One of the first herbs I put into my garden was rosemary. It’s a fantastic plant for a coastal garden, coping well with wind and salt. A Mediterranean herb, it needs to be in a sunny, well drained position.
Mine was planted into a new brick built raised bed, and I made sure I put plenty of drainage underneath it. It’s grown from a cheap small plant into a huge mass, at least four feet wide and high, despite radical pruning at times. It’s reasonably easy to take cuttings from it. Cut a few non flowering soft wood sprigs, and plant three round the edge of a pot, cover with a plastic bag and keep somewhere warm and sheltered. Once the cuttings take root, they can be potted up individually.
Older rosemary bushes can get very large and woody, and can be pruned back quite hard. If they become too unmanageable it may be worth replacing with a younger plant, every few years (another reason to take cuttings!)
The herb has been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties, and considered sacred by the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Rosemary is traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth. The smell of rosemary essential oil has been proved in tests to improve concentration and memory.
The bees absolutely love the flowers, which start early in the year. Last year our bush was buzzing with bees, and we had bumble bees nesting nearby under the patio. I’ve also spotted the starlings rubbing themselves with the leaves, which may deter mites and other pests.
It’s fantastic on roast potatoes, even better with a few cloves of garlic too!
Roast Rosemary potatoes
Cut potatoes into thick slices (or parboil and leave in bigger chunks).
Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in baking tray (I like rapeseed oil best)
Add the sliced potatoes, generous springs of rosemary and unpeeled garlic cloves to the hot pan, and roast in a medium to hot oven, until cooked through.
You can also grind up some rosemary leaves, with seasalt in a pestle and mortar, to make a fantastic rosemary flavoured salt, that can be added to all sorts of dishes.
And finally if you’ve had a long day in the garden, a soak in a rosemary scented bath, can help melt away those aches and pains! What’s not to like!
If you’d like to know more about growing herbs, why not visit one of the community gardens, (for example Seaford community Garden or Newhaven, Growing together garden) where the volunteers will be glad to talk to you about the herbs being grown.