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Plant Profile: Corsican Mint

Corsican Mint.  Mentha requienii

My first “real” job was at a locally owned greenhouse in Colorado.  Surely, no one is surprised to learn that bit of information!  I LOVED working there and continued there all through my high school years.  While learning about plants and deepening my love for them, I also became a great customer!  My parents yard became the constant nursery for unlabeled varieties and broken shrubs; ‘orphans’, as we called them.  Not only did the outside gardens begin filling in with extras, I also brought home MANY houseplants.  I literally could not help myself!

One plant in particular, which brings back an intense aromatic nostalgia is Corsican Mint.  Having moved to an almost exotic climate, from my beloved and comfortable zone 3/4, I have found this favorite readily available…as a perennial!


Common Name: Corsican Mint
Latin Name:  Mentha requienii
Family: Lamiaceae

Description:  A extremely low growing, highly aromatic herb.   Sweet spearmint, with a little bit of spice.

  • Native to Italy/Corsica.
  • Can be sensitive to drying out, but also likes good drainage.
  • Originally used as the flavoring for crème de menthe.
  • Hardy to zone 7, as a perennial.
  • Makes a fabulous houseplant, for a sunny window.
  • Outdoors, partial shade.
  • A great groundcover or “steppable” plant.


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Quench.

In the spirit of summer, I always try to have a glass of this on hand.

 

Reaching for a handful of fresh herbs, on a quick stroll through the garden, while taking compost out to the pile.

It starts my day with a burst of fragrance, a bit of nostalgia (breath in, oh lavender), and a reminder to drink. Water.  More water.

It feels like a treat, a delicacy and is a token to help cherish these long, hot days of summer.  Most days it is mint and lavender, but then there are the sage and citrus marigold days, and cilantro blossoms are running a close 3rd.

So, we (yes, my glass is often in the hands of another family member, or two…) slow down and drink. Quench.  And toast, with each glassful, to the beauty of summer.

 


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For the love of Lovage.

“What is that?”

Yes, what is this amazing focal point in my garden?

LOVAGE!

Oh, how we are loving our lovage this year.  Normally this stately perennial is not nearly as tall, robust or…massive.  The past two springs, the tender new stalks of our lovage have been frozen by cold temperatures in the 20’s or flattened by heavy, wet spring snows. But this year, oh my, how it has grown.  This is the third year of its presence in my semi-formal herb garden and it has not just leaped, it has soared.  When I placed this small seedling into my garden, I intentionally planted it in the corner as a focal point, a corner piece, a border.  Week by week, this cousin-to-celery has gotten wider, taller, just plain bigger.  Now it is much more than a token in the garden. I have had many moments of wonder.  “Should I move this to a different spot?  Should the lovage have its own bed?  Should I go into the business of growing just Lovage?”  Oh, for the love of Lovage!  Who would buy all of it?!

It has become a huge conversation piece for visitors in my garden and a favorite hiding place for ladybugs and little boys.

We have been enjoying its changes, from straight and angular to wild and rangy.  It is amazing to look at up close. And rather astonishing to look at from afar as it makes our newest garden bone, a towering trellis, look…small.

Other, smaller garden visitors, the bees, have been moving about on it, collecting pollen and nectar.  Their weight creating a lovely lovage dance as they travel from tip to tip.

Here are a few notes about Lovage.

Common Name:  Lovage, Love Parsley

Latin NameLevisticum officinale

Family: Umbelliferae or Apiaceace: The carrot or parsley family.

Height:  3 to 7 feet (or more!)

Uses: The young stalks of Lovage have an uncanny resembelece to its cousin celery.  But upon tasting, there is quite a difference in flavor.  Much stronger, yet pleasant, it can be used as a celery substitute when a celery flavor is desired.

– The mature stalks can be cut and used as a drinking straw, preferably in a tomato juice cocktail.

– Tender young leaves or seeds can be candied for an after dinner breath freshener and digestive aide.

*** The seeds were once used in love potions and spells, thus lending the name Lovage. ***