As I shared in my last gardening article Florida has taught me a whole new way of gardening. It is hard to say what my favorite herb is, but if I had to make a list rosemary would definitely be near the top. Rosemary is an herb that grows well in poor soil that likes good drainage. These are conditions that I don’t have in my yard therefore I do a lot of container gardening. Over the last three years Florida has had above average rainfall not ideal for rosemary. It is also fairly tolerant of cold weather being hardy to 20°, which made this a great herb to grow in Northern Nevada.
I found some interesting folklore and legend about rosemary. According to legend rosemary got its name from Mother Mary as she rested during her escape to Egypt she was sheltered by a rosemary bush. While resting she threw her blue cape on the bush to dry and the white flowers turned blue so the plant became known as “the rose of Mary”. Part of Greek folklore includes that a sprig of rosemary placed under a pillow will ward of evil spirits and bad dreams. It is also said that dried rosemary laid in bed will ensure faithfulness.
Since discovering that my older son was allergic to several antibiotics I began studying natural ways to keep us healthy and time and again rosemary was an herb I continued to come across. Rosemary is known to have stimulant, astringent, and diaphoretic properties. It has calcium, diterpenes (plant compounds), antioxidants (vitamin E and flavonoids) as well as caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid. All of these combine to make rosemary mildly antibiotic and antiviral. Research has been done to find many more potential benefits of including rosemary in your diet. (The Way of Herbs, and The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth)
Being in the middle of allergy season my home often smells of rosemary, because of its strong aroma it is great for clearing the sinuses. Whenever a cold is coming on we add a few drops of essential oil to our bath which helps relieve congestion and cough. Due to the stimulant properties you can lift your afternoon “fog” by spraying some in the air near your desk or better yet spray it in your hair, it might stimulate hair growth. Always consult a physician or natural health practitioner before using herbs medicinally.
Rosemary can be added to many of your favorite sauces and soups, because of its distinctive flavor it is general used to enhance meat dishes. With summer quickly approaching you might want to try this chicken salad with rosemary for your next picnic.
Chicken Salad with Rosemary
3 celery ribs, 3 cups, cubed, cooked chicken, ½ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup sour cream, and 1 tbsp, finely chopped, fresh rosemary
Thinly slice the celery and combine it in a bowl with the chicken. Blend together the mayonnaise, sour cream and rosemary then pour over the chicken and celery stirring until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Every day I am learning more about the joys of gardening and the benefits of using the things that I can grow to keep my family and I healthy and well fed. I would love to hear about your favorite herb, what do you enjoy most?