Newest Review: ... and in about two months they should have their own root system and can be replanted. USING ROSEMARY Rosemary dries out very easily ... more
Member Name: worst_trip
Advantages: Easy to grow, fantastic-smelling garden herb
Disadvantages: May grow so well it needs occasional pruning back...
Rosemary is a small shrub / woody stemmed plant from the Mediterranean that's often grown in people's gardens as a culinary herb. It has distinctive spiky leaves - looking a bit like broad, Christmas tree needles - arranged in little bunches growing directly off the upstanding stems. Though there are trailing varieties of rosemary that'll grow horizontally along the ground, the 'classic' or natural shape is a spiky bush with upright growth habit standing sometimes as much as five feet tall. The leaves are dark green with a sort of low-key gloss to them on top, and whitish, with a very slight nap below. The essential oils that give rosemary its wonderful aromatic smell seem to be present in limited quantities even on the leaf surfaces, and once you've handled the plant with your bare hands you can quite often notice it's left a bit of slightly tacky (but very nicely scented) residue on them.
Being a native of the Mediterranean rosemary plants do best in sunny, open locations in soil that won't get too waterlogged. In the right kind of setting, they can cope with even the cold of a Scottish winter: my mother who live in central Scotland has a huge rosemary plant (grown from a tiny cutting pinched from the local further education college in the 1980s) that has survived heavy snows and weeks of frost in her south-facing back garden, whereas where I live in generally quite mild if rainy Gloucestershire, the rosemary plant I had in my sheltered flower bed perished after being shaded out by a high-growing yew hedge. I now have a flourishing rosemary in a more open / airy part of the garden, where it's doing much better. To propagate, rosemary is simplicity itself. You just peel / break off a side shoot maybe four inches long making sure there's a woody 'heel' left on the cutting at the end that was joined to the main stem, and use rooting hormone powder (or not) to pot it up in some compost.
Rosemary tea (made from fresh leaf sprigs steeped in boiling water) can be drunk as a herbal tea if you like that kind of thing, and can also - amongst probably, many other things - be used as a herbal hair-rinse once it's cooled down. It's reputed to be beneficial especially for brunettes (although I can't say I ever noticed much in the way of effects it had on my hair when I used to do that). The main use I have personally for rosemary is in cooking; the leaves give a great flavour to potato cubes roasted in olive oil (in a dish we call 'rosemary potatoes' for obvious reasons; put some chopped garlic in too for about the last 15 minutes) and are a good seasoning for chicken, and especially lamb. The leaves shouldn't be really eaten in the finished dish as they seem to have too much oily aromatics in them to allow them to taste nice - and if you cook them for long enough to 'dry out' the essential oils, they go very unpleasantly hard and spiny - not at all good to eat. When I didn't have a garden and wanted to use this herb in cooking, I used to occasionally steal sprigs of rosemary from municipal plantings (it frequently turns up in parks as well as flower beds as a decorative plant) - as it's unmistakeable from the scent, once you're familiar with it. It dries quite well - and of course you can buy it in little pots as a dried herb - but you can find it 'free' so frequently - and it's dead easy to propagate, so why bother paying for it....
This is the one garden herb I would never want to be without.
Summary: Easy to grow, fantastic-smelling garden herb
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