Some things in life are so beautiful, it is hard to be separated from them. For me, one of these items was a beautiful book given to me for Christmas by a family whose children I cared for. The parents had watched me admire their professionally designed garden many times, taking clippings of many of their plants, with their encouragement. I was particularly in love with the herb garden. I had done a course at Ryde TAFE a few years before on propagating herbs and was delighted to be able to add to their garden as they added to mine. I was very excited when for Christmas they gave me a book called Hemphill’s Book of Herbs, by John and Rosemary Hemphill.
I spent many hours making herb vinegars, drying herbs, making potpourri and drawer sachets. Being a very sensory aware person, I had found a range of smells I could not only tolerate but couldn’t get enough of. My favourite herb quickly became lemon verbena. I threw it in custards, made tea, crushed it up and put it in a bowl beside my bed, and generally was hooked on it. Until one day my plants died from too much heat and I couldn’t find lemon verbena anywhere. It was time to give the rest of the world’s herbs better look.
Several times over the years people have given me a copy of the same book and I accidentally gave the original one away. To whom, I just can’t work out. But I do hope whoever received it loves that book as much as I love it and subsequent copies.
So as hard as it is to find lemon verbena anywhere, if you do find it, look up Hemphill’s Book of Herbs and have a bit of fun. In fact, get yourself a copy and truly enjoy this wonderful hobby of growing the most amazing plants. While lemon verbena still holds number one place in my heart, lemon balm is a good second.
Here is a photo of one of my copies I found in a second hand book sale. I like to keep a few on hand to give to friends who share my passion. Since my first real introduction to herbs, I’ve enjoyed so many other herb books and it is always the section I look first of any gardening books I pick up. Propagating, growing, smelling, dehydrating, and cooking with herbs is one of life’s greatest pleasures. They light up the senses like nothing else.