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The Top Five Herbs that Survive Snowy Wet Winters

The Top Five Herbs that Survive Snowy Wet Winters

Many of our favourite culinary herbs hail from Mediterranean climes, where dry conditions and mild winters are the norm. In cold northern or montane climates, herbs in this class—which include lavender, rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano—limp through the winter, if they survive at all. In places with wet snowy winters they are best treated as garden annuals, or grown in a pot and brought indoors once cold weather hits. But there are a slew of temperate climate herbs that are naturally adapted to such conditions. Here are five of the most robust.

Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor)

This underappreciated herb has tender leaves with a pleasing cucumber-like flavour. It grows in a low clump about 12 inches (30cm) tall and twice as wide. Salad burnet is hardy to at least -30 degrees, grows in full sun or part shade and appreciates regular irrigation in summer.

Winter Savoury (Satureja montana)

A strongly flavoured herb typically used in soups and meat dishes, this tiny semi-evergreen shrub grows just 12 inches (30cm) tall and can be harvested from beneath the snow. It is hardy to about -20 degrees and needs full sun, but only minimal summer irrigation.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)

This herb, which is technically a biennial (lives for two years), is for more than just decoration on the plate—try it on soups, salads, omelettes and other savoury dishes. It thrives in cold, wet weather, and will survive temperatures down to at least -20 degrees. Parsley likes full sun and needs regular irrigation in summer.

Mint (Mentha Species)

There are many types of mint with flavours ranging from the cool smooth feel of a breath freshener to hints of apples, lemon and chocolate. All thrive in damp conditions and most tolerate temperatures down to around -40° C (-40° F) . Mints grow best in part sun and require regular irrigation in summer.

Lovage (Levisticum officinale)

Another underappreciated herb to try, lovage imparts a celery-like flavour to soups, salads and other savoury dishes. It has an upright growth habit with foliage up to 91 cm (36 inches) and flowers stalks that rise a foot or more beyond that. The flowers are reminiscent of dill or Queen Anne's lace. Hardy to -29° C (-20° F) degrees, it needs full sun and regular irrigation in summer.