Rosemary: Fragrant, Hearty, Versatile Herb That is Easy to Grow, Has Many Uses

Delight your senses by planting rosemary somewhere in your landscape. This hearty shrub-like herb, a member of the mint family, can be used as an excellent cover for a sloping bank, a hedge, a standalone bush, a topiary or a potted plant.

Legend says that the herb’s common name, rosemary, comes from the Virgin Mary’s flight from Egypt. She draped her blue cloak over a rosemary bush and laid a flower on top. Overnight, the flower turned blue and the bush became known afterwards as the “Rose of Mary.” In actuality, the name derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, which is translated into “dew of the sea”.

This perennial herb originated in the Mediterranean. It is easy to grow, pest resistant and tolerates drought conditions. It is an attractive evergreen with tiny flowers, often a lovely shade of blue.

In addition to being an attractive addition to the landscape, this ancient, sweet smelling herb has many uses including medicinal, perfumery, cooking, antiseptic and decoration.

Rosemary is considered a stimulant and a mild analgesic. It’s been used to treat many ailments such as epilepsy, headaches, rheumatism, dandruff and poor circulation. It is also believed to improve memory. To make a tonic for treating headaches, add some sprigs of rosemary to hot water, strain and serve as a tea.

The sweet fragrance makes rosemary popular in potpourris, perfumes, cosmetics, lotions and tonics. For a refreshing bath, tuck a few sprigs into a piece of cheesecloth, tie securely and allow the herbs to infuse in the water.

Rosemary enhances the flavors of many foods and is incredibly useful in the kitchen. Try rosemary leaves on lamb, a classic combination that also helps aid the digestion of the lamb’s fat. Use its woody stems as skewers when making kebabs. Crumble leaves into bread dough or sprinkle on pork or chicken. Add to sausages, stuffing mixes and sauces. Create a simple marinade using rosemary, garlic and oil.

Rosemary’s antiseptic properties make for a fragrant household disinfectant. To make a disinfectant using rosemary, simmer leaves and small stems in water for a half hour. The less water used, the more concentrated the disinfectant will be. Strain and use for cleaning sinks and bathrooms. This mild cleanser leaves a pleasant scent in the rooms and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Decorative wreaths made out of rosemary branches can be made and hung in the kitchen. Not only are these wreaths beautiful and fragrant, they are handy as well. To make a kitchen wreath or hanging, simply weave branches of rosemary into the desired shape using wire to hold the pieces in place. Attach cloves of garlic and bunches of dried hot peppers to the wreath with the wire. Hang in the kitchen and pinch off pieces of the herbs, garlic or peppers as needed.

Wreaths of rosemary worn by ancient Greeks were used to improve memory and as a symbol of remembrance. It is also a symbol of fidelity for lovers and is often worn by brides.

Rosemary, the dew of the sea, makes a delightful addition to any home.

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