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A Summer Dessert Buffet From the Garden

Dallas County Master Gardeners said farewell to summer with an outside dessert buffet at our monthly meeting, Thursday, September 27th. Beautiful weather that morning teased us into believing that fall was only a whisper away.

Earlier in the summer we harvested gallons of blackberries from the vines in our north garden.  Mid-summer peaches were purchased from local growers. Carefully packaged, our bountiful berries and fruits were sent to the freezer for a brief storage. And then, the cooking began.

Our dessert buffet featured some long-standing favorites:

*Old-Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler

*Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler

*Fresh Peach Pound Cake

*Blackberry Pie Bars

*Fresh Peach Drop Cookies

It was the surprise dessert, however, that took center stage…Lemon Verbena Ice Cream. If you already know about Lemon Verbena but aren’t growing it, now’s the time to reconsider. This ice cream was a real crowd pleaser based on some of the comments we heard as each spoonful was savored by our members:

“Lemony goodness is filling my senses. I want more.”

“Those tiny, little bits of candied lemon rind are popping in my mouth. So refreshing.”

“Creamy texture, divine flavor…please make this again.”

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream Enjoyed by Dorothy!

Lemon Verbena Ice Cream


1 cup milk

1 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves

1 ¾ cups heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

⅛ teaspoon salt

5 egg yolks

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

*¼ cup chopped candied lemon zest


In a saucepan set over moderate heat bring the milk just to a simmer. Gently crush the lemon verbena leaves in a bowl and add the hot milk. Cover and let steep until milk is cool.

Strain the milk through a sieve into a saucepan, pressing hard on the leaves to extract all flavor. Add the cream, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, stir once, and remove pan from the heat.

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks, add half of the hot cream mixture, whisking, and pour the egg mixture back into the remaining hot liquid. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until mixture coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil. Stir in the lemon juice and candied zest.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl, let cool, and chill, covered with plastic, until cold.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Yield: about 1 quart


*Candied Lemon Zest


4 lemons, well scrubbed

2 cups sugar

1 cup cool water


Remove zest from lemons with a vegetable peeler, keeping pieces long. Remove white pith using a paring knife. Cut into a fine julienne using a very sharp knife. Place julienned zest in a small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes; drain.

Bring sugar and the cool water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When sugar is completely dissolved, add julienned zest, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand overnight. Drain before using.

Yield: 8 servings

Here’s some information about a well-loved herb, lemon verbena:

Lemon Verbena

Lemon Verbena, Aloysia triphylla syn. Lippia citriodora, is a member of the Verbenaceae family. It is a shrub-like herb with woody stems and bright green, rough-textured pointed leaves, from 1-3 inches long. Leaves grow in whorls of 3 to 4 with an intense lemon scent.  

The bush generally grows around 3-6 feet tall. Plant in full sun in good garden soil. Give it plenty of room to ramble off in different directions or trim slightly, if desired. Either way, you will have an abundance of leaves to use starting in early spring and continuing into fall. In winter lemon verbena will lose its leaves.

Once springtime arrives, you’ll notice tiny little leaves popping out up and down the stems. Your lemon verbena has come out of its dormant stage and it is ready to welcome the new season. This might be a good time to give it a shapelier look.

Enjoy its crisp, clean lemon taste as a substitute in any recipe calling for lemons. Use its fresh leaves chopped up in cakes, cookies and glazes. Drop a sprig or two in your tea and relax with a delightfully lemon-scented herb that should be in everyone’s garden.

Linda Alexander

The next Dallas County Master Gardener meeting will be October 25   at Walnut Hill United Methodist Church and don’t forget our fall garden tour on October 13th. Tickets can be purchased ahead online for $15 or for $20 on the day of the tour at any of the garden locations. More information here.

All members of the public are invited to both events!

Lemon Verbena-no calories, no guilt info here!



Looking for Joy in Summer

Sometimes when the heat sets in,it can get discouraging; energy seems in short supply. Even the most loved of gardens seems,well not as lovely as it did.  Don’t give in to those thoughts or worse yet actions, such as avoiding your gardening chores.  If you grow lemon verbena,  you can have a delicious treat at the end of  weeding.  In fact, this wonderful herb can be a treat every time you walk by it; it smells more like lemon than a lemon.

Lemon Verbena,Dallas Garden Buzz

Just in case you do not have lemon verbena in your garden, a few facts to know before you head out to buy one.  Lemon verbena is a tender perennial that means it will return year after year, provided it doesn’t freeze to death.  It is hardy to about 25 degrees !   In our experience it seems able to tolerate lower temps for brief periods especially if it is carefully mulched in fall.  This herb is pretty,pale to medium green pointed leaves,very tiny flowers, but to be honest it is not a beauty.  In our herb gardens it will be about 3 to 4 feet tall and tends to sprawl a bit. In ideal growing situations (you already guessed ideal isn’t here) it can reach 15 feet.  But lets not let that upset us,it still will be very happy in good well-drained soil and especially if it gets afternoon shade  and a reasonable, not excessive amount of water.

Lemon verbena is a native of Peru and surrounding countries and wasn’t introduced into Europe until the 18th century–so–no interesting medieval recipes  for amazing cures using our herb.  That’s not a worry either you will love lemon verbena leaves in your tea.

Lemon Verbena Tea, Dallas Garden Buzz

It can be used alone as an herbal tea.  This herb has a strong lemon fragrance so it really doesn’t take a great deal to make a delicious difference in your drink.  Do not be afraid to experiment here–no known dangers associated with lemon verbena. I find that a small stem of herb(perhaps 6 leaves) and the stem can be added when brewing a pot of tea using one family sized or about 3 regular tea bags let this steep for about 10 minutes then cool and serve over ice  you can remove the herb–or one lucky person –that would be you–you grew it after all–can have it in the glass.  The same proportions apply to green tea,maybe a bit prettier since the color sets off the color of the herb.

Just a few more points–if you are just planting your lemon verbena–no tea for you yet!!!  You need to allow the plant to grow  a bit before you harvest; but it grows fast.  Never over harvest. The plant naturally needs leaves to make its food.  Be patient soon you will have plenty. You may consider several plants; once you taste your tea I feel sure this will be the case. This herb is grown from cuttings. The seeds are very difficult to get to grow i’m sorry to say but in spring at least you will be able to find it quite readily in nurseries that sell herbs.

As always, never brew tea from herbs that have been sprayed with chemicals.  The best time to gather any herb is in the morning.  Rinse you lemon verbena briefly in cold water if you feel the need and enjoy!!  This herb is one of the best for drying-no special equipment needed- sniping  small bunches of leaves and laying them in an out of the way place (a word to the wise–away from any possible interference from cats)  just leave to dry and when dry; store airtight.  It stays amazingly fragrant so a hot steaming cup of lemony tea will brighten up a cold day which will come one of these days.

If you come to visit us at The Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road, don’t forget to crush a leaf of lemon verbena; you will love it and I hope you also grow your own and put it to good use.   It will add joy summer and winter. No calories, no guilt!

Susan T

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