Wednesday 16 November 2011

ABC Wednesday R is for Red Kite, Rosemary and Roses

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? 

Click here for more Rs


  1. Mmm...rosemary.

  2. You have just given me an idea for my Christmas workshop - a herb evergreen wreath for Christmas - how useful would that be eh? Off to google evergreen herbs and greenery! What a star you are.
    Thanks so much
    Denise ABC Team

  3. That's a kite? I thought it was a RAPTOR!
    Interesting info re rosemary.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  4. A great trio of R's. I remember when red kites were first sighted out of Wales in Oxfordshire and how they have spead their wings since.
    Loved reading about Rosemary and rejoicing in the last rose of summer. So you recall Deanna Durbin too;)

  5. Wow, not the kite I expected but so much better! How exciting to see that flying overhead! And as for rosemary, I love it...truly!


  6. Great post. The photos are great and I love rosemary. Didn't realize how many applications it had.

  7. Nice bird, I had never heard of a Red Kite.


  8. I was so taken with the close-up of the rosemary flowers, Janice, I had to look it up, although I already knew there was no chance of it growing here. And I was right.
    It can be grown as a houseplant, however, but I haven't much luck with those. I seem to be in the process of killing a fern right now, although I have it in a warm place where it gets northern light.
    A fascinating post for the letter R, my friend.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  9. You have red kites in your part of the country? we have them too, they've come over from Wales where there is a feeding station on a farm.

    I am so glad they are back and just hope that gamekeepers and farmers will not shoot them into extinction again. They are such a magnificent sight.

  10. Very interesting information indeed!

  11. I loved learning about Rosemary. It is interesting how so many plants are medicinal. I was happy to see and hear Deanna Durbin. I used to watch her movies as a child on our black & white TV. She had the most beautiful voice. I remember one where she sang, "Night and Day". It was a mystery I think.

  12. Another interesting and informative post, jabblog. Thank you. Love that rosemary!

  13. It was nice for that bird to show up! Wonderful pictures; thanks for sharing.

  14. Wonderful photos and terrific information on rosemary, one of my favorite herbs which I use almost every day during the summer when it blooms for me in my backyard. It is so aromatic and delicious!!

  15. The red kite is spectacular. I don't think we have those around here. I wonder if rosemary would soothe my poor arthritic fingers --too much computer time!

  16. Great shots of the Red Kite soaring through the blue sky.

    I've always liked the scent and taste of rosemary but I had no idea it had such a history.

    Your last roses are still lovely. There were a few on one of my bushes this afternoon but I fear the 45 mph winds that are howling outside will take away the rest of their petals.

    I was just listening to this Deanna Durbin song last week. I had thought about using it on my blog for the Thursday music meme.

  17. I should probably plant some rosemary in my backyard. Sounds like it has some useful properties.

    A Faraway View

  18. Nice to see a few roses still flowering in your garden. I love rosemary. Since it's not hardy enough to live through the winter outdoors here, I grow rosemary in a pot and leave it in my unheated sun room. Even though it gets cold out there. it never freezes.

  19. The coloring on that rose is absolutely fabulous!

  20. Great read!! The facts and the legend about the rosemary flower made a very interesting read!!

    My R post is here.

  21. I remember Deanna Durbin. She had such an amazing voice.

    Thank you for the information about rosemary. I have a huge bush but don't quite know what to do with. Now, thanks to you, I do.

  22. I enjoyed reading your post today. Bring on the rosemary.

  23. I didn't know the biblical connection to rosemary. I am now just a little smarter than I was moments ago. :-)


  24. It's one of my favorite spices. A friend once told me that "variety" is the spice of life.

  25. Lovely photos of the kite and so interesting about the Rosemary. Hope your weekend is going well Janice.

  26. Oh, what marvellous shots of flowers and that kite - superb!

    I'd better start wearing a sprig of rosemary all the time then to improve my memory!

  27. I love rosemary, but I've not been able to keep it alive in the garden. The soil is probably a bit too soggy in winter.
    And I was expecting a red kite, but you've got shots of a red kite, which is even better ;-)
    Beautiful rose too. Love the red blush on its petals.


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