Of all the lemon-scented plants in the world, none can rival Lemon Verbena. This Aloysia triphylla is more lemony than a lemon tree and all of its parts, each leaf a tantalizing blend of lemon peel, honey, and a tropical breeze that calms the nerves and refreshes the spirit. The plant can be grown either indoors or out, and you can use its leaves in a number of fascinating ways:
In white wine. On a hot summer evening, the drink dujour at A Garden for the House is a glass of icy-cold pinot grigio, enlivened with a sprig of lemon verbena. A number of friends can testify to this fact, as can a lovely lady from the local garden club. She sipped this ambrosia while serving “docent-duty” here during a garden tour. The herb is equally delightful in a glass of sauvignon blanc or dry champagne.
For poultry and fish. To give chicken breasts, turkey burgers or fish fillets a lemony lift, just lay whole leaves on top of meat. Then sear in a hot skillet, verbena-side-down first. This way, the leaves will adhere to fish or fowl throughout the cooking process.
In salads. Add finely-chopped leaves to tuna salad, chicken salad, or a plain old green salad for a refreshing taste sensation.
In Grooming Products. Use whole leaves in talcum powder, baby-powder, hair shampoo, rubbing alcohol — in anything that can benefit from a strong essence of citrol.
Where winters are mild, lemon verbena can be grown as a die-back perennial. After defoliating frost, cut back to 3 inches, and cover with a thick layer of shredded leaves or salt hay. Otherwise, confine the plant to a clay pot, and grow it in a cool, sunny window or beneath fluorescents.
I hope you will try this piece of poetry in your own herb- or window-garden. For fragrance and use, nothing beats lemon verbena.
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