I keep a small herb garden next to my kitchen door. It makes collecting fresh herbs while I’m cooking convenient. Years ago when I first moved to Pennsylvania I was dishearten to find that some herbs that I had always grown as perennials would not stand the harsh winters of western Pennsylvania. One perennial herb that I have to replant every year in my herb garden is common rosemary.
Rosemary is a wonderfully fragrant herb with small pointed evergreen leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean basin and in western culture it is often associated with the Virgin Mary because of its blue flowers.
As a kitchen herb it is used to season lamb, pork, chicken and in stews. But be careful when you use it. A little rosemary goes a long way. It’s easy to overpower a recipe with it.
The essential oil of rosemary is used to make Hungary Water, incense and perfume. Rosemary has a traditional use for restoring memory, curing headaches and at one time was burned in sick rooms with Juniper berries as a disinfectant. Rosemary is associated with love, steadfastness and faithfulness and was commonly woven into bridal wreaths. In some parts of Wales it is still the custom to give small sprigs of rosemary to funeral guests and mourners to throw into the new grave.
New plants are best started from cuttings and not from seed. Rosemary that is grown from seed is often inferior to that which is started from a slip. Rosemary is very happy to live as a potted plant and can be moved indoors to a very sunny window sill during the winter.
Rosemary requires a full sun location for best fragrance, ordinary to poor soil and not too much water.