Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis name means “dew of the sea”) is an evergreen shrub or shrublet native to seaside cliffs of the Mediterranean region. This tough and versatile plant thrives in full sun tolerating poor alkaline soil & drought.

There are various forms of rosemary from stiff upright shrubs, to low growing creepers, with heights ranging from less than 1′ to up to 6′ tall. Rosemary has glossy green leaves and winter or spring blooms of various shades of blue (rarely white or pink). The edible flowers can be used in salads, as garnish; are attractive to bees, butterflies & birds.

The aromatic leaves are widely used as a seasoning for all kinds of meat dishes (especially lamb), casseroles, marinades, baked fish, rice, salads, vinegar and oil. The leaves have been used for many centuries for external and internal medicinal preparations for nervous disorders, upset stomach, baldness, headaches, pain, arthritis, and bruises. More recently, rosemary has been researched and findings show positive results for Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, indigestion, menstrual cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, circulatory problems, eczema and rheumatic disorders. Rosemary is a powerful antioxidant with antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. It can be taken as a tea internally or used externally as a skin wash. The essential oil is a great bath additive for sore muscles.

You can grow your own rosemary in herb gardens, containers or window boxes. Choose the hardiest variety for your area. Avoid planting rosemary in wet areas and protect from harsh winter winds (may need protection). Here are two of my favorite rosemaries, one is a low grower and the other is an upright grower.

Red Flowering’ Rosemary. This compact bush grows 24” tall by 18” wide bears attractive pink flowers with dark red hued detail. Deer resistant, drought tolerant and hardy to zone 7. Use in the landscape as a small hedge, in herb gardens or in containers.

‘Tailing Irene’ Rosemary. Creeping trailer that grows 6-12” tall spreading 30-36”. This late winter / early spring bloomer has delicate light blue flowers. Deer resistant, drought tolerant and hardy to zone 7. Use in containers, window boxes or hanging baskets. Works great as a ground cover for erosion control in rock gardens, banks and walls.

You should always consult your health care professional when needed. Pregnant women should avoid rosemary. Large or excessive use of the essential oil may cause irritations. Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s safe and vice versa. All Drugs and herbs have side effects and influence each other.

If you would like to know more about rosemary and growing herbs, join me for Herbal Kitchen & Tea Garden Class at Ubiquitous Journey on Tuesday March 20th at 6pm and on Saturday March 24th at 10:30am and Sunday March 25th at 11:30am at The Pond Pad at Alpine Nursery. Email for more details:

References:  Blooming Nursery;  Sunset Western Garden Guide; Prescriptions for Natural Healing by Phyllis A. Bach

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