By Andrew Padula, Contributing Columnist and owner of Greer-based Padula's Plants:
Rosemary is a timeless herb when it comes to the benefits it has offered, and continues to offer us all.
Also known as Dew of the Sea, rosemary is an important herb to have in the garden for both medicinal and culinary uses. Rosemary leaves make a great tea to help improve your memory, and adding some Rosemary to your meals on a regular basis can help your body fight off infection, fight cancer, slow down the aging of your brain, and can reduce the number of free radicals in your body.
Although rosemary is a shrub, it is related to other Mints such as Peppermint, and like Peppermint, Rosemary can be added to many different types of recipes and can also be used as a garnish.
Here in the Upstate, rosemary has certain landscape and garden aesthetics that make it a valuable and beautiful addition to your outdoor area. It is an evergreen here in our area and depending on the height of the plant, may provide year round privacy by a fence or window. Many times rosemary will flower twice here in the Upstate, once during late winter/early spring, and once again during late summer/early fall. Because rosemary does flower during late Winter/early Spring (when many other plants are just waking up), this makes rosemary's nectar an important and early source of food for many pollinators.
Rosemary loves a sunny location and prefers well drained soil that is not too heavy. Even though it is in the Mint family, planting rosemary in an area that is too damp or shady can actually kill it. Growing rosemary in ground that stays too wet during winter will cause the fastest decline in your rosemary plants health.
Rosemary also makes a great Bonsai specimen. Mainly because it is not a very fast grower when compared to many other mints, it also prefers well-drained soil and can withstand drier conditions. If you are interested in training a Rosemary Bonsai to take on a weeping form similar to a Weeping Willow, try using creeping Rosemary. Another added bonus for using rosemary as a Bonsai is that rosemary is a flowering evergreen herb.
Since rosemary can grow as both an upright shrub or in a creeping sub-shrub form, using it to help with erosion issues is a good idea. And since it is evergreen, rosemary will continue to grow and protect the erosion trouble spot throughout the entire year. On a hill, plant creeping rosemary close to the very top of the hill since it will creep down it. As the stems of the creeping rosemary creep down the hill, they will root and help to hold the soil in place. With the Upright Rosemary, it is better to plant it just a few inches below the top of the hill to avoid the roots being exposed until the plant has time to become established.
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