Wednesday 18 January 2012

Let's check out the herbs...

As most of you know, I'm very keen on cooking these days, and it is always nice to be have on-hand a selection of fresh herbs with which to enhance our meals. So here goes with a tour of the culinary herbs currently in my garden...

In the Autumn I moved some of my herb plants into my coldframe to protect them a bit from the anticipated frosts, but because the Winter has been very mild, this has so far turned out to be largely unnecessary. However, Winter is not over yet, and I expect they were glad of the shelter during last weekend's heavy frosts...  See if you can identify the herbs in this picture:-

Micellaneous herbs in the coldframe

The best of the herbs outside the coldframe are the Rosemary plants, some of which are still looking like they did in high Summer, which is particularly gratifying since they suffered very badly in last year's snow:


The Thyme is not so luxuriant. The leaves are sparse, pale and very tough now:


The straggly Marjoram is nearly hidden beneath a covering of fallen leaves. I like the way how in this photo a narrow shaft of sunlight illuminates a couple of sprigs:


The Purple and Variegated Sage plants are looking fine still. These ones are from cuttings I took in Autumn 2010 and planted out in pots in Spring 2011:

Purple Sage

Variegated Sage

The plain Green Sage always goes a bit spindly in the Winter. Many of the lower leaves go yellow, then brown, then drop off completely, but new leaves keep appearing at the tips. The little rosettes at the ends of the bare stalks look almost like flowers:

Green Sage

The Chives are just beginning to peep through now. In the Spring I divided and re-potted them, and applied a layer of gravel to discourage the growth of moss. It seems to have worked:


The Bronze Fennel is already putting up feathery new leaves at the base of the slowly dessicating stems from last year's growth (must cut those old stems off soon...):

Bronze Fennel

The Winter Savory that I grew from seed last year is looking....Wintery! It has robust woody stems now:

Winter Savory

In the pots of Mint the first new shoots are already coming up, which warns me that I will need to re-pot this herb soon. I usually divide and re-pot the Mint every year to keep it vigorous, but I wasn't expecting to have to do it just yet:


The Greek Oregano is looking a bit "moth-eaten". Something has nibbled the surface off most of the leaves:

Greek Oregano

The tips of the tender young shoots look much better though:

Greek Oregano

The herb with which I have most difficulty is Parsley. It seems I can never grow enough of it for our needs! Perhaps if I show you only a close-up photo I can pretend that I have lots of it:


Last, but by no means least, there is the Bay. I have two little Bay trees, trained as standards, on my patio for ornamental purposes, but down by the back fence is this fine specimen - their parent - which is for culinary use:


As you can imagine, we're never short of fresh Bay leaves!

So the situation seems to be that most of the herbs are doing fine, and I look forward to seeing fresh new growth on all of them within the next couple of months (possibly earlier in view of the current warmer temperatures).

More (prettier) pictures of herbs can be seen on my "Herbs" page, at the top of the blog....


  1. thank you for the trip round. Now I couldn't help noticing there are still a number of dead leaves in amongst your herbs. Any particular reason other than 'too busy in the kitchen, sorry' ?!

  2. Your herbs look great for this time of the year! All of my perennial herbs are planted in the herb garden except for mint. All of the mint is in pots. I leave all of them outside during the winter. I do keep parsley, rosemary and basil growing in the house during the winter. You are very lucky to be able to grow bay in the ground outside. My bay tree has to come inside for the winter here. It would never survive our cold winters.

  3. So enjoyed your herb post and seeing how yours are progressing across the pond compared to ours in our Nova Scotia garden. Imagine having bay trees...wonderful. My potted herbs are in the summerhouse, but even with all the snow, I noticed the golden oregano in the garden looks as good as it usually does where the sun has revealed it's leaves. What would we do without herbs in our diet. Your basil pesto scones look wonderful by the way.

  4. Wow! how can you grow bay outside? I thought it needs the hot and dry temperature. How cold do you get? Please let me know the type of bay that you have. Being an Indian, almost none of your food can be prepared without bay-leaves. Thanks.

  5. I am so good at killing herbs these last few years. This year the rosemary and lemon balm are the only herbs that survived.

  6. Variegated sage is pretty isn't it? My sages all got some sort of midlew and died this year - I've replaced the normal on but I think I need some more as they are so pretty...
    I think the trick with parsley is plant it in vegetable quantities in the garden and that way you will have enough - i love the stuff and try to have a good 10 plants or so in the garden and that just covers what I use. I also try to succession plant but I never seem to manage to cover Spring after it goes to seed. One day I'll get the timing right....

  7. Herbs, Herbs.. Love it. Beautiful pictures.

  8. There are a few herbs in my garden but some of them I can't identify (what's new then) hopefully the plant labels I have found will help, along with your (once again) fab photos and info. That bay tree looks wonderful, perhaps something I should think about investing in and a dedicated herb patch/area is also something I need to think about.

  9. We bought a sprawling rosemary last year as it is supposed to be hardier although the rosemary bush at home fared better than the ones on the plot. I did try using some sage last week but the leaves are a bit tough. Parsley we grow in a long row as edging on the plot.

  10. You grow lots of herbs, I only have a few bog standard ones. Love the bay, that's a fine specimen.

  11. I agree with Liz, the variegated sage is very fetching! Herbs here are under a bed of snow, and rosemary is an annual in this area. I wish it wasn't, it's my favorite.

  12. I kill variegated sage faster than any herb. I keep buying it and keep killing it which is funny because normally the regular sage lives a year or two before it dies. I once planted a Parsley de Gigante (or something like that). It produced a big plant of parsley and that year I had plenty and it tasted no different than the smaller versions. I really need to look for those seeds again.

  13. Mark, sage as well as thyme benefit form cutting the bushes to 1/3 after the flowering. They will appear more compact. My sage looked the same last year and a have given it a harsh down-cut. It produced lots of new branches. And for thyme shearing is a must if you want it to look like a cushion.

  14. i've NEVER tried herb growing! you're certainly getting me motivated!!!!

  15. This has been a very educative post for me. Many of the herbs you've listed here are sold dried in my place, but it's hard to find the fresh herbs, except mint and parsley. Now I know what fresh oregano looks like.

  16. I'm now thinking of abandoning my storm blasted veg plot for this season and dedicating it to herbs!!! Funnily enough, the only one I've EVER grown successfully is parsley!!! Want some? lol x


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