When we moved into Maple Hollow Cottage, I was so excited to already have wooden garden boxes installed in the backyard, but it looked as though the previous owner had long since ditched any gardening effort and the boxes were overgrown with weeds. One of those “weeds” sprang into something much more exciting – a rosemary bush! A HUGE one! See below picture for size…
As you can see, this rosemary plant is growing on the outside of the gardening box between the box and the stone wall. I’m not quite sure how it came to be there, but it has thrived. I actually didn’t even know what it was until a friend came over, took a whiff of it and said it was rosemary. You’d think you could smell it a mile away since there’s so much of it and rosemary is a famously pungent herb, but really you can’t smell it unless you’re intentionally bending over it to get a whiff! Since we’ve moved in, I’ve been waiting til we set a weekend aside to do yard work, pull up weeds and get seeds planted to start our garden to get what I thought was this monstrous weed out of the yard. I’m glad I realized what it was before I dug it up and hauled it out!
Last night, I got out and cut a bunch of it off to bundle up and take to my family lake house for the 4th of July weekend so I could share the wealth and have some fresh herbs to cook with while there. If you’ve eaten a meal at my house, you know I love cooking with rosemary. If you want the best pork of your life, get some boneless pork loins, put them in a skillet with a generous amount of butter, freshly chopped mushrooms, minced garlic cloves and a handful of rosemary sprigs and you’ve got a seriously simple but seriously delicious weeknight meal (+ sides). I also like to sprinkle rosemary on top of quiches. The long and short of it is: rosemary is by far my favorite herb so discovering this gargantuan plant has literally been the most exciting thing to me. This is clearly a sign that I’m a real adult. Getting giddy over a rosemary plant…I’d be ashamed if I wasn’t so dang happy about it.
But actually, rosemary has so much rich history and tradition that gets really drowned out and forgotten. I think it’s high time we all take a minute to appreciate the rich rosemary culture that has been lost since rosemary just became something that gets packaged in plastic and shelved next to pre-sliced apples and carrot sticks. Here are a few things you might not know about rosemary:
Large, healthy rosemary plants in a domestic garden indicate that the wife is the dominant one in the household. If the plant is small and scraggly, the husband is dominant. And uhh I’m just sayin’, but…my rosemary plant is HUGE 🙂
Rosemary has been used for centuries for protection. Hanging sprigs from doorways was said to ward off bad spirits.
In medieval times, rosemary was used to “smoke out the devil” in smudging practices.
Some people believe that planting rosemary by your garden gate will bring you good luck.
Allegedly, a rosemary plant will never grow past 6 feet tall in 33 years so as never to overtake Jesus’ height.
In line with #5, rosemary is actually steeped in religious culture. The “mary” in rosemary is after Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The latin name, Rosemarinus, means “dew of the sea” and it grows really well in coastal areas. But I live in Oklahoma and clearly it grows well here too.
There is a folklore tale, “The Legend of the Four Thieves” about grave robbers in the Dark Ages, during the time of the great plague, who would anoint themselves with rosemary oil before digging up graves. According to the tale, they never got sick or contracted any plague-like symptoms and accredited it to the rosemary oil.