By William Mills
A woody herb steeped in ancient legend, rosemary is easy to grow and has loads of uses around the home from bath time delights to culinary masterpieces.
Rosemary, its leaves needle shaped, is native to the Mediterranean and produces a profusion of small blue and white flowers.
Called by its Latin name, ‘the dew of the sea’ it can go long periods without water surviving on the humidity carried by the sea breeze.
It also grows well in cooler climates, either in indoor pots or planted outside, and can be snipped into different shapes.
In medieval times it was used as a love charm-a symbol of love and loyalty, and placing it under one’s pillow was believed to prevent nightmares and repel witches.
Today it’s used in Remembrance Day wreaths and wedding bouquets.
Rosemary, part of the wider mint family of herbs, is used medicinally by aromatherapists as an aid to digestion.
A small bottle of the essential oil is available from larger chemists and health food shops. A few drops can be sprinkled on a hanky or into a bath.
The vapour acts as a decongestant and can lift one’s spirits.
Aromatherapists recommend blending it with lavender and tea tree oils to help cure colds by combining their antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
Rosemary oil is added to soaps and shampoos because it’s astringent and helps combat oily skin leaving ones hair smelling wonderfully fresh.
Recent medical research claims rosemary can also improve memory. However a word of caution, essential oils are extremely strong in their undiluted form and should be used sparingly.
So always read the label and ask in the shop at time of buying if you are in anyway uncertain.
It also widely used in cooking. Although available dried in a packet, herbs are generally best fresh straight from a plant, which in the case of rosemary, being an evergreen, grows all the year around.
A sprig, placed on grills and barbeques, can add to the flavour of meats with its pungent aroma. Roast potatoes are enhanced by blending salt, chopped rosemary leaves, garlic and olive oil.
Rosemary also brings out the full flavour in lamb when added to the cooking process.
Chefs use rosemary during the winter months to flavour his rabbit stew. During the summer he infuses it into oils as a dressing for salads.