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! 😉😎☀️

Scentsations

It starts in March, February if you are lucky. You are walking along the edge of woods in a bare and frosty landscape and suddenly… WHAM. A sweet floral perfume awakens your olfactory senses for the first time this year and the only flower in sight is a clump of Hepaticas. Hepaticas don’t smell of anything though, do they? You stick your nose in one and inhale. Nothing. But moments later another waft. It is magical and transitory.

Next the violets. I love them and hate them because I may smell the first one for a brief moment and then cannot detect a hint of the sweet violet perfume again. Apparently a trick our noses play on some of us. I envy people who swoon at the perfume they emit on a warm spring day.

Later, a bluebell wood in England. Then the lilacs in a friend‘s garden. The plum blossom on a neighbourhood tree.

And then the highlight of my spring, telling me summer has arrived and reminding me of the cordial, sorbet and pancakes I will be making – the elderflowers. The first hint of them in May crescendoes into a heady and intoxicating scent. I have never had elderflower champagne, but can imagine the taste. There are a lot of elder trees near us and their fragrance dominates for several weeks as plants in shadier spots open their flowers more slowly and later, lasting long into June. It sweetens on a warm day and in a very hot spell in early June it becomes almost overpowering. Mix that with the peonies and you are in heaven!

Oh yes, the peonies are nice too…

Another June delight: walking in the countryside on a warm day there is an occasional waft of a sweet scent similar to wild strawberries. It makes me look up and around and look again, really hard, at the wild flowers at the side of the footpath… Bedstraw? (Galium alba). Such an insignificant plant until it flowers. Like the Hepatica, if you go up to it and sniff, you probably won‘t smell a thing. Maybe you have to sneak up to it from behind to catch it!

I can enjoy the scent of roses, and like sweet peas too. But my favourite scent in spring or early summer has to be the elderflower.

What is your favourite scent on a spring or early summer day? Could you choose just one? 😉

In a Vase on Monday: A Warm Glow

Californian Poppies have finally got established in my garden this year. Yippee! After scattering some seed last year I only got a few flowers. The plants remained green almost all winter, which amazed me, and now they have multiplied! 😃 I am now sure previous attempts to grow them in my old garden were thwarted by snails. Thankfully there are hardly any around in the new garden.

So, as I wanted to join in with Cathy’s Monday meme again at Rambling in the Garden, I decided to cut some on Sunday morning and see how they do in a vase.

I also took the opportunity to test the Geum flowers for vase use. I grew these – Geum chiloense ‘Blazing Sunset’ – from seed two springs ago and last year only a couple of flowers appeared. But this year the plants are much stronger and are flowering profusely, brightening up the Sunshine Bed as well as a very windswept corner of the Herb Bed.

They are a very strong orangey red (some of the photos are a little deceptive showing a pink tinge) and the frilly flowers are strikingly visible from a distance.

Alchemilla mollis is a perfect filler for some contrasting green, and for a splash of light two pretty Aquilegias. I am afraid I can‘t tell the difference, but the labels say one is Kristall and the other is Yellow Queen. The orange flower is Hawkweed, Hieracium x rubrum.

I love the wild yellow Hawkweed we see around here, so added this orange one to the herb bed in the hope it will spread. After all, it IS a weed! 😜

The colours of these flowers are a lovely contrast to the pinks and blues in the Butterfly Bed right now and are creating a warm glow on my dining table. And now, over 24 hours after being cut, the poppies and geums are still glowing and are apparently happy in the vase.

 😃

What is glowing in your garden today?

Have a great week!

In a Vase on Monday: Meadow flowers

On the edge of the woods and the perimeters of the garden there are lots of pretty meadow flowers and grasses opening. Some of the grasses are as pretty as the flowers with a reddish tinge to them, so I picked a mixture for my vase this week.

 

On the left are some of the remaining Moon Daisies from last week‘s vase, in my cornflower teapot. On the right, two Purple Rain Alliums that had disappeared beneath an ambitious Euphorbia and a single Scabiosa that got cut off by mistake. And in the middle the meadow flowers.

Harebells…

Cow parsley and bedstraw, ragged robin, buttercups and daisies and a few grasses…

The elderflowers and dog roses are also in flower already. I shall be making elderflower pancakes again soon. Doesn‘t time fly!😃

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this special Monday meme. 😃