Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rosemary at Christmastime

    In addition to the evergreen plants considered traditional at Christmastime - firs, holly, cedar, boxwood, mistletoe -- there's another plant that may not be as well known, accepted or recognized in modern days.
    The beautiful rosemary topiary has been showing up in garden shops the past few weeks. Who wouldn't be pleased to receive one of these as a gift?

    The beautiful rosemary plant - classed as a perenial herb - gets its name not from roses or a from a woman named Mary, but from the Latin rosmarinus, which translates to "dew of the sea." Although the rosemary herb is a member of the mint family, it's an evergreen plant that looks and smells very much like pine.

    It is a shrubby plant that can grow to be as tall as five feet, if you let it. The stems are covered with slender, inch-long, pine-like leaves. Rosemary flowers aren't very showy, and are usually white, lavender, or blue.

    Rosemary was used during the Middle Ages by housewives to spread on the floor at Christmas. As people walked on it, a pleasant aroma arose. Tradition/folklore has it that the shrub is fragrant because Mary laid the garments of the Christ Child on its branches. The night he was born, legend has it, the trees suddenly bore fruit and flowers blossomed out of season.

    As I strolled through the garden today I took a close look at my sprawling plants, or which there are many. Rosemary happens to be my favorite herb to grow and cook with, so I have quite a few.

    Many of my plants need trimming and fertilizer, as they are growing out of shape and aren't as vibrantly green as they could be:

    Dead limbs need to be removed to reinvigorate the plant:

    During my walk I broke off some dead twigs and they looked interesting to me, so I haphazardly tied red and green ribbon around them and thought they looked very pretty. In past years I have gathered the twigs during winter to throw into the fireplace for the pleasant aroma they produce.

    An interesting side note about twigs in general: In 2005 when Claus and I visited his relatives in Germany, his uncle had gathered numerous bundles of small sticks and twigs from his property, bundled and tied them and set them aside for pickup. I thought they looked absolutely charming, and when I asked about them, he said this was done for a practical reason -- that the debris pickup trucks would only take them if they were tied into bundles. So it was a recycling thing instead of an artistic endeavor as I had imagined!

    Rosemary trivia:

    Humans have long believed that rosemary can improve memory, which is why it was so often used in weddings and funerals.

    A bride might wear a wreath made from the rosemary plant to help the couple remember their wedding vows.

    Mourners would throw sprigs of rosemary into graves, a symbol that the dead would not be forgotten.

    The Chinese believed that rosemary could cure certain ailments. They used rosemary to ward off headaches and even cure baldness.

    The Greeks believed that rosemary could aid the liver and improve digestion.

    Whether or not you believe in the power of rosemary, it sure tastes good in certain recipes, is a great garden plant and is beautiful at Christmas.

    Are rosemary plants offered for sale as a Christmas evergreen where you live?


  1. Sanda, the Rosemary legend about the Christ child is charming, thank you for sharing it. Rosemary is my favourite herb too, and doesn't it look good as a topiary? And, shamelessly copying, I am going right out to put a red bow on my rosemary bush, just for the Season :)

    1. Love those topiaries. I used to have several that I shaped and grew myself but have gradually lost them thru neglect. You go, girl; get that red bow on the rosemary bush and enjoy!

  2. You have a lot of land Sanda...that is so nice! We are lucky in that our Trader Joe's Stores sell rosemary christmas bushes, topiaries. I too like rosemary and am amazed how little one has to use in cooking. I like your woodsy garland. : )

    1. We have five acres, some of it given over the pasture land and woods. The "yard/garden" proper is a manageable size. But I find that a large garden can be a "curse" because one tries to do too much.

      Thanks! Glad you like my little woodsy twig bouquet!!

  3. I saw those Trader Joe's rosemary topiaries yesterday but I was already on the way out of the store with my hands full. I may go back this weekend and pick one up. We have some rosemary growing in the garden but another plant would not hurt. Meanwhile I could enjoy the topiary indoors for the holidays.

    Thanks for the nudge.


    1. I wish we had a Trader Joe's. I've heard so many great things about that store. I've noticed that the prices are higher this year on the rosemary plants at the garden centers, just like everything else! I haven't bought yet; hoping they'll get a markdown closer to the 25th (usually happens)

  4. Thanks for reminding us how to use what we already have in the yard. I have a small rosemary bush just off the back porch so I may give it a big red ribbon for Christmas and bring some sprigs in the house. Love your ideas and pix. Thx!

    1. I love making little arrangements with the sprigs in water, with the added benefit of the springs sometimes taking roots and you can plant them out and have more plants! Rosemary makes a great filler for the sachet bags I featured on the blog several days ago.

  5. Such nice reading. Rosemary is also my favorite and I have several really nice bushes too. I love the smell of it and bring in new sprigs, strip needles off and put in a container on the stove. It dries fast there and smells so good when the stove is on. When it gets really cold in Jan/Feb, I drag out the old sheets and here we go outside covering all the bushes just to make sure they survive - whether that helps or not, don't know but they have survived for a lot of years now.

    1. You have beautiful rosemary plants and are wise to keep them in pots. But I get so tired of watering them in summer that I just pop them into the ground.

  6. Your pictures show no snow! I´ll send you truck of it via express.
    For me, all your plants look very green.
    I´m not sure if there are rosemary plants ( in pots either ) over here, but the one you have with the red ribbon looks Christmas-y!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...