In the middle of Winter the soft herbs like Parsley, Marjoram and Mint are less likely to be available (though this year I have surprised even myself by having a reasonably plentiful supply of Parsley), but the woody perennials are there all the time. We use lots of Bay leaves, but then we have a plentiful supply of those too. This is only one of the two "small" Bay trees (the Big one - their parent - is about 10 times as big!):
Right now the Bay is covered with little tiny flower buds, which will eventually open out into spiky cream/yellow coloured flowers:
The Rosemary plants have gone beserk, and are now so luxuriant that they are in danger of taking over one of my raised beds:
That is just two plants! I have taken cuttings from these, and planted them elsewhere, so there is no danger of us being short of Rosemary for culinary use any time soon. I think the plants pictured above will have to be drastically pruned before long, since their presence is making it hard to get at the next-door bed.
Sage is another herb which we always like to have available in the garden. We don't use it in big quantities because it is very strongly-flavoured and can easily overwhelm other flavours. One time when we do use a fair bit is at Christmas, when it is an essential ingredient for the Sage-and-Onion stuffing that traditionally accompanies the roast turkey. I have three different types of Sage. The purple one and the variegated green and yellow one are mainly ornamental:
The "ordinary" grey-green one is the one we use for cooking. Frustratingly, it also seems to be less vigorous than the others - or maybe it's just because mine is sited in a North-facing border where it doesn't get enough sun?
A short while ago I was tidying up the border, trimming the shrubs, removing dead leaves etc, and I realised that last year my culinary Sage supply had dwindled dramatically. I think this is mainly because the Dogwood shrubs have got so big that the Sage is overshadowed and deprived of light and rainfall. I have therefore taken lots of cuttings and pushed them into the soil near the parent plants, dipping them first in hormone rooting powder to help them form roots. With a bit of luck some of them will grow. Certainly they can't currently complain of lack of moisture - and just look at all those soggy leaves which have already built up around them.
The sticks are to deter cats from digging the plants up!
Although technically one of the soft herbs, Fennel is more like a Herbaceous Perennial. It dies off in the Winter but it springs into life again the next year. Mine is just waking up:-
I love the look of the new shoots. They are like little tiny bottle-brushes!
You can use the Aniseedy-flavoured tender young fronds as a herb, in much the same way as Dill, but we generally don't do this, preferring to leave the stems to mature to produce flowers and then seeds.
Just for the record I want to show you some of my Parsley. I have had a few plants covered with plastic bell-cloches, which have helped to keep the plants in good condition.
We never seem to have enough Parsley - a herb we like to use in "industrial" quantities - so I have recently sowed a load more in some pots which are currently basking in the warmth and light of the Growlight House. Let's hope they soon grow to look like this: