Researching rosemary took me on a journey through the origins of Aphrodite, said to have arisen from the sea wearing just a wreath of the herbs, to the original Love Potion No. 9, when in the Middle Ages it was considered a love charm, which brides wore in their hair while the groom and guests donned a sprig.
I bought all that info with only a few fact-checking jumps around the interwebs, especially as it was posted by Newcastle University. I didn’t bat an eye when I read that planting a bit outside your home warded off witches, a belief held in the 16th century. Sure. And I’m down with those 18th century dudes who used rosemary oil to promote hair growth — male pattern balding doesn’t bother me, but it’s your scalp, guys. I’m all about holistic, non-toxic beauty regimens and am personally tempted to see if it might still “beautify my teeth.” Then the University’s site notes that during the 17th century, “rosemary was used medicinally to cure jaundice and to restore speech to a mute.”
(Record screeches to a stop.)
I’m sorry. What? Just like that, an herb you can grow in your garden so you might ward off witches while you sit safely inside brushing your lush, long hair whilst you smile your gorgeous grin can also RESTORE SPEECH TO A MUTE? HOW did it restore speech to a mute? No reference for that fun fact? I posted that question on the site, and will attempt to find the story
behind it. I’m on it.
As I read Wikipedia’s note that when burned, rosemary smells akin to a wood fire, my sensememory sparked the woodsy smell, my mouth watered, and I suddenly craved meat. Do you use rosemary in your stuffing or to season lamb or pork?
Known for strengthening memory, adding flavor to your food and luster to your locks, and apparently giving speech to the speechless, why not grow a little in your garden? Rosmarinus officinalis is perennial, and though native to the Mediterranean regions, it is hardy and can grow almost anywhere, though it prefers the sun. The seedlings grow very slowly, so for instant gratification, it’s best to buy plants. And since the ideal time to plant rosemary is in April, check with your local nursery to learn when to plant in your region.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests getting a head start and planting the seeds or cuttings indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. If you’re a city dweller in a small space, keep it in a container but give it lots of sunlight. And if you transplant it outdoors, be sure to give the plant plenty of room to grow, some reach four feet in height and spread the same distance. And if you need a planter, check out The City Farm’s gorgeous way to grow your herb garden here.
There are so many ways to enjoy your new addition to your herb garden! I’m thinking of starting a new slogan: “Rosemary, it’s not just for warding off your neighborhood witch.” Dry some and throw it on the BBQ the next time you’re grilling, or snag this recipe from Convet Garden and make some brown butter & rosemary popcorn to serve your guests a savory snack the next time you host movie night. Since rosemary keeps on growing and thus giving, try making an essential oil to add to your lotions, shampoo, or in your baked breads. Over at A Healthy Life for Me, Amy Stafford gives her tips for making oil with your own rosemary: all you need is a mason jar, oil, and clippings from your garden.