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Rosmarinus - Care Guide
The generic name is taken from the Latin word for rosemary which is ros or ros maris. Ros in Latin can also mean ‘dew’ and hence the belief that Rosmarinus means ‘sea dew’.
R. officinalis or common rosemary is a dense evergreen shrub growing eventually up to 5-6ft with a similar spread. It is a Mediterranean plant which has been cultivated in the UK for at least 400 years. The stems are covered in green or greyish-green leaves which are white underneath and the flowers are purple-blue to white and are produced from the upper leaf axils from April to June and, usually, again in the autumn.
Rosemary thrive in all types of well-drained soil in full sun. R. officinalis can be grown as a hedge, as a freestanding shrub or in a mixed border, in a herb garden or against a warm sunny wall. Pruning of the bush should take place immediately after flowering to remove not just the old flower heads but also the tips of the new growth to shape the bush and encourage further uniform new growth and flowers later in the year. This is particularly important when Rosemary are grown as a hedge.
The leaves of rosemary are traditionally dried and used as a culinary herb to bring out the flavours in many meat dishes.
Propagation is simple from semi ripe cuttings set in summer but R. officinalis will also root as a hardwood cutting in the autumn.
There are many named varieties of R. officinalis which have different flowers, foliage and habits:
f. albiflorus has white flowers and an upright mounded habit
‘Aureus’ has irregular and occasional yellow marked leaves
‘Majorca Pink’ has arching stems and bright pink flowers
“Miss Jessopp’s Upright” is a tall growing form with a pyramidical habit
‘Prostratus’ has a trailing or prostrate habit with light blue flowers. It is ideal for growing over a wall or a bank where it can produce a hanging carpet of flowers.
‘Roman Beauty’ has a dense compact habit with arching stems and dark blue flowers
‘Roseus’ has pink flowers
‘Severn Sea’ has a dwarf habit and brilliant blue flowers
‘Tuscan Blue’ is a small shrub with broader leaves and deep blue flowers. It often flowers in winter.