Rosmarinus officenalis, or Rosemary as it is commonly known is an evergreen shrub of the mint family, Lamiaceae, noted for the fragrance of its leaves. Rosemary grows wild in the Mediterranean region where it can grow from from 2 to 6+ feet high. It bears shiny, dark-green leaves that are grayish-white beneath and small, white, blue or violet flowers. In masses, blossoming rosemary looks like blue-gray mist blown inland from the sea. Its name translates from Latin as sea dew from the words "ros" for dew and "marinus" for the sea, probably in reference to its inhabiting sea-cliffs. Uses for Rosemary its use fresh or dried as an herb for seasoning, as an ingredient in perfumes. as a moth repellant, and to brew an herbal tea. Europeans carried rosemary at weddings and funerals because they believed it would aid their memories.
There are many cultivars of Rosemary that are grown for their culinary uses, form and flower color. There are cultivars that are prostrate, others upright and a number that are sprawling; all generally have a moderate growth rate and require little water (outside of desert areas) and fertilizer once established. Flowering is primarily in the late winter and early spring with intermittent bloom through the year. A second peak bloom often repeats in the fall. The flowers attract bees. Rosemary tolerates moderate frosts down to about 15°F but are a not a good plant for cool wet locations prefering mild and warmer climates in a sunny location in well drained soils. They tolerate reflected heat, seaside conditions and drought. They are resitant to predation by deer and rabbits and are a good choice for erosion control on a slope. Plant approximately 2-5 ft apart depending on the variety for good coverage.
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Albus' - White Rosemary
A dense shrub to 3 feet tall by as wide with dark green leaves grayish-white beneath and, most notably, with white flowers. Not a exceptionally attractive plant but interesting because it is not blue. We are currently not growinng this cultivar
Rosmarinus officinalis Irene®(cv.Renzels P.P. 9124)
A prostrate evergreen shrub to 2 feet tall by 6-8 feet wide with bright green foliage and blue violet flwoers in late winter through early spring with sporadic bloom year-round. This prostrate rosemary has been touted as a breakthrough in rosemarys because of it's brillant blue-violet floral color and greener foliage. Cascades beautifully over walls with a hummocky growth habit. As with other Rosemary it is resistant to deer and rabbit predation, tolerant to salt spray, alkaline soils and drought. This plant was discovered by Phil Johnson and is patented variety.
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Lockwood de Forest'
A prostrate variety that grows 2 feet tall and spreads to 6-8 feet, cascading over walls or garden edges. The bright green foliage is covered during the spring bloom of pale blue flowers with sporatic bloom through fall. Plant in full sun. Drought tolerant. Deer resistant. This variety is known as Santa Barbara Rosemary as it was discovered here in the Santa Barbara garden of Lockwood and Elizabeth De Forest. The de Forest's speculated that the plant was a spontaneous hybrid between an upright plant that was planted in their garden in 1927 a prostrate rosemary that was planted in the 1930's. Elizabeth deForest, in an article for Pacific Horticulture in 1976 described the pale blue color as "the color of the old French air force uniform". She mentions in this article that it became the most common of prostrate Rosemary cultivars in Santa Barbara.
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Majorica Pink' - Pink Rosemary
A sparse, open shrub that grows 3-5 feet tall and spreads to 5-8 feet wide in a somewhat vase-shape form. The lavender-pink flowers bloom profusely during the winter and spring, putting on a spectactor show. Full sun, drought tolerant. Deer resistant. Opens in the center as it grows. We are currently not growinng this cultivar
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Ken Taylor' -
A sprawling shrub with arching branches that reach 3 feet long. The plant grows 1-2 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide. Very showy full bloom of dark blue flowers occurs in the spring. Full sun, drought tolerant. Deer resistant. This is a very attractive rosemary for its flower display. A plant of this in bloom in our garden has always drawn comments from visitors.
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostrata' -
See Rosmarinus officinalis 'Lockwood de Forest'
Rosmarinus officinalis 'Tuscan Blue' -
An erect shrub that grows 4-6 feet tall and spreads 4-5 feet. Bright lavender-blue flowers bloom among the fine, densely clustered, olive green foliage in late winter through spring. Flowers are larger than other varieties. Plant in full sun in well drained soil. Drought tolerant. Deer resistant. One of the best of the upright Rosemary.
For more Rosemary information see the Mediterranean Garden Society Rosemary Page