Rosemary is one of those must-have plants for the gardener or cook. It packs a four-fold punch in that it is ornamental, aromatic, edible and medicinal.
Its botanical name, Rosmarinus officianalis, means “dew of the sea.” As the herb of love and remembrance, rosemary is steeped in thousands of years of tradition, myth, healing, magic and folklore.
Rosemary hails from the Mediterranean and North African sea coast and is not hardy in our zone except for a couple of cultivars, i.e. Arp and Hardy Hill, that may overwinter in zone 5 with protection in a sheltered spot.
But that’s not to say we can’t grow it. It can be grown as an annual in your garden in a sunny spot in light, fertile, well-drained soil.
Better yet, why not grow it in a terracotta pot and bring it indoors for the winter? I’ve had my plant for three years now and it is doing well in an east facing bow window in my dining room.
Rosemary is one of those plants that tend to suffer more from too much attention than not enough — my kind of plant for sure!
It does well in a cool room with six to eight hours of sun, good air circulation and in a location away from any heating ducts.
Watch for powdery mildew, spider mites and aphids. A feeding with fish/kelp emulsion in early spring and re-potting once a year should keep it reasonably happy.
Richters, in Goodwood, Ont., lists more than 20 varieties of rosemary on their website. There are large, upright types, trailing ones and compact dwarf ones. Some have pink flowers, but most have varied shades of blue and all have that distinctive and delicious rosemary scent.
During the Christmas season you’ll often find rosemary topiaries for sale.
They make a great gift or why not treat yourself. I did!
Growing Green is prepared by Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society (www.gardenontario.org) and appears biweekly. This week’s column was written by Helen MacPherson, one of the society’s directors.