Such a pretty name for this herb (botanically Rosmarinus officinalis) which has had a resurgence in popularity in modern cooking. It is no longer reserved for roast lamb but is widely used to give that southern European flavour, especially when sprinkled over roasting potatoes. There is no reason at all to use the dried, often stale product from the supermarket when every good home can have a rosemary bush to provide year round fresh flavour.
The key to growing rosemary successfully is to remember that it is a Mediterranean herb which means it is used to poor, dry soils and hot sun. So don’t be too kind to it. I recently killed an established prostrate rosemary in a large pot by giving it a topdressing of compost. If I had just left it alone, it should have been fine. Waterlogged soils will kill it even faster.
Rosemary is easy enough to root from cutting (choose new growth which has hardened so it is not floppy) or you can buy a plant. If you get a shrub, it will get some size to it and may even reach close to 2 metres over time if you don’t clip it. You should also have a choice of prostrate or dwarf forms which are more suitable for containers. If you don’t give the plant a haircut from time to time, it will get woody and gnarly rather than staying bushy. You can prune your bush right now. Most rosemary have blue flowers in summer which bees find irresistible.
If you have a dog, make sure you site your plant away from corners and edges where the dog is likely to mark its territory by peeing on your herb. I speak from experience here….
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.