Rosemary part 2
Last month I wrote about the genus Rosmarinus and some of the related plants. As I said it is a tough but attractive plant with a number of cultivars that can be divided into three forms. There hasn’t been any concentrated breeding of the genus which is a shame as there are some nice cultivars that could be used to breed from. It is also not a prolific seeder so there aren’t a lot of natural variants to select from.
Even still there are still some great forms The following list covers most of these – each is described at the end of the article. There are several forms of true ground cover Rosemaries. The best come from California; Huntingdon Carpet, Santa Barbara and Irene PBR. The are about 10 forms of shrubby plants of which the best are Blue Lagoon, Collingwood Ingram, Dancing Waters, Fota Blue, Lockwood de Forest, Roman Beauty, Severn Seas and Shimmering Stars. There are several strong upright forms of which, Gorza, Herb Cottage, Salem and Tuscan Blue are the preferred ones. Then there are the pink and white forms, Pink Remembrance, Rosea, Portugese Pink, Majorca Pink, Sissinghurst White and Wendy’s White. There aren’t any true variegated forms but there are a couple of nice golden forms Golden Rain and Genge’s Gold.
Rosemary is a versatile landscape plant. Each of the three forms has it’s own range of garden spots. The upright forms are often used for both formal and informal hedges including as mazes. The make a nice dense hedge to 2m tall and 40 to 90cm wide. They can be used as standards or for general topiary work. The spreading forms are good as mass plantings in large formal and cottage gardens or as border plants to a larger flower bed. They can also be shaped into low growing hedges. The groundcover forms make excellent weed suppressants, low traffic lawns and on terrace and banks. Their growth habit is ideal for the latter due to the way they will grow downwards for up to 2 m. They work well as hanging baskets near the kitchen where it is easy to go and pick a sprig or two for the evening roast.
Wherever they are used, rosemary plants respond best to full sun, well drained soil with regular summer watering and an prune and feed. However they will grow in very dry conditions and will tolerate some shade if the soil is very open.
Use in the kitchen is limited by the chef’s imagination. We all have rosemary with our roast lamb and potatoes. It is also nice in a heavy casserole where the rosemary flavour can soak into the meat. It is a strong herb so care should be taken when using with fish or chicken. The upright forms make good BBQ skewers. Simply take a long thick stem, remove the leaves, sharpen one end and put on the meat and vegetables (try a fruit one for a different flavour).
Rosemary has many health benefits such as digestion, memory and overall relaxation. It is especially good for the mind and nervous system where it helps to clear the thoughts and enable greater concentration. The ancient Greeks used it for an aid to memory and now we are as well.
Rosemary oil is an essential oil that is popular in aromatherapy for its relaxing properties. The oil is produced by steam distillation of the leaves and is best done soon after flowering. Mix with lavender oil and place in a diffuser for a relaxing aroma.
So next time you look at rosemary just think of all the great ways it can be used in the home. Also try smelling a few different cultivars to see the differences in flavour.
Irene Deep blue flowers, groundcover habit, green foliage30cm tall, 2m wide
Huntingdon Carpet Sky blue flowers, groundcover habit, green foliage25cm tal, 2m wide
Santa Barbara Blue flowers, groundcover habit, green foliage30cm tall, 2m wide
Blue Lagoon Sky blue flowers, spreading habit, grey/green foliage75cm tall, 1.2m wide
Collingwood Ingram Rich blue flowers, spreading habit, green foliage90cm tall, 1.0m wide
Dancing Waters Blue flowers, spreading habit, green foliage80cm tall, 1.0m wide
Fota Blue Bright blue flowers, semi prostrate habit, green foliage45cm tall, 95cm wide
Lockwood de Forest Light blue flowers, semi prostrate habit, green foliage50cm tall, 2.0m wide
Roman Beauty Mauve blue flowers, mounding habit, grey/green foliage40cm tall, 1.0m wide
Severn Seas Grey blue flowers, rounded habit, green foliage1.0m tall, 1.0m wide
Shimmering Stars Pink – light blue flowers, mounding habit, green foliage80cm tall, 1.0m wide
Gorza Soft blue flowers, upright habit, grey/green foliage1.2m tall, 1.0m wide
Herb Cottage Pale blue flowers, upright habit, green foliage1.2m tall, 1.0m wide
Salem Deep blue flowers, upright habit, green foliage1.0m tall, 90cm wide
Tuscan Blue Deep blue flowers, upright habit, deep green foliage1.8m tall, 1.0m wide
Pink Remembrance Pink flowers, upright habit, green foliage1.2m tall, 90cm wide
Rosea Pink flowers, upright habit, grey/green foliage1.5m tall, 1.0m wide
Portugese Pink Pink flowers, upright habit, green foliage1.2m tall, 1.0m wide
Majorca Pink Pink flowers, rounded habit, green foliage1.2m tall, 1.2m wide
Sissinghurst White White flowers, rounded shrub, green foliage1.1m tall, 1.1m wide
Wendy’s White White flowers, upright habit, green foliage1.2m tall, 1.0m wide
Golden Rain Sky blue flowers, spreading habit, gold and green foliage75cm tall, 1.2m wide
Genge’s Gold Deep blue flowers, upright habit, gold and green foliage1.2m tall, 1.0m wide