The rosemary plant is a half-hardy perennial evergreen shrub that reaches a height of 2' — 4'. The leaves are needle-like, leathery, and dark green with a gray undersurface. The flowers, appearing in spring, are most commonly pale lavender blue, although deep blue, pink, and white flowered varieties have been selected. The whole plant is very fragrant with its own special and characteristic balsamic smell.
Start with plants purchased from a garden center. Rosemary can also be propagated by cuttings that are 4" — 6" long. It can be started from seed but germination is very slow and the plants are slow to develop. Rosemary grows best in a well-drained, sunny area. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize very little. In warm climates, Zone 7 and higher, rosemary over winters out-of-doors; in areas where winters are severe, the plants should be taken indoors during the winter. Keep the soil moist. The plants can be set out in the garden the following spring. To dry rosemary, hang long stems in a warm location. Handle carefully, as the leaves tend to fall off.
Although this herb can be grown in the garden, it makes a good container-grown plant. It is commonly grown as a topiary. A well-drained soil is essential to avoid root rots. This herb is prized for its aromatic foliage that is used in cooking. A fresh sprig of it can add a subtle, rich flavor to chicken, beef, pork, lamb, sauces, stuffing's, soups, and bread. The Italians especially favor it in pasta sauces, tomato dishes, and veal recipes. It can be dried, but fresh sprigs are preferable.
In ancient Greece, Rosemary was recognized for its alleged ability to strengthen the brain and memory. Greek students would braid Rosemary into their hair to help them with their exams. Also known as the herb of remembrance, it was placed on the graves of English heroes.
Rosemary is a highly aromatic herb with hints of pine and lemon. Use sparingly because too much rosemary can make a dish taste resinous.