|Lime Mint in front with Broadleaf Thyme at the back|
After checking various local sources, I found I could buy it in The Boma Garden Centre in Kentish Town, a small independently run company with friendly staff and interested customer service. I truly meant to just pop in for a bag of compost and come straight home... but that wouldn't really be me though, would it?
Of course, having not been there for many years, I had to have a good look round, get a mental list of their stock tucked away in my head. Ooh yes, liquid seaweed: I need some of that; Bag of vermiculite? Oh yes please, excellent for topping small seeds, quickly past the seeds, whoops, no, back up, French Breakfast Radish? yep, add that to the basket. Better have a check out back, it's not raining too heavily ... oh lawks, that's done it, I've found the herbs! Mmmm, hmm, hmm.... oh lovely, borage, better have some that just in case my self-collected seeds don't germinate; squeeze, pinch, sniff ... more thyme certainly but which variety? Broadleaf looks good and excellent culinary usage, Lemon Balm? maybe later and ... ooh, what's this then? Lime Mint? I like a bit of the unusual and I hadn't come across this before. Isn't it beautiful? I had to have two. One for the veg patch and one for my balcony. There were many other lovely herbs that I regretfully left behind (I have masses of herb seeds in my seed box) but I may have to pop back for some violas from their extensive collection as I've just found a nice sounding recipe in Jekka's Herb Cookbook for Violet Apple Cake. (I have a few violets in the veg patch, planted there last summer but they're not quite big enough to start helping myself to the flowers yet.)
So, back to the new acquisition. Lime Mint (Mentha x piperita f. citrata) will be a vigorous grower, up to 2ft/40cm, with purple flowers over red and green foliage. (Sounds heavenly.) Its leaves can be chopped up for cold drinks, fruit pies and fruit or green salads, yogurt and ice-cream; it has a strong flavour so a little goes a long way and it's best to use the young shoots. It likes semi-shade in moist, rich soil and, like other members of the family, spread can be controlled by planting into a sunken terracotta pot. (Although, would I really want to restrict its growth?)
Now I just have to figure out where to put it and, preferably, in a slug free zone. (I'm finding lots of baby slugs and white catepillar-like larvae buried in the soil, this does not bode well for the veg patch this summer.)