Lovage (Levisticum officinale) HP
Another Mediterranean native, this herb has been used as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans who chewed the seeds to aid digestion. This knowledge was handed down to the Benedictine monks. Through the Middle Ages the deodorising and antiseptic properties of the leaves were used to revive the weary feet of travellers. It is an essential member of any culinary collection with a flavour similar to celery and seems to have had a revival on 'The Great British Menu' this year. Fresh young leaves can be added to salads, rubbed around salad bowls or on chicken before roasting. Can also be used in soups (Lovage soup is a favourite of mine), stews, with vegetables and stocks. Prefers a rich, moist, but well-drained soil with plenty of manure dug in. Lovage is a tall plant reaching its full height of 6ft within 5 years – so should be positioned carefully. May be grown in a pot but should be kept well clipped.