Red Kite flying above our garden yesterday.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is a bushy decorative evergreen herb. Its Latin name Rosmarinus officinalis means dew-of-the-sea, probably because rosemary usually grows well by the seashore. It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia but is hardy in temperate climates. It will withstand periods of drought and does not like living in soggy ground.
In late spring it produces small orchid-like pretty lilac-blue flowers. Although it can reach six feet, it usually attains about three feet (0.9m)
It is a perennial requiring very little in the way of pruning and will live for twenty or more years. It is easily propagated from cuttings taken after flowering.
The narrow leaves, which resemble pine needles, can be used in a variety of dishes, working particularly well with roasted meats. Finely chopped, the leaves can be used to make rosemary butter, or to accompany garlic when roasting potatoes. The flowers can be used in salads or crystallised to make an attractive decoration to cakes.
In addition to its culinary function a handful or rosemary boiled in 16 ounces of water can be used to provide an antiseptic solution for cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces. When burned on an open fire or barbecue rosemary stems give a lovely scent to the air. A branch of rosemary freshens the air in the house and can be used as the basis for Christmas wreaths or other garlands.
Medicinally it is said to stimulate circulation and ease aching joints when applied externally in lotion. Research continues to the present.
From Wikipedia: Rosemary contains the antioxidants carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, and other bioactive compounds including camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol, and rosmanol. Some of these may be useful in preventing or treating cancers, strokes and Alzheimer's Disease.
Rosemary was burned as incense in ancient Roman burial ceremonies. The association of rosemary with funerals continued into the middle ages when it was customary to lay branches of rosemary on the coffin.
It is thrown into graves in Europe as a symbol of remembrance and is used particularly in Australia and New Zealand on ANZAC Day.
Who could forget mad Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet saying, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." (Hamlet, iv. 5.)
Today a sprig of rosemary placed in a buttonhole is believed to bring good luck and improve memory. There seems to be some credence for this. A modern study showed that when the scent of rosemary was pumped into workspaces the people working there showed improved memory.
There is a legend about the blue colour of the flowers. It is said that when Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with the baby Jesus, Mary was tired and spread her cloak on a rosemary with white flowers. Instantly the flowers changed to the blue of Mary’s cloak. The Spanish name for rosemary is romero, meaning pilgrim’s plant, and reflects the legend.
Legend has it that rosemary will never grow taller than an adult, around six feet (1.8m) nor live longer than the years of Christ’s life.
The last rose(s) of Summer are struggling to provide a final flourish of colour and scent. Barry took these photographs yesterday.
Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flow'r of her kindred
No rosebud is nigh
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.
I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the stem,
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them
Thus kindly I'll scatter
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.
So soon may I follow
When friendships decay;
And from love's shining circle
The gems drop away
When true hearts lie wither'd
And fond ones are flow'n
Oh! Who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?
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