Rosemary is well renowned as the herb for remembrance, sprigs adorn many lapels on ANZAC day for that very reason and it is fitting to consider this herb for a place of prominence in the garden.
According to biblical stories, the Virgin Mary was said to have laid her blue cloak over a rosemary shrub, turning the white flowers blue, resulting in the name "Rose of Mary" however the generic name Rosmarinus, was derived from the Latin phrase ros marinus, meaning dew of the sea, a reference to the fact rosemary thrives in harsh conditions on sandy coastal soils of the Mediterranean Sea cliffs.
Rosemary is also symbolic of friendship and love, but there is more to it than myth.
The ancient Greeks and Romans were aware of the benefits of rosemary, not just as a culinary herb but for its medicinal advantages.
Its oil has been inhaled for centuries to improve memory and sharpen focus. There is now scientific evidence that supports an improvement in cognitive performance from being exposed to its aroma.
Rosemary is also an excellent anti-inflammatory that can be used as a topical oil. It can be easily grown in most gardens and tends to thrive on neglect.
This hardy water-wise plant is well-suited to coastal plantings and gravelly soils and requires little maintenance other than some regular pruning. Full sun positions with good drainage are ideal and the addition of a little dolomite to the soil to raise soil pH will help rosemary flourish.
Growing to around 1.5 metres tall, rosemary is ideal in the herb garden or grown in a container and can be trained as topiary. It also makes an ideal hedging plant responding well to regular pruning.
Flower colours can vary from white, pink, mauve and blue, however, it is the blue flowering forms that tend to be the most popular.
Prostrate forms are also available and make excellent groundcovers, trailing over rocks or retaining walls and spilling from containers. Their dense carpet of foliage is virtually impenetrable to weeds and provides the same smell and floral beauty.
Rosemary's aromatic needle-like leaves can be used fresh or dried and the stems of varieties such as "Tuscan blue" or "goriza" make fantastic skewers for lamb pieces on the barbecue.
Most important though is the role rosemary plays on ANZAC day, lest we forget.
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