In Bloom: December

Rosemary | Salvia rosmarinus 

This fragrant evergreen herb is the most versatile plant; not only delicious with roast potatoes but great in cocktails, wedding bouquets and skincare.

Rosemary is a member of the mint family, along with other herbs such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender. Native to the Mediterranean, this plant grows exceptionally well almost anywhere. Its hardy, woody branches make this plant the ideal hedge or kitchen garden border. It provides year-round foliage and delicate purple, blue, white or pink flowers in summer.

Salvia rosmarinus derives from the Latin words ros and marinus which together translate to “dew of the sea” or “mist of the sea” as its grey-green foliage is thought to resemble mist against the sea cliffs of the Mediterranean. 

Rosemary has been used since the time of the early Greeks and Romans. Greek scholars often wore a garland of the herb on their heads to help their memory during examinations. From the ninth century, Rosemary commonly appears in royal gardens, and was used as Eau de Cologne. Rosemary was also the subject of many poems and was mentioned in five of Shakespeare’s plays. 

There’s rosemary and rue. These keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long.
Grace and remembrance be to you.
- William Shakespeare (The Winter’s Tale, Act 4, Scene 4)

The herb has been hailed for its medicinal properties since ancient times. Its essential oil has a woody fragrance and is considered a mainstay in aromatherapy, not just for its pleasant smell but also because it is able to calm the body whilst energising the mind. It was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth. 

Rosemary's scent is believed to strengthen the memory, and so it became a symbol of remembrance. Brides often wear rosemary at their weddings as it is also a symbol of happiness and love, and seen as a good omen for union and future family. 

Not only does Rosemary make the house smell delightful and look homely, it is non-toxic to pets. In fact, much like for humans, Rosemary has some health benefits for pets and can be consumed when dried, fresh or in tea. It is a powerful antioxidant that can help eliminate free radicals and age-related health issues, as well as helping to aid digestion and prevent gas, something which is quite common in dogs. As with everything, moderation is key and please make sure to consult with your veterinarian before introducing this herb into your pet's diet. 

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