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Perennial culinary herbs

Posted by bill_ri_z6b (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 11, 10 at 14:09

I have chives, variegated thyme, variegated sage, rosemary and mint, and if I let it seed the parsley will come back. I like that I can get some thyme and rosemary all year, even in winter. The mint and chives die back, and the parsley may be robust enough to pluck a few stems. The sage is iffy in winter. It seems to half die back, but comes back every spring.

What other culinary perennial herbs are my fellow New Englanders growing?

Bill


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Marjoram but it tastes like & cooks like oregano. Tarragon. 3 or 4 different kinds of mint. They all become leafless sticks in winter, or die back to the ground (tarragon) and regrow in the spring. Do nasturtium blossoms count as culinary herbs? No, wait; they're not perennial.

Now, what I'd LIKE to grow as well, is a Meyer lemon tree like my son has in Berkeley, fresh basil outdoors all year round like in the Mediterranean area, and a healthy shrub of rosemary like I see around the Napa Valley. I guess the winter's getting a bit long for me, right now....

Carol


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Rosemary and Bay in the house. Lovage, mint, creeping thyme, peppermint, and catnip outside. We managed to eat the chives into total submission.


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Couldn't agree with you more, Carol. . .which is why my NEXT house (sooner rather than later, I hope) must have a small attached greenhouse, specifically
for growing herbs and greens over the winter. I actually have a potted Meyer
lemon now, but getting that monster (with it's treacherous thorns) up and down the basement stairs twice a year is an ordeal.

The only other perennial herbs that I grow, in addition to all those listed above, would be garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), both for it's ample stalks
(lots of them in the freezer) and it's prolific late-season flower display. . .
and, of course, lavender.

Carl


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

I've got the ones listed above plus bronze fennel and lemon balm - that's about it.

My rosemary doesn't very well as far as overwintering - some plants have survived over a few mild winters, near a south-facing wall, but generally they're annuals for me.

Dill self-sows pretty nicely, as does a strange purple herb that looks a lot like a dark coleus (or a purple basil) - can't recall the name at the moment, but it's supposed to be edible, and is used in Japanese cuisine. I've never had the urge to eat it, so I don't know what it actually tastes like.

Yes, a greenhouse for cold season crops would be really nice. Seems like a lot of work, though, and since a local farmer sells greens all year, I'm pretty happy to let him do the work for me.


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I have a Meyer lemon Carol. It's in a pot of course and I bring it into the sunroom for winter. It's just barely showing some tiny white globes that will be the flowers. I would say it will bloom in about 3 weeks. I hand pollinate and usually get a few lemons.


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Rosemary and Bay in the house. Lovage, mint, creeping thyme, peppermint, and catnip outside. We managed to eat the chives into total submission.


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Like dtd I have had off and on luck over wintering rosemary outside and currently feel as though I might have better luck wintering over my plants indoors. Although keeping rosemary happy indoors much past January/February has alluded me as well. Mad Gal can you share what you do to keep your rosemary happy indoors all winter long.


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Katy and DTD,

Are you growing Rosemary "Arp"? I've had it for years with no problems. It thrives and blooms every spring. I have to lop off chunks of it when it overtakes the walkway! It's on the west side of the house and gets full winter wind too.

Here's a photo:
Hardy Rosemary "Arp" flower detail

Bill


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Sorry for the double posting.

I'm not sure exactly what I do or don't do to the rosemary. Thalassa Cruso said something about gardenia liking to be an 'only houseplant', and I've wondered if that's actually true of most woodies that get pulled into the house in fall. I don't tend to keep real houseplants, and the few I've tried tend to die from lack of watering. So normal houseplant care and I aren't really on speaking terms.

This is actually my second rosemary. The first was purchased at a garden center outside Philadelphia, and may very well have been Arp. It was noticably different from other rosemaries in that it was thinner leaved, the leaves had a permanent white fuzz, and the taste wasn't as strong. It also seemed to be a fairly easy keeper for overwintering inside. It died two years ago from being totally rootbound, and I bought a new one. The new one isn't the blooming machine the old one was, and does seem more persnickety regarding water. A couple of times over the summer I had to move it under the house eaves because it was looking waterlogged.


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MG,

I don't think "Arp" would be long lived in zone 5, although it could survive some mild winters for a while. As far as mine, it doesn't have any unusual white fuzz, and it definitely has a rosemary fragrance and flavor. Maybe you had another variety.


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Bill, I think MG keeps her rosemary indoors, if I'm reading correctly. Rosemary never overwintered for me. I never knew it was a perennial! Maybe I'll try Arp and see how it does.

I grow thyme and oregano. I tried sage once but it didn't survive.

I think I need to pay more attention to my herb garden - well, let's be honest here. I need to *make* a real herb garden first, and then pay more attention to it. I usually have annual herbs in a pot outside the back door, and then my thyme and oregano out in the raised veggie beds, but I'd love to have a bigger, more established and defined herb garden, with more perennial herbs.

Where are those seed catalogs....

:)
Dee


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

In addition to those mentioned above, the only other perennial one I grow is winter savory (unless you consider hops, lavender, horehound & anise hyssop culinary herbs.)


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Yes, the rosemary lives in a pot, and spends the winter inside. It is hardier than a lot of people think, and would be fine outside this year, but -15F has a nasty habit of doing plants in.


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-Add to the list tarragon but it's been unhappy in my garden, coming back but not with gusto.
-Greek oregano, nice flavor (white flowers) and since I finally found a recipe that demands fresh oregano, I love it.
-Enjoy lemon balm esp if I make some herbal ice tea but mostly I enjoy smelling it in the garden. Watch it though, it can self seed all over the place.
- Salad burnett because it has such pretty foliage.

The strange dark purple leaf is probably perilla, an oriental herb. Calendula readily self-sows and I love it in the garden but like nasturtium, I usually forget to eat it. Also, love borage flowers.

My lemon verbena is surviving in a partially heated garage in a north window.

I believe the good marjoram is an annual, the perennial marjoram doesn't have a great flavor but does have pretty flowers but it gets tall and seeds all over the place so it is banned from my garden. I also grow a broad leaved chive mostly for the pretty pink blossoms. I think the leaves are too tough.


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Most herbs aren't hardy enough to winter over here, but I've been successful with lovage (dried leaves are great in soups, stews, poultry stuffing, etc.) I have lemon balm and mints, but they are pretty much a nuisance and have been relegated to far corners of hedgerows to keep them from taking over the lawn and rest of the garden. I had savory in a previous garden, but never used it, so didn't replant it here. The either oregano or marjoram I had was hardy, but not great flavor, so it didn't get replanted. I have thyme also, but never end up harvesting it - all those little leaves are so fussy to get off the stem. Culinary sage is iffy here; may die totally in a cold & snowless winter & otherwise is so set back by winter that I haven't the heart to harvest it as it struggles to recover.

I have been successful in overwintering bay in the house (or this year in a window in the unheated garage - we'll see if it survives) but not with lavender or rosemary, either inside or out.

Dee - I interplant my herbs with either the veggies (for annual herbs) or in the perennial bed. Because they don't have a separate garden, they get cared for when the other plants do, and I harvest as needed, usually when I'm gathering veggies for dinner or in September for freezing and drying.


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I grow all sorts of things. Two types of thyme (vulgaris and some unknown creeping variety...possibly English yellow?), two types of sage (officinalis and Berggarten), two types of lavender (Munstead and one unknown other), French tarragon, oregano (a descendant of ones I planted from seed as a child about 30 years ago), chives, peppermint & spearmint (in a pot sunk in the ground, in the hopes they won't escape!). Rosemary goes out in the Summer and comes in for the Winter, and today I picked up a tiny bay laurel which will do the same.

I added some mostly-medicinals this past year, which I hope will come back. Lemon balm and feverfew, for instance.

As for reseeding annuals & biennials, dill managed to reseed itself last year, and this past Summer the neighbor's parsley stuck its head through the fence and went to seed. I moved some of the seedlings into the herb bed in the Fall, and I imagine they'll keep going in the Spring. I have high hopes for chamomile, which I know dropped seeds all over the place.

Not herbs per se, but I've got Egyptian Walking Onions that have a nice long season and will come back & propagate like mad, and I'm interested in doing something with the Italian chicory that also escaped from the neighbor's yard.

As for Bill in RI...where did you get your Arp rosemary? I've been wanting one for the last few years, and have never seen any locally. If I can't find one, I'll need to bite the bullet and mail-order...but if I could get one in person, I'd be all the happier.


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leira,

I have an older plant that I got from Logees in Danielson, CT many years ago. They may have it again from time to time. I also found it again at a nursery along route 1 in Narragansett in summer of 2008. I don't recall the name but next time I am down that way I'll look. I'm surprised that more people don't know that rosemary is a perennial. In slightly warmer climates (zone 7 or higher) is where most kinds are hardy and they are robust shrubs or trailing plants, and are very long lived. In Italy and California I've seen them used as impressive landscape elements and the trailing kinds can be seen cascading over stone walls. But Arp has proven quite hardy for me here in Providence growing to a shrub 3+ by 3+ feet and blooming nicely in spring. (see the photo I posted in this thread)

Bill


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I assume we are talking culinary herbs? We all have perennials that might be considered medicinal, like echinacea, digitalis, etc.

Like Babs, I grow herbs either with my vegetables or perennials. Basil, the annual herb, is our most popular herb. It gets used a lot. Chives would be the second most used. Like Babs, I grow thyme and love it along the edge of my perennial beds, but harvesting is a pain. We have mint, which I love, and should use it more. I do use the leaves to rub on to keep mosquitoes away and it seems to work briefly. Just like Leira, I grow my mints in pots which I sink in the vegetable beds for the winter, to keep it from becoming invasive. My favorite is the variegated one.

I grow parsley too, a biennial, which seems to come back most years by reseeding. Sometimes I juice it, but I grow it to attract beneficials more than anything. Dandelion is another I sometimes juice. We have just enough. [g] It has lots of nutritional value. Lavender is another herb that I do actually use. I like to use it either as a sachet or as a decoration. I used to grow Lemon Balm but wow, does that spread and reseed. I thought I would use it for tea, but I didn't enjoy it, so I ripped it out. we ripped out Sweet Woodruff too. We have Viola odorata which is supposed to be the best for culinary purposes, but I only grow it for the fragrance. Sage winters over some years but I use the variegated form in the perennial garden for decorative only. The same for Bronze Fennel which I enjoy with perennials. Nepeta, the neighborhood cats use. [g] My neighbor has Horseradish.

I keep meaning to get another Bay Leaf Tree. We do use that in spaghetti sauce. I can't seem to get Dill to grow for some reason, which should reseed.


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I forgot to mention, if you are looking for Rosemary 'Arp', Sandy Mush Herbs is a mail order source for it @ $4.75.


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Thanks, Bill. Connecticut is out of my way, but I might be convinced to take a trip to Narragansett if I knew I'd find an Arp once I got there.

I had no idea that people didn't know rosemary was perennial, but just today I was at a greenhouse, and a decent number of the rosemary plants there were actually labeled as "annual" -- about half of the prostrate ones, for instance, while the other half were labeled "perennial." Odd.

I've always envied the rosemary hedges I've seen in places like California, or the shrubs I've seen in DC, or Albuquerque, or Portland (Oregon, not Maine). Ah, for just one more zone! It sounds like Arp is the answer though, if I can just find one. I know I can find one by mail-order if I can't find one locally (thanks for the pointer, prairiemoon!)

Prairiemoon, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who finds harvesting thyme to be a pain. I can't believe how much work I go through to get a couple of tablespoons.

I've taken to making ice creams and sorbets over the last couple of years, and a lot of my mint goes into mint chocolate chip ice cream. I've also made herbal sorbets, which can be a bit of an acquired taste, depending. I found a very promising-sounding recipe for a 5-herb ice cream that uses mint, lavender, lemon balm, tarragon, and basil, all of which grow in my garden -- I didn't get to it last year (too busy having a baby!), but it's definitely on my list for this year.


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nhbabs, you're most likely right - the herbs would get much better care mixed in the veggie garden, and that's where the few that I have are now. I guess maybe I like the "idea" of an herb garden, but it is on my list of things to establish in the yard.

I agree that thyme is a major pain to harvest. What I do is in the fall stick bunches of it in paper lunch bags, with holes punched in the bags. I shake the bags once or twice a day for a few weeks, and then if I have some spare time I'll sit down and pick through some stems for 20 minutes or so. Then I stick whatever I didn't harvest back in the bags for another day.

Often we don't even get that far. My husband and I have taken to just throwing a few stems into the pot and then pulling out the bare stems later.

I'm trying dill for the third year now. I can't seem to get it to grow. I'm more interested in it for bouquets than for eating though!

:)
Dee


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I just saw a photo of a trailing rosemary hanging over a stone wall and I loved it. I might have to try that 'Arp' as well.

Leira, that's a great idea for using mint. We do have an ice cream machine and never use it. Where do you get your ice cream recipes? I will be interested to hear how you like the 5 herb ice cream.

Dee, I also find the idea of an herb garden visually appealing and I'm always drawn to plants that are useful. Good idea of just throwing a stem of thyme in the pot! Isn't it odd that we have trouble growing Dill. What is that about? [g] I thought it was supposed to be one of the easiest.


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Leira,
What part of Mass. do you live in? Logees is only about 40 minutes from Providence in Danielson, right over the CT line. If you've never been, you're in for a surprise! It's like visiting a compact botanical garden under glass and they have some of the most unusual plants you'll ever see.

Bill


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Yeah, PM2, that dill is a pain. I have a friend who laughs at me because it grows all over her yard and she can't imagine why I can't grow it. I just keep telling myself that if I can get one or two to grow and go to seed, I'll be all set.

I would love an ice cream machine, but I'm too afraid, lol. The last thing I need is another reason to eat more ice cream. At least now, if it's not in the house, I'm usually too lazy to drive to the store. If I have a machine in the house, nothing will stop me from making it - unless it's driving to the store for ingredients, lol. No, I'm better off without it.... although mint chocolate chip, as leira mentioned above, is one of my absolute favorites... certainly would be a good way to keep that mint in check, wouldn't it...?

:)
Dee


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Dee, I was thinking the same thing about the Dill, if I could just get one to go to seed. I am going to have to try it in another sunnier location and see if that helps.

We have had an ice cream machine for about 5 years and have not used it once, so it's not that great a temptation. [g] I was going to give it to one of the kids to take home to their house, but they didn't have room for it. Minty chocolate chip is my favorite too. I am thinking that being able to make home made ice cream can be a good thing in a number of ways. First you can make it frozen yogurt instead. You can make it low fat, then you have protein and calcium and not the fat. You can lower the amount of sugar and use organic ingredients and it would be better for you than store bought. Then you could add lots of fruit and raw nuts and make it even more nutritious. That was the reason I bought it and we kept it in the box and it was put away in a closet and forgotten. Now that Leira has given me the idea of using up the mint, I am going to drag it out of the closet and leave it on the counter until I use it! And if you make a pact with yourself that you will only eat home made frozen yogurt, I think having to go to the trouble of making it would mean you would eat it a whole lot less....lol.


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Thanks, defrost, perilla it is.

Liera, Salvia Berggarten is often sold as an annual. I've got a few hardy culinary sages that survive winters reliably, but have never had Berggarten come back. Too bad, because it's one of my faves. I've actually had much better luck with variegated sages, which is not the norm (solid colored plants are generally hardier, IMHO). I haven't tried them in recipes, though - I use the plain gray-green ones for cooking.

Bill, most people think of rosemary as a tender perennial, and use the term 'annual' as shorthand for that. And if you really wonder why, well, the reason is because it is not reliably hardy in most of New England.

I've got a couple of very dead rosemary plants in pots in my cool back hall, and a few more mostly dead ones in large pots just outside the door; an extended trip this fall meant it fell to my DH to care for the houseplants; I'll be buying more this spring. My small bay tree, on the other hand, survived 6 weeks or so of complete neglect very well- I guess it's just not as sensitive to drying out as rosemary is.


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Bill, I'm in the Boston area, so Logee's is at least an hour and 20 minutes from me. If it's a Destination, though, it might be worth the trip.

I'm glad that I've inspired so many of you to dig out your dusty old ice cream makers and put them to use. I've been having loads of fun with mine, and of course if I can use ingredients from the garden, that's even better. I've included a link to my favorite Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream recipe below. It has an "herby" quality when you make it as written, but if you let the custard sit in the fridge for about 3 days before churning it (oops), it loses the "herby" quality and tastes a bit more like the commercial stuff.

I've also made a Purple Basil Sorbet (the recipe calls for basil or mint). It was a little unusual, but lots of people liked it, and with the purple basil, the color was stunning. I think it a scoop of it would be great in a bowl of gazpacho or other chilled soup, or it might work well as a between-course palate cleanser. It occurs to me that this recipe might also work really well with lemon balm, and I'm sure that something like chocolate mint would be great.

The Five-Herb Ice Milk recipe I'm anxious to try is from Epicurious, which is my all-time favorite online recipe source.

I do keep my herbs in their own raised bed, which is nearer to the house, and the kitchen door, than the veggie bed (ha ha ha, listen to me...as if anything in my small city yard isn't "near"). This lets me keep just annuals in the vegetable bed, which is good while I'm still heavily amending the soil and re-arranging things in an attempt to find some sort of ideal.

Diggingthedirt, my Berggarten has only made it through one Winter so far, and to be fair, every really cold snap happened while the herb bed was under a nice thick layer of snow. I hope I'm as lucky with that this year, when the ground has been more bare. Last year I also successfully overwintered a rosemary indoors for the first time ever, which might have me feeling a little cocky...so yesterday I bought a tiny little bay tree to replace the one I neglected to death a couple of years ago while planning my wedding. Like you, though, I did find that it was able to survive an awful lot before it gave up.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream.


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I almost forgot. Here's another recipe that I haven't yet tried, but which has struck my fancy: Sage Ice Cream.


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I've tried Lavender gelato, but only from a local shop - it's really delicious, and really different. Maybe I'll try making it this year; we have a little ice cream maker, and it's kind of fun to use. There's so much less guilt eating things you make yourself, isn't there?


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Gee, PM2, if I want ice cream, I want *ICE CREAM*, lol! No frozen yogurt for me! Yuck! LOL. And low-fat? Fuhgeddaboutit! I suppose you are right that I can use higher quality and/or organic ingredients, but I still want the good (i.e. fattening) stuff.

You know, I recenty inherited my MIL's pasta machine. I used it quite often when I first got it, and now not so much. I guess the ice cream machine would be the same, but I just don't want to tempt fate, lol!

Speaking of lavender, I remember Monique once made some kind of lavender pound cake - delicious!

:)
Dee


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This has turned into a pretty good thread!
Getting back to rosemary, I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of nurseries sold the standard (i.e not hardy) as annuals since most people expect them to be annuals anyway, and that way they get you to buy more the next year! But the variety "Arp" is definitely a perennial in zone 6, which is a substantial part of New England. It might even make a few mild winters in protected parts of zone 5. Even if it lasts only two or three years its' still a decent investment. But what I really like is that when it gets established, it blooms in spring for quite a while.

Bill


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LOL Well, if that's the case, then no ice cream machine is a good idea for you, Dee. [g] DD has a pasta machine that sits in the box too. Lavender pound cake sounds interesting. Maybe this year, I will remember to look for a few more recipes to use herbs in.

Bill, this has been an interesting thread. I am going to try that 'Arp' this year too.


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Bill, you are making me swoon thinking of a hardy rosemary. I'm too far north but I be on the look out for an Arp and maybe try giving it some protection. I wintered one rosemary for a couple of winters but gave it away last fall at a swap to someone who wanted one. I had forgotten where I got it and, of course, nothing seems to be well labeled anymore, but the needles were more narrow and more gray than usual. (I also like to have a prostrate rosemary in a planter. I buy a new one every spring and usually the leaves are greener and glossier.) We keep our house cool. The first winter was while we were still undergoing renovations. It spent the winter in a north window on the back of the toilet tank in a tiny bathroom. I think maybe the humidity from the shower helped. A friend used to aim a humidifier at hers and never had a problem.


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Defrost if you get "Arp" you might have success if you plant it in a container and bring it into an unheated garage or similar place. In the ground you might have luck with a good mulch after the ground freezes and a styrofoam box of some sort, but if it does as well as mine, you'll be needing a large box before long! Seriously though it might be worth a try in a container or with protection in a good microclimate.

Bill


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Just noticed Arp at Bluestone Perennials, and thought I'd pass along the link. It looks like a typically great BP price, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: Arp at Bluestone


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Thanks for that link, diggingthedirt! We're taking a road trip to Ohio in April to visit my husband's mother, and we'll be driving right past Bluestone. If they're only "5 minutes north of I-90" as they claim, it will be easy to stop in.

Maybe I'll be able to buy an Arp in person, after all!

Speaking of rosemary, my "regular" one is begging to have a couple more babies layered from it. It took care of the first one all by itself (rooted itself right in its pot, while sitting on the kitchen counter in its over-Wintering location), and I pinned another branch down to the soil a week or so ago. I noticed today that a couple of other branches look like great candidates for the same, but they won't reach to the soil in the same pot -- I'd need to put another pot next to it, which would make the whole setup rather difficult to move. I may still do it, however. This Spring I may be overrun with rosemary, but somehow I think I should be able to find some takers for it.


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Leira - I had to laugh at your comment:
" . . . which I hope will come back. Lemon balm and feverfew, for instance."
In my garden they have become weeds, self-seeding everywhere, so I wouldn't worry about them not returning if you had any flowers last year. Feverfew acts as a biennial here, rather than a perennial.


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RE: Perennial culinary herbs

Babs, you're totally right! I know I shouldn't be concerned (or perhaps I should be concerned about having the opposite problem), but I hate to count my eggs before they're hatched. Until a plant has survived its first Winter in my garden, I don't like to say I have it established.

Since I completely failed to deadhead last Summer, it's very possible that I'll be overrun this year. If I am, I guess that's all the more to offer at plant swaps and/or for the local garden club's plant sale (proceeds benefit the library). The herbs in question came from a GardenWeb plant swap last year.

Thanks for the advice about Feverfew as a biennial, too. Knowing that, I'll make sure to always allow a little bit of reseeding, and always keep around at least one new plant every year to continue the chain.


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Hi, does trailing rosemary have the same culinary benefits as regular rosemary?
Thanks!
LeighAnne


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I don't think there is any difference between regular rosemray and prostrate except regular rosemary seems to grow more quickly.


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IME trailing rosemary looks and smells just like tall rosemary and can be used the same way in cooking. It is a bit less hardy than some of the taller kinds and I've never been able to overwinter one indoors, while I have been successful overwintering tall rosemary inside.


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