Rosemary is one the Western world’s most beloved herbs. These beautiful evergreens have filled our gardens with their invigorating scent for generations. But fresh scent and vivid, fir-like needles aren’t the only reasons to grow a rosemary plant in your garden. This is a plant of mystery and healing. In fact, this plant has a history that’s full of rich imagination and intense memories.
There are countless benefits to growing a rosemary plant, and we’re going to touch upon all of them. You might want to keep a pot of it on your kitchen counter for culinary seasoning. Or, if you’re spiritually inclined, you can keep it on hand solely for its long symbolism.
Whatever your motivations, you’ll be taking part in a long herbalist culture. After all, this herb has been beautifying, healing, and inspiring cultures around the world for centuries.
Rosemary brings a host of great benefits to your garden, in addition to the delicate beauty it adds to herb beds. It’s a hardy perennial that can easily tolerate winter temperatures dipping down into the 30s. Many rosemary growers, however, report that their plants are even tougher, withstanding occasional dips under 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s not just chilly winter nights that rosemary can handle either. Dry regions are ideal for the rosemary plant’s low-key water needs. In fact, rosemary actually prefers drier weather. As such, it’s a good idea to either cover your rosemary, or bring it in during periods of extensive rainfal.
Rosemary is an ideal herb for windy, low-water areas of the country, as well as coastal climates, and areas with rocky soil. In drought seasons, it’s one of the few plants that’ll thrive in the dry earth. If you’re growing your rosemary near the ocean, you’ll get to see just how much this Mediterranean shrub loves the salty sea air!
Most rosemary plants thrive on neglect. Unless you’re preparing for a bitterly cold winter or getting drenched by continual spring storms, your plant will be fine on its own. When you have a whole garden of needy celery and picky azaleas, it’s nice to have a few herbs that don’t need constant attention!
If Mosquito Season is a fact of life in your corner of the world, then rosemary is the plant for you. Mosquitoes, black flies, and other outdoor party-crashers are repelled by this fragrant herb. In addition, most garden-invading insects avoid rosemary because the leaves’ scent overwhelms their receptors. We may love rosemary’s spicy, earthy aroma, but insects don’t.
Even ticks are deterred by rosemary, which makes it an essential plant for northeastern gardeners to include. We like to put rosemary pots near the kids’ sandbox and swing set to help keep ticks at a bay. While a rosemary plant isn’t the ultimate in tick deterrence—check out rose geranium plants for that—it’s a great herb ally to have in your arsenal.
Rosemary can also be included in a protective hedge around your garden or patio. In addition to mint, lavender, marigolds, and basil, rosemary can build a stunning scent barrier. Mosquitoes, cockroaches, cabbage loopers, and slugs will all veer off to find less pungent gardens to plague. Planting rosemary around the patio or raised bed helps keep out unwanted insects naturally and effectively.
Bees and Butterflies Allowed
It’s important to note that rosemary’s anti-insect policy is limited to obnoxious invaders. Garden-friendly bugs like bees and butterflies see a different side of the rosemary plant.
Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love rosemary’s rich scent. Furthermore, this herb’s long flowering season is ideal when it comes to helping bees to fill their hives with honey.
All the pretty little bugs will be drawn to your garden with a healthy, blooming rosemary bush to gather around. How great is it that rosemary naturally appeals to beneficial insects, while driving away the destructive ones?
Most people who grow rosemary do so for its delicious flavor. Nothing beats a spring of rosemary in a cranberry Moscow mule or buttery. rosemary roasted chicken. Be sure to use it as a seasoning for roasted potatoes as well, especially with summer savory, tarragon, and thyme. There’s a reason why rosemary is used in classic Herbes de Provence mix: it’s delicious!
Cultivating a rosemary plant of your own gives you year-round access to this fantastic herb! Soon, you’ll find ways to tuck pretty sprigs of it into everything.
A Few Ideas:
Fresh rosemary offers many more culinary opportunities than dried. Make rosemary simple syrup by adding a four-inch sprig to 1 cup of boiling water. Stir in 1 cup of sugar and simmer until all the sugar has dissolved. Let it cool and then remove the evergreen sprig.
This simple syrup makes a delicious addition to gin and tonic. Alternatively, splash a bit into prosecco and add pomegranate seeds for a wintery cocktail!
Rosemary shortbread cookies are another exciting way to use your fresh herbs. These cookies are a classy, delicately flavorful addition to an evening. They pair well with black tea or creamy coffee.
Remember that fresh rosemary is intensely aromatic. Its softer texture and deeper flavor open up worlds of possibilities in the kitchen. Sautee it with summer squash and sage in a bit of butter, or smash it into creamy mashed potatoes. Bake rosemary-parmesan scones for Sunday brunch, or add it to tomato soup for a classy twist on an old favorite.
Even if you’re not trying to start a full medicinal herb garden, it’s nice to have a few all-purpose healers nearby. When it comes to consistently effective healing herbs, rosemary is one of the best.
Rosemary is a nutrient-rich healing herb. In fact, this plant is packed with vitamin B6, calcium, and iron. It’s ideal for gardeners new to herbalism, since it’s easy to use and generally considered safe. Just make sure to avoid it in medicinal doses during pregnancy.
Use rosemary to boost blood flow: it’s great if you have sluggish circulation or cold hands and feet. Rosemary’s circulation support is also great for muscle aches. It helps the body warm itself, and loosens overworked muscles and arthritic joints.
The scent of rosemary leaves is great for healing lung congestion as well. Like eucalyptus, rosemary relaxes the lungs and reminds them to open up and breathe. Drop some fresh sprigs of rosemary in a pot of water to simmer, and you’ll infuse the air with the herb’s breathe-easy aroma.
Studies have shown that rosemary may even be a helpful recovery tool after you’ve had a stroke. Furthermore, it may have the potential to reduce brain damage and speed healing.
Rosemary for Remembrance
Does rosemary help improve memory? Well, it certainly increases blood flow to the brain and decreases the effects of aging on your cognitive process. It also has an invigorating, awakening scent that helps you connect with other intense, sense-based memories. So yes, in a lot of ways rosemary does improve memory.
The most effective way to use rosemary to boost your memory is actually just by smelling it. While many people buy rosemary essential oil, having an evergreen rosemary bush in the yard (or in a pot on your desk) is a better, fresher, and more cost-effective option. So stop and smell the rosemary!
Bringing Mystery Back
Rosemary has been a part of our collective imagination for centuries. For most of that time, rosemary wasn’t just a healing herb or a tasty addition to potato cakes: it symbolized something important.
Along with roses, rosemary is one of the most commonly included plants in a traditional devotional Marian garden. These gardens are devoted to the Virgin Mary. Tradition has it that rosemary’s once-white flowers turned soft blue after Mary hung her cloak on the shrub as she and Joseph fled to Egypt with the Child Christ.
In Poland, rosemary plants were grown in front of homes when the daughter of the family hoped for marriage. She would tend the plant and wear a wreath of it at her wedding. In English tradition, however, it’s said that rosemary will only really thrive in a house that’s ruled by a woman. If the husband is in charge, rosemary will stay timid and small.
Practical Folk Traditions
Wrapped with lavender and mugwort, rosemary is a sleepy-time herb that helps keep nightmares away. You can also use it to help remember your dreams in the morning by tucking it under your pillow at night. Press a sprig of rosemary into a dream journal to aid in remembering and understanding those crazy dreams.
You can even build a dream garden by planting rosemary, mugwort, chamomile, and lavender in a sunny spot.
Like yarrow and garlic, rosemary is a protective plant as well. In most folklore, rosemary keeps witches away from the house and barn. Hang a little bundle of rosemary over the door, or plant a few shrubs beside the house to banish people with bad intentions.
Rosemary really is a gardener’s dream. Add this graceful shrub to your garden or patio and see why it has been so beloved for millennia.