On a brilliant sunny morning my friend Marci and I visited the Silvermont Gardens in Brevard. I had seen an announcement in the paper that Master Gardener Gail Comer was scheduled to give a talk in the gardens about using lemon flavored herbs and I was excited to find out more.
I have driven past the Silvermont Mansion so many times since our move last August but had not really delved into what it was about until prior to this visit. It is a pretty amazing 8 acres that houses a 33 room Colonial Revival mansion built in the early 1900’s as well as lovely gardens, tennis and basketball courts, and a playground. The bottom floor of the house serves as a gathering place for senior citizens of the area and offers congregate meals as well as many activities geared for this age group. The museum, located on the second floor of the mansion, was a glimpse into the lives of the original owners Joseph and Elizabeth Silversteen. That will be a post for another day as today I wanted to share more of the garden aspect of our visit.
We set our chairs up and sat and enjoyed a lovely talk by expert Gail Comer who shared not only conversation about 5 specific lemon flavored herbs but also the chance to pinch and sniff the various herbs that she was sharing information about. The small group of 20-25 in attendance asked questions and shared experiences with using herbs in a variety of ways and I must admit I was excited to learn some of the neat ways that these could be used. Here is a short list of some things I learned:
- Lemon Balm is a prolific spreading plant (which I have witnessed first hand) which is a great when steeped as tea or even adds a hint of lemon flavor when a few leaves are added to a salad.
- Lemon Basil can be substituted for regular basil to make a different flavored pesto to be used in a variety of ways in cooking.
- Lemon Thyme is a great addition to any recipe but is especially pleasing when leaves are finely chopped and added to creamed unsalted butter.
- Lemon Verbena leaves can be added to the bottom of a pound cake pan before adding the batter to make a lemon-infused cake. Can you say yum?
- Lemongrass grows easily and stalks can be used to flavor tea while the white base of the stalk is quite often found chopped in small pieces and used in many Thai dishes.
We also were encouraged to partake of the refreshments and make lavender sachets and tussy mussies to take home.
I knew what a tussy mussy was (a Victorian floral bouquet of cut flowers usually put in a small metal vase to be carried) but had never officially made one before so Marci and I made our way to the table where we picked out the flowers and greenery that we wanted to include in our little bouquets and I soon found mine was getting a bit large because I wanted to include so many of the pretty flowers that the master gardeners had graciously donated.
They turned out really cute and mine is stashed in a vase in my house and it makes me smile every time I see it.
After we made our adorable floral bouquets we walked through the gardens and discovered a lot of wonderful plants and information. While the gardens are not massive they are well cared for and signs are displayed to identify what plants are included in the flower beds. There were plenty of gardeners available to ask questions and we found ourselves lingering longer than I thought we would in the cool of the Woodland Shade Garden.
Sometimes I find that the things that are offered locally that are free events are pretty amazing and I was grateful that I was able to take advantage of this event in particular. I found a new favorite spot. What have you stumbled upon recently that was an unexpected surprise like the Silvermont was for me? Don’t forget that all comments count for our Comments for a Cause recipient this month –Brevard Music Center.