Rosemary - a small evergreen herb - shrub - which is indigenous from S. Europe to the Mediterranean area. Rosemary bushes can grow up to 4 or 5 feet tall. The wiry older branches are covered in thick leathery leaves with a dark green shine and a white underneath. There is a prominent midrib vein in the middle.
The pale blue, sometimes white flowers, grow in short clusters and appear between April and June. Rosemary seeds are very slow to germinate, so they need to be planted in a pot until well grown, a young plant is best planted in late summer, Rosemary loves hot sun and poor, slightly limed soil which is well drained.
Rosemary is generally hardy, bust some types fail is long cold and wet winters. Rosmarinus officinalis is the main group, but several cultivars within the group are wrongly named.
Miss Jessopp's Upright being the one that is frequently mis-named. The reason simply being that Rosemary Miss Jessopp's Upright is a good uniform upright growing cultivar, but not easy to distinguish from other Rosemary types when young. R. Jessopp's Upright is sought widely by the buyer, so plants are sometimes (accidentally) re-named by nurseries running out of stock. Sad, but it happens! As does R. Miss Jessup's Upright!
Rosemary is quite a versatile - and important herb - culinary, medicinally and aromatherapy. Who would want Lamb without Rosemary? A Rosemary rinse is good for hair health, and of course the essential oil from Rosemary is used in aromatherapy.
As well as its herbal qualities, it is an invaluable garden shrub. It can be used as a dwarf hedge, a member of the shrub border, rightfully placed in herb gardens, and not amiss in suitable containers. Its main requirement is sunshine and reasonably well-drained soil. It will rarely need feeding, and has little in the way of pruning requirements.
Rosemary - Rosmarinus - has three basic habits of growth - Upright; Bushy; Prostrate/spreading. All are suitable for most places in the garden, and particularly suited for growing in containers.
Rosemary prostratus will flower in most months of the year! Especially if grown in dry conditions. Sometimes known as Rosmarinus repens, or Rosmarinus lavendulaceus. It is not as hardy as the Rosmarinus officinalis group, and seems to do better in really dry places. I once grew one atop a stone wall and it lasted through many winters in Kent. The secret being that it was well drained in all weather. It rarely stopped flowering!
Rosmarinus officinalis types seem to be the hardiest. Outstanding amongst them being Rosmarinus officinalis Miss Jessopp's Upright - sometimes sold as Rosmarinus fastigiata. Certainly the growth is the most fastigiate of all the Rosemary shrubs, but this does not mean it is the best for a hedge - unless you are prepared for an informal hedge with the attractive upright growing spikes of flower. This makes for an interesting wavy effect!
Rosmarinus officinalis Aureus or Rosmarinus officinalis Aureovariegatus is considered attractive by some - especially writers who do not know it. It is only the fact that it has unique variegated leaves than makes it 'wanted'. The leaves are so thin for the variegation not to be noticed - thereby making it look a bit sick for my liking.
Dark Blue The three mentioned above are various shades of blue, but the deepest blue is for me has always been Rosmarinus Tuscan Blue - it also has dark green foliage..
Pink Flowered The best of the pinks - that also looks attractive - is Rosmarinus Miss Jessopp's Upright 'Roseus'. It has the added attraction of being quite upright in growth - as has its parent.
White Flowered Rosemary is best represented by Rosmarinus officinalis Alba - but who wants a white rosemary!
Arching Growth. A stunning Rosemary for banks and large containers is Rosmarinus Severn Sea(s). Its branches arch over well, but it is not a ground hugger like R. prostratus. Stunning in a large container with its brightest of blue flowers.
Rosemary has a strong pine scent
and can be used in many ways, place sprigs of rosemary on Lamb to
enhance the flavour, and for a real difference try rosemary with fish,
not only can it be used for savoury dishes try making Jams, jellies and
even in biscuits. Rosemary works well with Lemon, add to oil to make
wonderful condiments or marinades.
When using rosemary, finely chop when adding as an ingredient, use whole when using sprigs so that it can be removed.
A cup of rosemary tea is as effective in relieving a headache as an aspirin. It also said to be good for the memory. Use rosemary to strengthen and stimulate hair and it can be beneficial for premature balding when used as a cold tea rinse or essential oil.
Rosemary also has value as a
cardiovascular herb. It has been used to help circulation, to lower
blood pressure ant to decrease capillary permeability and fragility.
Rosemary also works in the stomach where it soothes spasms, flatulence and digestive upset. It is also active against yeast infections.