“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.
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 Diana, and Carol@May Dreams Gardens for her meme Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th.
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.
Rosemary 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.
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. Also 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.
Rosemary 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.
The wonderful smell of rosemary is associated with good food and good health.
Rosemary leaves are perfect for flavoring foods such as stuffings, sauces, fish, omelets, soups and meats. It also is great flavor in oils 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.
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.
Rosemary 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.
Rosemary is a wonderful ornamental plant in gardens and for xeriscape landscaping, especially in areas that have a similar climate to the Mediterranean. 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.
“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.
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!!
Check out other posts in the series, Simply the Best-Herbs:
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.
I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.
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