“There’s a lesson in each flower, a story in each stream and bower, in every herb on which you tread are written words which rightly read will lead you from earth’s fragrant sod, to hope, to holiness and God”—Thomas Osborne Davis (1814-1845).
These words that were penned by an Irishman many years ago stirred within me the thought of the pleasing aroma of lemon scented herbs that always draw me in—the lovely lemons. What a pleasant and enticing aroma. Almost everyone that I know loves the smell and taste of lemons. As we are in the process of putting in our spring gardens, let me share with you three of my favorite lemon-scented herbs that will bring the fresh and delicious citrus tastes directly to our teacups and table.
This powerful medicinal, perennial is a member of the mint family and is extremely easy to grow in central Oklahoma. Many people believe that lemon balm is invasive due to its roots, but actually, once the plant has flowered, the wind blows its seeds and spreads them all around. In short order, you will find lemon balm popping up all over your garden! This can be prevented by picking the seed containing flowers before they have a chance to spread.
Lemon Balm can survive in almost any kind of soil, but it prefers rich, well-drained soil that receives 6-8 hours of full sun per day. It is cold-hardy and is one of the first herbs that you will see emerge after winter. It grows to approximately 24 inches in height and produces deep green leaves that are bursting with aroma. When rubbed, they smell exactly like that of a sliced lemon. Delicious in herbal teas and salads, this is an herb that we hope to never be without!
This elegant shrub will most certainly grow when planted directly in your garden but is a great choice for a large container in central Oklahoma. It is a perennial but often times struggles to survive our cold winters, so being able to move it into a protected space allows you to enjoy it longer. During the growing season, place your Lemon Verbena container in direct sun and fill with compost rich, well-draining soil.
Drainage is the key to success with this plant. If its roots stay wet for too long it will die. It produces slender, elongated leaves that are packed with the fresh scent of lemon essential oil. You can use the leaves fresh or dried in herbal teas and seasoning mixes.
The ability to reach a height of 12 to 15 inches, as well as having a cascading nature, makes this variety of thyme a favorite of many. It is mostly grown for its culinary uses but is also nice to tuck into rock gardens as a creeping plant in your landscape.
As with other Mediterranean herbs, this plant can survive in poor soil but does need be in an area that drains well. It enjoys 6-8 hours of full sun but likes some shade during the very hottest part of the day. You will see it bloom and flourish near water features and other areas where mist is present. Its tiny leaves are packed with the smell of fresh lemons and it will quickly become a favorite that finds its way into your garden every year.
These three herbs bring beauty and pleasure wherever they’re planted. Just as lemon scented herbs spread their pleasing aroma throughout our gardens and kitchens may we, as Christians, spread the pleasing aroma of Christ to all we encounter.
Father, help our lives be peaceful, joyous and holy and our words be kind and encouraging. May our very existence spread the aroma of the knowledge of Christ everywhere and because of Him, may You be glorified by the pleasing aroma of our lives.
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2:14-15).