Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n09)
Right in my Own Backyard - The Delight of Lemon Herbs - by Brandt Carter
posted: May 04, 2007
The Delight of Lemon Herbs
Planting my herb garden every year gives me a sense of order and beauty. It also sharpens my anticipation for the produce and seasonal cooking to come.
How I relish the raised, square, two-tiered flower bed that has been my herb garden for nearly 25 years. In the center of the plot is a stately limestone birdbath with a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. Some perennials come up every year, but the majority of my herbs have to be planted annually from seed or small plants. My favorite herbs are rosemary, basil, nasturtium, and thyme.
The most delightful group of herbs I plant has a lemon taste and scent that often can be as fragrant as lemons themselves. If you have not discovered these plants, you may want to try them in your garden this year. Lemon thyme, excellent in sweet quick breads and sauces for fish, is a low and creeping plant. I plant a small lemon verbena every year and by fall this woody-stemmed plant is huge. I use the leaves in garden or fruit salads, as a garnish, and in lemon liquor. Lemon balm is invasive so take care. It is good in teas and salads. Lemon grass can be a gem at the back of a garden. Its height can cover unsightly areas, and it is an excellent ingredient in stir-fry cooking. Use the blade section nearest the base of the plant as the leaves are usually very tough.
To make lemon herb butter: Combine 5 tablespoons (chopped) of any of the lemon herbs (except lemongrass) with 1 stick of softened butter. Mix well. Refrigerate. Melt over vegetables, poultry, and fish or spread on fresh bread. For a different tartar sauce: mix the lemon herbs, chopped chive, and garlic chive with mayonnaise; serve on grilled fish.
Herbs open a whole new dimension in gardening, cooking, and dining. Most garden centers now carry a complete collection of culinary herbs. If lemon herbs become a new experience for you, I hope they will bring pleasure to you as they do to me.