Lovage (Levisticum officinale).
This Lovage plant is the first herb to appear in my garden after the snow has melted. Now is the time that I am convinced my other herbs have died off after the harsh winter. But that is the beauty of perennials - even when you think they're dead - there is still a hint of life somewhere. This reminds me of my favorite childhood story, The Secret Garden! I loved the character Dicken. He could look inside of a plants stem and tell if it was still alive; he called this hint of life "wick". I was always so sorry that Mary Lenox didn't marry Dicken, but chose the rich, spoiled child, instead, who admittedly made the biggest transformation in the story, apart from Mary. Even the spoiled child was full of "wick" when placed in the right ground, metaphorically speaking.
But, back to my lovage plants, which make speedy transformations in their own right. I mean, look at those dead stalks, the plants limbs from last year. Wouldn't you be convinced the plant was a goner, seeing those? Life is amazing! Lovage, is a very hardy perennial and will multiply and crowd out everything in your garden if given its freedom. Don't worry, I'll be trimming away the dead parts from last year very soon.
Lovage is similar to Angelica in its uses, whatever those are? In summer the plant will grow tall stalks up to 3 feet high with flowers containing the seeds that can be dried and used as a spice. It takes no care once established, apart from thinning out. Thinning is something for which I have no talent. I somehow managed to kill off, for ever, our Iris patch when I tried thinning them. Consequently, the lovage plant is let to expand and thrive on its own terms, and it loves it.
Lovage is an "aromatic stimulant and a digestive tonic". Lovage cordial is an old- fashioned drink used to settle the stomach. The plant is also a diuretic (makes you pee) and diminishes a build up of fluid in the body. Meaning, it is probably good for a Kapha dosha, like mine. Its fresh leaves have the aroma and taste of celery and are good in soups, salads, stews, and on fish. Warning: lovage should not to be used during pregnancy or in the case of kidney disease.
This is a plant that I never see at landscape stores. It was already here when we moved into the house, a sort of welcoming gift from our homes past owners. I'm determined to show my gratitude for this amazing gift by actually using it more. That's the way to do it, by action instead of just words. This would mean gathering old recipes that might have Lovage as an ingredient, and finding out all I can about this plant. If it is so strong in "wick", perhaps eating it will spread the "wick" into me!
Quick and Easy Recipe for Lovage Herb & Potato Soup
A hand-held blender makes pureed soup preparation and clean-up even faster.
•1 medium onion, chopped
•2 Cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
•4 oz. spinach, washed, drained and chopped
•2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
•2 oz. fresh lovage leaves
•4 Cups chicken stock
•salt and freshly ground pepper
•a few fresh lovage leaves as garnish
1.Saute the onion in butter over a moderate heat in a large saucepan
2.Add the potatoes and cook a few minutes longer
3.Add spinach and lovage leaves and saute a few minutes more
4.Add chicken stock
5.Simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes
6.Puree soup in a food processor or with a hand-held blender
7.Add salt and pepper to taste and float a fresh lovage leaf on top
A splash of light cream or dollop of plain yogurt can be added to each bowl for a richer soup.