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BellaOnline's English Garden Editor

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Lemon Balm or Sweet Balm

Guest Author - Hellie T.

Melissa Officinalis

The Romans were responsible for bringing Lemon Balm to England. It has been cultivated here ever since and is a traditional plant in the herb garden.

This aromatic plant is also called Heartís Delight, Balm Mint or Sweet Melissa. It used to be planted by house entrances and exits to keep away evil spirits.

Culpepper writing in 1649 thought it very good to help digestion and open obstructions of the brain and that it strengthened the body.

Herbalists use it today to help counter depression and aid recovery from illnesses.

Cultivation

Plant seeds from March to May
Lemon balm flowers in an English Garden from mid summer to early autumn and enjoys a sunny spot. It often grows to between 2 and 3 feet.

It will tolerate some shade and actually is best planted where it will not get the full power of the noon day sun.

Lemon balm prefers a fertile soil but it is quite easy to grow and I have grown it in quite a dry place and it was perfectly alright - so why not try some?
You can water it to make it feel more at home - especially in dry spells and until it is established.

It used to be planted around bee hives as bees love its lemony scent.
So don't plant it too close to your house if you don't like insects.

If you cut it back after it has flowered it will give you another fresh display of wonderful green leaves.

Take cuttings in the spring (April or May)or you can divide the whole plants in autumn (late September).

There is a variegated version that has gold splashes on it leaves which really does better out of the heat of the sun and is good for a spot with light shade.

Uses
The leaves smell gorgeous and can be used in pot pourri or pillows or popped into a summer drink - homemade lemonade for instance - ideal for when you are sitting in your English Garden in the evening, soaking up the scents and sounds.

Lemon balm leaves can be used to make a lovely aromatic vinegar.
Place fresh leaves in a bottle of white wine vinegar and place in a cool dark place to infuse - 2 months is good then use - ideal for those little homemade presents.

The leaves can be chopped and added to salads or fresh fruit salads.

Try infusing the leaves as a tea
Just place 3 or 4 leaves of fresh lemon balm a cup.
Then carefully pour on boiling water and cover with a saucer or plate.
Leave for about 3-4 minutes,no longer, strain and you will have a cup of delicious lemony tea.

Or you can place 3 floating on a cup of Indian tea for added flavour.

Lemon Balm tea taken every day is meant to give you a long and healthy long life.


Enjoy your English Garden
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English Cottage Garden Herb List
Traditional English herb - Mint
How To Infuse Oils with Herbs
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Content copyright © 2013 by Hellie T.. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Hellie T.. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Carol Chernega for details.

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