No cook should be without the pungent fragrance of rosemary, the spicy aroma of dried oregano, or the minty freshness of basil leaves to finish or complement dishes. We grow rosemary, sage, thyme, lavender, bay leaf, oregano, parsley and basil in our small garden, though rosemary is the herb we use most often.

Any sunny spot will do, whether a large pot on a doorstep or a box in a window sill, but the more space you have, the deeper your herbs will root themselves, and the more productive they will be. We enjoy the progression of the seasons in our herb garden. In late winter, the sharp peppery spears of the chives begin to appear, while spring brings the large purple sage flowers, and the tiny fragrant white blossoms of the thyme. Spring also brings the rebirth of the oregano and the parsley (perennial herbs, they die back in the winter). Summer sees the aromatic flowering of the lavender and oregano, and mysteriously, the lovely purple flowers of the rosemary can appear almost any time of year. Our bay is grown in a pot, so that it can be brought under cover during the wet winters here in coastal British Columbia.

We harvest some of the growth for drying (just before the flowers open is the best time for this, as the essential oils are at their peak then), and leave some to use fresh, one of the great joys of cooking.

We avoid commercially-obtained dried herbs, unless purchased from a farmers' market, as they are often bitter. Yuck.

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