half). In spring and summer it will start producing new stems and leaves immediately.

Drying the leaves thoroughly is very important if you want to store them. I strip them from the stems, spread them out on a baking sheet and leave them in an airy place, out of direct sunlight, turning them every day. Within a few days they have withered completely and can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year. (I always add a piece of pasta to absorb any possible remaining bit of moisture).

If I have some strong healthy plants in autumn I will overwinter them in my stairwell, which is very light but not heated. I will water very very sparsely and most of the leaves will turn yellow and drop. But as soon as the plants are given some warmth and water in spring, they start regenerating. By the middle of May they can go back outside and be gently acclimatised to sunny conditions. From my experience night-time temperatures shouldn’t be below about 10°C. However, I always order new organic plants for the Spring in case mine don‘t revive. I can never have too many! 😉

Do you grow Lemon Verbena? Perhaps you have some tips I haven‘t mentioned?

Here are a couple of links to some recipes using this herb that I have posted in the past.

Lemon Verbena/Lemon Verbena Sorbet (vegan)

Lemon Cake (not vegan)

Or simply add a couple of leaves to an iced drink.

They smell wonderful. 😃

Now, talking of iced drinks…

Stay cool! 😉😎☀️

In a Vase on Monday: Fizzy lemonade

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling in the Garden leads this meme where we are asked to share a vase using materials from our gardens.

It is a damp grey Monday here, so a vase is just what we need to brighten up the kitchen. It has been very hot, so the rain and cooler temperatures today are so welcome! The Alchemilla has flopped in the rain, so that was a clear choice for the framework of my vase this week.

My Herb Bed contains some Hypericum perforatum which flowered bang on time for midsummer‘s day again as well as this dark-leafed one which isn‘t quite flowering yet. In fact I thought it was a goner when it got frozen back by freezing East winds in the early spring. But it has bounced back.

It is planted near the pale green Hypericum, these red Geums (G. chiloense ‘Blazing Sunset’) and the yellow Anthemis tinctoria, which is a pleasing combination.

And since I was in the Herb Bed I decided to cut some of the Lemon Balm which is getting rather vigorous. I must admit I never use it, preferring my Lemon Verbena for tea. But when I was putting a few sprigs in the vase with all that frothy Alchemilla I couldn‘t help but think of lemonade!

Some Stipa tenuissima (also in the Herb Bed), a broken stem of Calamagrostis (the sparrows?) and a Nigella seedhead saved from a previous vase were added as extras.

And my first Scabiosa ochroleuca to flower went in too. Love that plant… a seedling I brought over from my old garden has grown into a substantial plant, so I hope it will reseed as freely here too.

 

Do visit Cathy to see her vase – and all the other vases being shared today. 😃

 

 

 

Store cupboard recipe 2: Garlic spaghetti

I am sharing another of our favourite vegan store cupboard recipes. This is great with a fresh salad, but failing that we have also eaten it with frozen peas or broccoli. As you may have noticed, we love garlic. And in times like these we do not have think about whether we can eat it without offending anyone the next day! 😜

Garlic spaghetti


It is so quick and simple to make.

For two people you will need:

  • 300g spaghetti
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6+ cloves of garlic, depending on their size (or add an extra two or three!)
  • 1 packet smoked tofu or vegan bacon, chopped into cubes (normal tofu is also good as long as you season it really well)
  • approx 200ml good olive oil
  • herbs, dried or fresh, for sprinkling
  • vegan parmesan or nutritious yeast for sprinkling
  • lots of salt and black pepper

While your spaghetti is cooking, sautée the onion in olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and switch off the heat. In a separate pan fry the tofu in a little olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Mix the onion, garlic and tofu together and serve over the spaghetti. Sprinkle with herbs etc.

Enjoy!

xxx

 

Heatwaves, Summer Flu, some Tuesday Views and a Mystery Plant

Having recovered from the second (mega) heatwave and a rather nasty summer flu virus, temperatures (both mine and outside!) have subsided enough for me to enjoy the garden and share a few Tuesday Views at last. 🙂

At the beginning of July I enjoyed a two-week interlude between our heatwaves with pleasant temperatures and good company while my sister visited 🙂 The garden was left mostly to its own devices and a few individual plants were watered to tide them over. Overall, considering the incredibly low rainfall we have had since April, the new beds have done well with minimal watering. I am constantly amazed.

Here is the Sunshine Bed in early August…

The annuals really filled in the spaces and the fact that they all survived has confirmed my suspicions that slugs and snails and not lack of watering were responsible for previous failures in my old garden. So far slugs are few and far between here, and I don’t think I have seen any snails yet!

Tithonia, various sunflowers, cosmos, as well as some (leftover) zinnias – which have fortunately turned out to be red – have transformed the bed into a sunny oasis in the dry surroundings.

And I finally got some Californina poppies to grow for me!

Oh, and a mystery plant… it may have been in with some leftover seed scattered haphazardly, but is more likely to be a weed as the flowers are rather unspectacular. But I have never seen it before. Any ideas?

 

 

The Butterfly Bed has done well too, although more ground cover will be needed – autumn will probably become my main planting season as two dry springs and summers in a row have been a challenge.

The Buddleias steal the show and have been attracting butterflies galore. Mostly Painted Ladies, a couple of Swallowtails, some Fritillaries, loads of small blues and recently also Red Admirals…

Some sturdy Scabiosa have finally flowered – sown indoors in February they were brutally planted out at the end of March and barely started growing until the end of June. But they are rewarding me with dozens of flowers and buds. 🙂

And finally, the Herb Bed…

Some of the annuals are looking a little tired – it has been a tough summer. But along with the beautiful Stipa tenuissima, the Hypericums and fennel, Echinacea and Baldrian (Valerian? ‘Patrinia scabiosifolia’), as well as some cosmos and Tithonia the whole bed has provided interest since mid-June.

 

 

 

Do you also feel summer is flying by? July is just a blur now, and I am wondering what the rest of August will bring… more showers we hope!

I have put  all the photos in a slideshow…

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I hope to catch up with some blog-reading soon and wonder how everyone’s summer is progressing. I do hope excessive heat or rain hasn’t stopped you enjoying your gardens.

Happy August! 😃🌸☀️