Herb trio brightens my windowsill

HERB PLANTERMy sister-in-law gave me this sweet set of Rae Dunn pots for Christmas. They sat empty for weeks as I recovered from ankle surgery, and I pondered what to fill them with once I was up and about again.

Succulents? Always a good idea. Orchids? Probably not, the pots don’t have big enough drainage holes for orchids. African violets? Get real—I’m lucky to keep alive the one I have (knock wood). Grocery store primroses… I love them! They would look cute in white pots. But I like to put primroses on the dining room table. These pots are oblong with lettering on one side, not the best setup for a centerpiece.

I continued to consider my options. Then while writing an article about herbs de provence, I started thinking about photos to accompany the article. I would need to take pictures of potted herbs. Bingo! Herbs would look great in the pots!

Finding fresh potted herbs is a challenge in February. Sometimes grocery stores have them, but it’s hit or miss. They don’t usually carry a wide array of herbs either. I remembered visiting Chapons Greenhouses in the dead of winter a couple years ago, and they carried a nice selection they had grown on the premises.

So off I went. Turns out Chapons had lots of terrific-looking herbs and I enjoyed looking around at all the plants in the greenhouse too. I chose three herbs that are in herbes de provence blends—basil, rosemary and parsley. I brought the herbs home and they fit perfectly into the new pots.

I took the photos and sent in my article, and now I have this sweet trio of useful herbs on my windowsill just an arm’s length from the chopping board. I love tossing roughly chopped parsley into green salads, where it adds a pungent depth to the greens. I’ll snip the rosemary to roast with root vegetables like carrots, potatoes and parsnips. I used a lot of the basil in a vegetable soup I made for a soup exchange (think cookie exchange except with soup).

If you want fresh herbs for your kitchen windowsill, find a few decorative pots you like (make sure they have drainage holes). Then visit a local garden center that carries fresh potted herbs. Choose those you enjoy and that have similar light requirements (most herbs like a sunny spot). Pay attention to watering requirements too. In my trio, the basil and parsley need a bit more water than the rosemary.

Fresh herbs in fun pots make great gifts too!

An herb on my windowsill

I’m enjoying a pot of rosemary on my windowsill this winter. It’s an aromatic herb that is wonderful to use in the kitchen. Running my hand over the foliage to release itrosemary-in-a-pot-4s pungent fragrance lifts my spirits on a winter day.

Full disclosure: I have killed my share of rosemary plants since they are not hardy below 20 degrees F and need extra care for wintering indoors. And unless you live in a climate where they flourish outdoors, or you can overwinter yours in a greenhouse (lucky you), don’t expect rosemary to be long lived. But don’t let all this deter you. Rosemary plants are readily available in garden centers and I am here to share some tips for keeping yours happy for at least several years.

Rosemary hails from the Mediterranean where it thrives in sun, sandy soil, and a temperate climate. It naturally grows as a small woody shrub.

You can find rosemary plants in spring at garden centers. Many greenhouses offer rosemary plants and topiaries during the holidays too as festive, alternative evergreens. I bought the one pictured here at Chapons in Pittsburgh during the holidays. I have another one I planted in the ground outdoors in the spring. It has done so well in the full sun and well-draining soil there that I am attempting to overwinter it; I wrapped it in burlap. Fingers crossed.

Two keys for keeping rosemary happy are well-draining soil and humidity. Summer is easy—just place your pot of rosemary outdoors in the sun and pretty much forget it except during the hottest, driest days, when it appreciates watering. When fall approaches and the days start to shorten, bring your rosemary pot indoors. It’s best to bring it in before you turn on your furnace. Set the pot in a cool, sunny window that faces south or west. To provide the humid conditions that rosemary loves, place a tray of pebbles under the pot and fill it with water. Misting the plant a few times a week is also a good idea. Water about once a week, but less often if the soil stays moist.