Simply The Best Herbs-December

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“As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language.”

Sir Thomas More

 

This month I thought I would profile an evergreen herb for December as the solstice and Christmas are upon us.  Rosemary reminds me of holidays and pine trees due to its appearance and scent.  As a matter of fact, Christmas lore says that on the very day Jesus was born, the Rosemary plant bloomed out of season as a sign a reverence.  What a sweet story.IMG_0448

Rosmarinus officinalis is a woody, perennial herb with wonderfully fragrant, evergreen leaves that look like pine needles.  It is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae.  Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region so it is not hardy in my area.  I grow it in pots, bring it in during winter and I keep it alive under the grow lights.

As I profile my last herb for 2013, I am linking in with Diana@Elephant’s Eye on False Bay for her meme, Dozen for Dianaand Carol@May Dreams Gardens for her meme Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th.

I am also joining with Pam@Digging for her Foliage Follow Up on the 16th, and Christina@Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for her Garden Bloggers Foliage Day on the 22nd.

 

 

Name

The name rosemary comes from the Latin, ros and marinus, meaning “dew of the sea”.  In ancient Greek, the plant is sometimes called anthos, which means “flower”.

Rosmarinus officinalis is one of 2-4 species in the genus Rosmarinus.  The genus was named by the 18th-century naturalist Linnaeus.

 

 

About

IMG_0467Rosemary is great to grow in warmer climates as it can withstand droughts.  It grows in many forms; upright, shrub and trailing.  You can see in the first picture that the leaves are green above and white below, and appear fuzzy.  The plant flowers in white, pink, blue and purple.   Mine have never flowered, but when I visit family in Arizona I find theirs are blooming in fall.

Rosemary grows best in loamy soil.  Find an open site in full sun with good drainage as this plant does not like to be waterlogged.  It is best  propagated from an existing plant by clipping off a new soft shoot.  Strip a the leaves from the bottom, and plant it directly into the soil.   I hope to propagate several this winter from older plants I have indoors right now.

 

 

 

Folklore

The shrub became known as the ‘Rose of Mary’ because the Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over the blooming rosemary bush turning the flowers blue.

Rosemary is known for its ability to help with memory, and ancient Greek students would place sprigs in their hair when studying.  IMG_0425Also known as a symbol of remembrance, people would throw the herb into the grave of their deceased.

In the Middle Ages, rosemary was associated with weddings. The bride, groom and  guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary.

Newlywed couples would also plant a branch of rosemary on their wedding day. If the branch grew, it was a good sign.

IMG_0473Rosemary also was used as a love charm.  Rosemary was stuffed into cloth dolls to attract a lover.

This herb was used to help rid one of digestive problems.

It was believed that placing a sprig beneath your pillow would rid one of nightmares.

Rosemary was used in the garden to repel witches.  It was also said to grow abundantly in gardens where women ruled the house.  Of course by the 16th century, men were ripping it up to show that they ruled the their homes.

Rosemary grows wild on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and in Australia sprigs are worn on Anzac Day to signify remembrance.

 

 

 

Uses

The wonderful smell of rosemary is associated with good food and good health.

 

Culinary

Rosemary leaves are perfect for flavoring foods such as stuffings, sauces, fish, omelets, soups and meats.  It also is great flavor in IMG_0471oils for cooking and dipping.

Using the twigs when barbecuing is wonderful too as they give off a great smell as they burn.

Fresh rosemary has a better flavor, and is best to use over the dried form.  You can store it in the refrigerator in a slightly damp paper towel for several days.  Dried rosemary can be kept for about 6 months in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dark and dry place.  And something I have been meaning to try is putting sprigs in ice cube trays and covering them stock to use later in soups or stews.

 

Medicinal

Using rosemary in food is a great idea not only because it tastes good, but it is a great herb for your health.

Rosemary contains a number of antioxidants.  The oil it produces is very fragrant and is used in perfumes, shampoos, air fresheners and cleaning products.

IMG_0947Rosemary is said to stimulate the immune system, increase circulation, and improve digestion. It also is an anti-inflammatory herb that is used to reduce asthma attacks. Rosemary has been shown to improve concentration as it increases blood flow to the brain.

 

 

Garden

Rosemary is a wonderful ornamental plant in gardens and for xeriscape landscaping, especially in areas that have a similar climate to the IMG_0427Mediterranean. It is easy to grow and pest-resistant.  Rosemary can grow quite large and be pruned into formal shapes, topiary and low hedges.  Groundcover cultivars of rosemary are said to spread into a nice dense clump.

 

 

Language of Flowers

Rosemary is one of the most lovely herbs to grow and use as it is said to mean Remembrance.  What better herb to use for the holidays.

 

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“Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.”
–  Traditional Saying

 

 

 

 

I hope you will join in now and tell us all about how you are celebrating the new season especially around this very special solstice   Just write a post and leave a comment with your Seasonal Celebrations link.  

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Come Join Us:

Seasonal Celebrations is a time for marking the change of seasons and what is happening in your part of the world during this time.  I hope you will join in by creating a post telling us how you celebrate this time of year whether winter or summer or something else.  Share your traditions, holidays and celebrations in pictures and words.

And it seems so appropriate to collaborate with Beth and her Lessons Learned meme.  What lessons have you learned this past season of autumn here in the North and spring in the South.  Then tell us about your wishes, desires and dreams for this new season.

The rules are simple.  Just create a post that talks about lessons learned and/or seasonal celebrations.  If you are joining in for both memes please leave a comment on both our blog posts.  Or if you are choosing to join only one meme, leave a comment on that blog post.  Make sure to include a link with your comment.

Beth and I will do a summary post of our respective memes on the solstice (around the 21st of December).  And we will keep those posts linked on a page on our blog.  Your post should be linked in the weekend before the solstice to give us enough time to include your post in our summary.  And if you link in a bit late, never fear we will include it on the special blog page (which I still have to create).  The badges here can be used in your post.   So won’t you join in the celebration!!

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Check out other posts in the series, Simply the Best-Herbs:

November-Sage                      October-Dill               September-Parsley

August-Anise Hyssop           July-Basil                  June-Monarda   

May-Thyme                             April-Mint                 March-Common Yarrow

February-Chives                    January-Lavender

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Next up on the blog:  On the 20th, it will be time to reveal your Seasonal Celebrations.  The end of the month brings a special Christmas post and the last Wildflower Tale.

I wrote a guest post over at Vision and Verb.  I hope you will visit this wonderful website of women writers.

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my latest post.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

sharetheloveI am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2013.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

 

 

 

74 comments

  1. Lea says:

    Pretty plant, easy to grow here, and great for seasoning food, too!
    Thanks for all the extra information.
    Have a wonderful week!
    Lea

  2. Chloris says:

    Thank you for a lovely post about a lovely herb.
    I just checked my Gerard’s Herbal. He says ‘Rosemary comforteth the braine, the memorie, the inward senses, and restoreth speech unto them that are possessed with the dumbe palsie…’ He also tells us that: ‘the ‘floures made up into plates with Sugar after the manner of Sugar Roset and eaten, comfort the heart, and make it merry, quicken the spirits, and make them lively’. So that should get us into the Christmas spirit. At least it would if we knew how to make a ‘Sugar Roset’.
    Chloris

  3. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden says:

    Hi Donna, I did not know rosemary was associated with remembrance. I took rosemary cuttings in the fall as you have suggested and they are doing very well. (I find the mother plant is too large to keep indoors given the fact that I have limited space on my one windowsill with good light. Cuttings seem to be the better way to go.) My favourite use for rosemary is to sprinkle it on roast potatoes. Yum!

    • Donna says:

      Jennifer I love rosemary and potatoes too. I also am having to take cuttings as my plants that I have had for a few years are too big for under the grow lights…hoping mine do OK.

  4. Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening says:

    Donna-This is a such a wonderful and informative post. We’ve had Rosemary growing in our herb garden for about four years now. After losing others over the winter every year I finally got this hardy one that grew into a shrub. Hopefully it will continue to do well for we love the smell of it and it is great with cooking. Thanks for hosting Foliage Follow-Up!

  5. Rose says:

    Such an interesting post–lots of info here I didn’t know about rosemary before. Rosemary isn’t hardy here, either, so I was amazed when I visited the Dallas Arboretum last spring and saw a huge shrub that turned out to be rosemary! I had no idea they could grow so large.

  6. Pam/Digging says:

    Rosemary is a wonderful plant! I grow it too, and in the past had the prostrate as well as the upright form. It’s very hardy here in Austin and is one of our reliable evergreen shrubs — that you can eat! Gotta love that.

  7. Gail says:

    I bought a rosemary tree last year and it was so fragrant! I think I may have used it in a recipe or two. I didn’t think about it having medicinal value. Not sure what happened to it after the holidays.

  8. Ginnie says:

    You have just primed the pump for a good conversation with Astrid about whether or not we might start growing herbs off the common walkway outside our apartment. The back private balcony doesn’t get enough sun but the front public area (one floor up) might work with flower boxes. See what you started! Astrid has a very green thumb, so maybe this will happen starting this next spring. YAAAAY!

    • Donna says:

      Ginnie I love to start gardening conversations…my favorite ones 🙂 Here’s hoping you can get your herb garden. I am sure Astrid will create a fabulous garden with that green thumb!

  9. Dorothy says:

    Rosemary grows easily all year in my climate, but we don’t have any growing here at the time. I saw one of the local nurseries has pots of them shaped as topiaries, priced very reasonably, and I’ve been thinking about getting one. I love to run my fingers through the foliage as the scent lingers on.

  10. Laura Hegfield says:

    We are enjoying Rosemary we potted from the garden and brought indoors for the winter… I love to just brush past it to take in the aroma! Thanks as always for and the info, your lovely photos and for sharing the love up-close with I Heart Macro:-)

  11. Karin/Southern Meadows says:

    Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs! It often blooms in late winter here and it is great for the bees! I love running my fingers through it when I am out in the garden. In my garden rosemary is a favorite place for the garden spiders to make their webs and their bright yellow bodies pop against the green for the rosemary.

  12. Cathy says:

    Lovely pictures and information Donna. I have also heard it “regulates” blood pressure, lowering it if high, and raising it if low – maybe not good if you take blood pressure medication but goes to show how herbs can really help keep us healthy! Mine has flowered occasionally, but only a few flowers at a time, mostly in the winter if brought indoors. I am trying cuttings for the first time this year, so hope they take well.

    • Donna says:

      My goal is to get new ones going too and hoping to see a few flowers…I love how herbs are really our first medications that are natural.

  13. Andrea says:

    Merry Chistmas Donna, friend, may you be fully blessed again this season.

    Rosemary is my favorite among the herbs, i really love its scent, however it doesn’t flower here with us. I wonder if something is just wrong or it really miss the cold to flower. Anyway, i still love it.

    • Donna says:

      I think it does need a bit of cold weather to flower Andrea….wishing you a very Merry Christmas and most blessed and joyful New Year!!

  14. PlantPostings says:

    I love the scent of Rosemary–not crazy about it in food. But the flowers are lovely, too. And any plant the pollinators like is a great one to have in the garden!

  15. Jason says:

    Rosemary is not hardy here. For a while we grew it in a pot and brought it indoors for the winter. Then it got a bit too much benign neglect and croaked on us. Now I usually plant it during the growing season and let it die in winter.

    • Donna says:

      I had the same problem bringing it in Jason. I love to cook with fresh herbs so I am trying to keep some going under the lights…but they are in the basement and being neglected as we speak.

  16. Leora says:

    I love my rosemary plant. It has survived a few recent winters, but this coming one looks colder. Whenever I get a chance, I use it in my cooking.

    I should visit your post on dill.

  17. debsgarden says:

    I won’t tell my husband the part about rosemary meaning the woman rules, as we have several rosemary plants that grow successfully outdoors here. I love them, but he is indifferent and once even took a swipe at one with a chainsaw when it grew too large for his liking. May you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

    • Donna says:

      Mostly growing under light in the basement Michelle…Love seeing them when I get down there…I have to make myself go ride the bike down there so i can tend them or I forget them

  18. Susan says:

    I love rosemary too, maybe because it has always grown well for me. I often throw a sprig or two into the crockpot regardless of the recipe. the kitchen smells wonderful and it always seems to enhance the flavour of what ever I happen to be cooking. I’ll use it even more now I know it helps with brain function!

    • Donna says:

      Susan I love that idea of just throwing a sprig in a crockpot…I have soup pots bubbling on the stove all the time so I will have to start popping some rosemary in those too.

  19. Janet/Plantaliscious says:

    I think if I could only have one herb in my garden it would have to be rosemary, and not just because it is one of the few things that I can always get good cuttings from! Unbeatable fragrance, evergreen structure (I’m lucky, it is hardy here) and I love to cook with it too. I always forget the remembrance aspect (!), but next to lavender it must have the strongest scent so it makes sense.

  20. Patty says:

    Hi Donna, I noticed your icon on the Enchanted Gardens of Italy tour and I was wondering if you are planning to go. I have been dithering back and forth a bit but am seriously considering the trip.

  21. Island Threads says:

    great herb Donna, I have mine in a pot too but not because of cold, because of wet! it stays outside, the pot helps give good drainage, thanks for all the info, Frances

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