Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lemon Verbena

A few years ago my search for lemon verbena (Alloysia triphylla) began. I lived in Calgary at the time and tended the garden pictured above. A visiting friend told me that she'd just encountered lemon verbena for the first time and that I should grow it. In fact, she wrote on a Post-it note "LEMON VERBENA -- GROW IT!!!" and stuck it to my cupboards. Every time I went to a garden store I asked about lemon verbena. My queries were, surprisingly, often met with looks of confusion by the staff at any given garden centre.

When Melissa instructed me to grow it, I'd thought I would just go out, find it, and grow it. When I couldn't find a plant, I looked for seeds, none were to be had; apparently this is a plant that does best when one starts it from a cutting (like that French tarragon I'm always talking up). It didn't help that lemon verbena is a USDA Hardiness Zone 8-10. Calgary, of course, is a three, and now my neighbourhood in Vancouver is about a six. So, two years later when Melissa was again at our house, she saw that Post-it still clinging to the cupboard and declared it (I think) "creepy" that I'd kept her note all that time.

It's now been three years and I'm happy to say that I have finally FINALLY finally found lemon verbena. And it is a gorgeous plant. Fragrant and delicate, I'm hoping that I'll be able to keep it alive indoors this fall and winter and not have to look for it again next year. Strangely, there seemed to be a plethora of lemon verbena at my local garden shop this spring. I guess I just wasn't looking on the right day. I'm thinking of using it to make some delicious jam, or, if you're super weird maybe you want to make Martha Stewart's super tricky dessert with a sprig or two.

My long sought-after lemon verbena plant.

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