We have it throughout our white shade garden and it's delicate white flowers in early spring form a dense white carpet in keeping with the theme of the garden.
Sweet woodruff is quick to establish and can be considered invasive as it spreads easily if left unrestrained. Unlike other rapid spreaders, the members of the mint family in particular, in our shade garden it has rapidly filled spaces between plants but it has not interfered with or smothered the growth of any of the other plants. In fact, this spring, several large clumps of columbine found their way into the sweet woodruff and developed into handsome substantial plants that we transplanted to another bed.
Any overgrowth of the sweet woodruff has been a welcome blessing for us each spring. It is easily dug up and moved to other areas of the garden where it has made a lovely ground-cover under other trees and shrubs as well as blended well with vinca to help anchor a heavily shaded hill.
Sweet woodruff has a delicate fragrance and flavor reminiscent of vanilla and makes a lovely flavor bouquet with lavender and lemon. I've used it with fresh lemon zest and just a bit of finely minced lavender buds, blooms, or leaves (the soft new growth works well when the lavender is not in bloom). It adds a wonderful flavor note to cookies, sweet cakes, and muffins.
With both sweet woodruff and lavender, a tiny bit goes a long way. You want to add just a hint of flavor. Too much will leave you with a muffin tasting like it was made from scented soap.
A spring sweet cake is best enjoyed with an afternoon cup of herbal tea, preferably in the garden! Try my own recipe below for a special treat. They can be served lightly dusted with confectioner sugar or frosted with flavored buttercream and garnished for special occasions.
I make a low calorie version that is better for diabetics and others watching calorie counts.
A brief word of caution is in order, however; a reader commented on one of my other blog posts about a health risk attributed to sweet woodruff. I responded to that comment and have added a comment here addressing the concern, which I would encourage readers who plan to use sweet woodruff in cooking to read and consider in the context of their own personal habits, medications and health.
Spring Sweet Cakes
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup of sugar or granulated Splenda
4 eggs lightly beaten
1-1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping tablespoon of finely minced young lavender leaves
1 heaping tablespoon of finely minced woodruff leaves
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 cup of lemonade
1 cup finely diced strawberries
In a mixer, cream sugar or Splenda and butter. Add eggs, salt, baking powder, minced herbs, lemon zest and lemon juice and continue to beat on medium speed until well mixed. Add half the flour, then the lemonade, then the remaining flour. The batter should be thicker than traditional cake batter. Continue to mix until well blended then fold in the strawberries.
Oven Temperature: 350 degrees, bake; 325 degrees convection
Baking Time - 18-20 minutes, until top springs back when pressed gently
I recommend using the large size muffin or cupcake pans or mini bundt pans.
Frost with your favorite buttercream or cream cheese frosting or drizzlew with a lemony glaze. I sometimes add some finely minced lavender leaves to the frosting or glaze. Garnish with strawberries, sweet woodruff leaves and blossoms, or lavender sprigs.