“Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” figured into the song lyrics for the Simon and Garfunkel hit “Scarborough Fair.” These herbs deserve a place in your garden, too, whether you have a plot of earth or a container in a sunny spot outside.
Since Classical times, rosemary has been used to enhance memory. Ancient Greek students studied with sprigs of rosemary tucked into their hair. Shakespeare’s Othello mentions rosemary as a remedy for memory. Rosemary was used in funeral bouquets to ensure the dead not be forgotten.
Rosemary also symbolizes fidelity and has been used for centuries at weddings, in bouquets and as favors for guests.
Rosemary for your garden
Rosemary comes in both upright and trailing forms with pale pink or baby blue flowers. Resembling flat pine needles, rosemary’s foliage grows dark green with silvery undersides.
Like many herbs, rosemary prefers sun. An evergreen shrub found in the Mediterranean region and on California’s sunny coast, rosemary can take heat and dryness of Denver or other semi-arid regions. In fact, if you grow your rosemary in containers, allow the soil to dry out before watering. Just don’t let the plant get too dry, or leaves will wilt.
Most rosemary won’t weather Denver winters, but pot up your plant or haul inside your container. Place your container of rosemary in your sunniest window. Keep an eye out for powdery mildew, which can be prevented if rosemary has adequate ventilation and not too much water.
Rosemary for your kitchen
Rosemary, an easy-to-grow herb, is versatile. Use fresh rosemary in everything from lamb to lemonade, and even as a substitute for a barbeque brush. Some outdoor chefs spread woody sprigs of rosemary on the grill and place shrimp atop them so the herbal flavor infuses the seafood.
Aromatic rosemary’s pungent and piney scent translates to strong flavor. When cooking with rosemary, a little can go a long way. Season gradually with rosemary so you won’t overpower your dish.
To preserve fresh rosemary for culinary purposes, you can simply dry the herb. Or, for fresher flavor, add the chopped herb to ice cube trays, fill with water, freeze, then store the herbal ice to add to soups, stews, sauces, eggs, or other dishes.
Traditionally, rosemary accents lamb or chicken. Rosemary adds flair and flavor to potatoes and other vegetables, too. Add fresh, low-calorie, chopped rosemary to bread or butter. Recently, in Las Vegas, I enjoyed a refreshing glass of rosemary lemonade garnished with a long sprig of the herb stuck into the icy beverage: different, delicious, and also healthful.
Rosemary for your health
Included in a handful of herbs touted in “The World’s Healthiest Foods” by George Mateljan, rosemary provides fiber, iron, calcium, and phytonutrients. Mateljan champions rosemary as a concentrated source of detoxifying “free radical scavengers” as well as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories.
Rosemary, readily available now at garden centers, will remind you in many ways why this useful plant deserves a spot in your garden or container.
••• “Cultivate your corner of the world.
You grow your garden; your garden grows you.” •••
• Colleen Smith’s gift book “Laid-Back Skier” makes a sweet Easter gift! This whimsical, inspirational book includes lots of ski bunnies and encouragement for life’s ups and downs. Watch “Laid-Back Skier’s” brief YouTube video here.
• Colleen Smith’s first novel, “Glass Halo”—a finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize — is available in hardcover or e—book.
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