A neighboring gardener who grows mostly herbs and flowers in her plot was dividing  an exuberant lemon balm plant last year and offered me a piece. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a part of the mint family, so I should have been forewarned that it would spend the winter plotting its invasion and then as soon as the weather improved, start making incursions into the rest of the herbs. I’m going to have to dig it up and replant it in a bottomless flower pot to keep it in check. But it’s so pretty, and it smells wonderful, like a sweet herbal lemon scent, and the bees seem to love it.

The rain has caused an explosion of growth so I’ve been trying to keep it pruned until I can replant it. One of my favorite uses for it last year was infusing a quart jar of water with a generous handful in the fridge over night and then using the water to make lemonade. It adds a subtle, herbal, green flavor to sweet/sharp lemonade. It’s a nice variation on a classic.

Lemon balm-ade

1/2 cup lemon juice or a mixture of lemon and lime

1/2 cup simple syrup * since anyone who makes sweet tea knows sugar never dissolves in cold water

3 cups of lemon balm infused water.

Mix together and serve over ice.

Makes about 1 quart

*Simple syrup

Heat together 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water until it simmers and the sugar is completely dissolved.

Keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.