“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance…” Was Shakespeare’s Hamlet onto something? The answer is yes if you believe a study released by Dr Jemma McCready and Dr Mark Moss from the University of Northumbria, England, in 2013. And the National Institute of Health released a highly technical abstract in 2016 that lends some credence to the theory, but stops short of supporting the idea that Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) will help those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. For every study released that endorses herbs or specific plants for disease treatment, there seems to be a counter study that says otherwise. I’m taking no chances. I plan to breathe in the scent of my potted rosemary every chance I have. Couldn’t hurt, right?
The rosemary pictured below is in a pottery container that is a creation of my sister, Linda, the artist in our family. My plant will remain indoors, but the herb is perennial outdoors in Zone 7-10. It will grow to the size of a shrub and have pale blue blooms that bees love. When sunshine falls on the foliage, it releases a delicious fragrance. Some describe the scent as pine-like, but it really has a distinctive resinous odor all its own. I love the flavor of rosemary leaves in tomato-based sauces or sprinkled on toasted ciabatta. Older leaves tend to be a little prickly, so use the young, tender growth in cooking.
Even though the bees love it, deer and insects leave rosemary alone. Anecdotal evidence says that planting it under roses will help keep aphids away. It likes heat, full sun and limited but regular water. It’s not an easy plant to start from seed, so either buy them at the nursery or start them from cuttings. Both upright and trailing forms are available.
I find that rosemary will be attractive for a few years before it gets woody and the center of the plant opens up. You can delay the demise by frequent, light pruning, but when it becomes ugly, just replace the plant. You can strip the leaves from the reject plant and include them in sachet bags in your closet.