Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been used in the home since Roman times and old herbals tell of the many properties of the plant. It is the herb of remembrance and friendship and is supposed to stimulate the mind. An evergreen shrub it can be grown easily in any container herb garden given a sheltered position for although it comes from the Mediterranean it will tolerate some degree of frost.
It flowers early in the year at the end of winter. In the kitchen it is the traditional accompaniment for roast lamb and can be used to flavour a number of other dishes.
It is a slightly untidy plant, although some varieties are more compact than others but it will not regenerate from old wood so care must be taken when trimming it back.
Height and spread: 90-1.8 m (3-6 ft) by 90 cm (3 ft) depending on the variety grown. Rosemary can be grown from cuttings, seeds or layers. It has a spicy, piney, gingery taste and smell. It works well as an air freshener or as a moth repellant.
Flowers: Short tubular, two-lipped, pale to dark blue, some varieties have white or pink flowers. The flowers appear all down the branches. Time of flowering is winter to early spring.
Foliage: Dark green, hard, needle-like leaves with grey underneath. The leaves are very aromatic.
Soil: Well drained poor soil containing some lime.
Site: Sheltered and sunny.
Uses: Culinary, formerly medicinal, cosmetics. With food, rosemary suits a variety of dishes ranging from roast chicken or game, and also in jams, custards and biscuits. A leg of lamb with a rosemary and garlic stuffing is very delicious. Rosemary tea is very theraputic, especially for stomach complaints. Rosemary oil is used in perfumery and is a pleasent-smelling antiseptic.