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Lovely Lemon Verbena
By Lynn Kirkland

Visit the herb


Herb of the week for 18th May
by Lynn Kirkland

Lovely Lemon Verbena

This is one of those herbs which invokes wonderful memories when people smell the fragrant leaves of the lemon verbena shrub.
Memories of summers past or visits to grandmothers who grew this herb flood in when the older generation release this fragrance by touching the leaves.
The shrub in the photo is over ten years old and you can see it develops quite a gnarly trunk.
The foliage is trimmed regularly by the herb farm café folk and this keeps the bush very tidy and with a steady supply of fresh leaves.
A deciduous shrub, lemon verbena will loose all its leaves in cold areas. Where it is growing in a temperate climate it may retain some greenery over winter.
Lemon verbena is one of the easiest herbs to dry. Just cut some branches and leave in a warm and airy place and the leaves will dry in a day or two. Strip them off and store them in a paper bag or glass jar.
Use for a refreshing herbal tea or even place a bowl of leaves in your lounge and squeeze the leaves to release a burst of summer fragrance into your room.
While this is one of the easiest herbs to dry, it can be one of the more difficult ones to get established. Frost tender when it is small can make it hard to get through to its second year. So plant it in a sunny protected position and once established it will be quite hardy.
Another trap for young players can be that when young bushes have lost all their leaves the bare twigs of a young plant can look as though the plant has died. Lemon verbena is one of the last herbs to burst into leaf in spring and new gardeners can think their plant has died and discard it.
Save judgement on this until well into spring as it may surprise you and come into leaf later on.
Well worth persevering with as the gorgeous fragrance and lovely tea that the leaves provide is well worth getting a plant established in your herb or fragrant garden or even in a pot.

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