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Lemon myrtle

Zest of life

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Lemon-scented plants bring extra zing to your garden, food and life writes Penny Woodward.

Australia is lucky to have many native lemon-scented plants that grow over a large climate range.?Today most of these are available to gardeners,?as are the introduced plants that also have potent lemon fragrances. These scents are based mostly on the essential oils citronellal and citral, which are found in various combinations with other essential oils.

Plants with lemon fragrances come in all shapes and sizes, from the diminutive lemon thyme to the regal lemon- scented gum that can grow to 20m. They are generally easy to grow and their leaves can be dried for potpourri, made into aromatic teas and herbal remedies or used in cooking.

From lemon thyme, lemon verbena, lemon pelargonium and lemon balm, to natives like lemon myrtle, lemon-scented gums and tea-tree and a whole range of lemon grasses there are many that would grow in your garden.

Below is a recipe using the leaves of lemon-scented plants to make a unique potpourri for your home.

Spicy Lemon Potpourri

This is a tangy, refreshing mixture, ideal for kitchens and bathrooms where smells linger and damp can be a problem. To prepare leaves for potpourri, hang in bunches in a dry, airy position out of direct light. Leaves will snap or crumble easily when completely dry. Strip the leaves from the stems and roughly tear any larger leaves. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container out of direct light.

6 cups of dried lemon-scented leaves

2 cinnamon sticks, roughly crushed

10 cloves, roughly crushed?

10 juniper berries

20 whole coriander seeds?

dried peel of one lemon?

2 tablespoons of orris root powder

6 drops of lemon verbena oil

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and either leave in this bowl or keep the mixture in a jar and remove the lid whenever the fragrance is needed. Shaking the jar or stirring the contents of the bowl helps release the fragrance.

Note: This recipe for potpourri can be made with any of the lemon-scented plants listed, either alone or in combination.

For more organic ideas, subscribe to Organic Gardener Magazine by following the link.