Fragrant rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) is a perennial, evergreen shrub. Not only are they wonderful cooking herbs, they are also dependable plants to use in any drought tolerant garden. These plants are native to the Mediterranean region which is known for mild winters, hot summers and generally low rainfall.
Rosemary has fragrant, sticky, pine needle-like leaves with deep green on top and white underneath. Mature rosemary branches are brown and have a thin papery covering that looks like peeling bark. Rosemary plants are easy to grow in containers and can also be used for bonsai. Pinch the tips of the branches to encourage shrubbier growth – and use the fragrant leaves in your dinner.
Rosemary blooms in winter and early spring. Flowers are usually blue, but white and pink varieties can be found at specialty nurseries or online seed catalogues. The flowers are small, just under 1/2 across, but they cover the tips of the stems in a way that makes the entire plant turn blue. For dramatic impact in the landscape plant a row of rosemary up high in a rock garden, or on the top of a set of garden steps. A bank of blooming rosemary tumbling over the edges looks like a wave of blue and green. When rosemary is brushed it releases a cloud of refreshing fragrance into the air.
Rosemary is also subject to root rot, so do not let the plants sit in a wet pot. In the garden, if your soil is heavy clay, or retains a lot of water, you should make sure the soil is dry before watering again.
Rosemary plants are a tasty herb for all types of recipes. You can use it fresh from the garden, just pull the leaves off the woody stems. Rosemary tastes good with meat, in soups or stews or with vegetables. Whole branches are great to stuff into whole baked chickens or turkey. Or put a spring of rosemary in olive oil for dipping with French bread. Layer slices of bread with fresh rosemary then warm slightly. The essential oils will seep into the bread and the springs can be eaten raw.
Rosemary is a good choice for container gardens, herb gardens or desert gardens. Drop by my new Rosemary Plant Page to read more and see photos.