Meet Rosemary

rosemary During the holiday season many folks buy a rosemary Christmas tree from a local nursery or even the grocery store. I have been one of those people. After the holidays I planted the tree in my school herb garden and now it is a thriving shrub. Year round my students and I harvest the stems to use in crafts and an assortment of recipes.

The name rosemary means dew of the sea. Rosemary is certainly a fitting name because it has a great love for sunshine and moist salty air. The short needle-like leaves remind me of pine needles. I often see them growing in clusters along California beaches.

Rosemary is a symbol of remembrance, friendship, and love. If you grow a rosemary bush in your yard, it is said you will never be short of friends. Brides once wore wreaths woven with sprigs of rosemary. Sometimes they added rosemary to their bridal bouquet. During funerals, mourners tossed fresh rosemary stems into the grave. The stems were a sign that the life of the loved one would be remembered.

Long ago Greek and roman students placed stems of rosemary behind their ears to improve their memory. During a difficult test they would wear a rosemary wreath on their heads. Today many people still believe that rosemary’s scent improves our ability to think and remember. During the years I taught 4th grade at Crestwood Elementary, students often harvested a sprig from the garden to smell while tackling a challenging math or history test.They assured me it helped and I have no doubt that it did.  Fourth and fifth graders in Crestwood’s Herb Garden Club enjoy making rosemary wreaths to wear.  They also love eating rosemary gingerbread cookies.

What do you do with rosemary?   I am always looking for new ways to use this amazing herb.

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