Herbs And Spices: All About Rosemary

Rosemary planters

Herbs and spices fascinate me. In part, this is thanks to a good friend of mine who’s an adventurous cook and an avid gardener. She introduced me to some of the uses and benefits of different herbs. And I’ve been reading up on them ever since.

When I recently styled the Mediterranean vignette for my first Urban Jungle Bloggers post, it included a rosemary plant. And that gave me an idea to write a series about different herbs and spices. I thought you might find it interesting to learn a little bit more about them, their history, benefits and uses, as well as how to take care of the plants.

So let’s begin with rosemary, a beautifully decorative plant with a wonderful aroma.

Rosemary - herbs and spices

A brief history

Rosemary originally comes from the Mediterranean where it grew near the sea. In fact, it’s Latin name ‘rosmarinus officinalis’ translates as dew of the sea.

It captivated the ancient Greeks and Romans for its mystical and healing powers. And was used as a culinary and medicinal herb.

In ancient Greece it was believed that Rosemary improved the memory. So during exams, students would braid it into their hair or place it in their pillow the night before, to enhance their memory while they slept.

In the middle ages Rosemary was thought to be a cure for poor digestion, migraine, joint disorders, and muscle aches. And brides often wore it at their weddings because it was also a symbol of happiness, loyalty and love.


Interestingly, recent medical research has discovered that many of the ancient beliefs about rosemary have proved to be true. The scent does indeed enhance memory and concentration.

Rosemary contains vitamins A, B, C and E. And it’s a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. These are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. It could also promote eye health and aid digestion.

Rosemary oil possesses marked antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties and modern herbalists use it to treat a variety of skin disorders.

But a few precautions: be careful not to consume it in very large amounts as it occasionally can cause side effects. Also be careful if you’re pregnant, have high blood pressure or are on various other medications.  (It’s always best to check with your doctor first.) And never eat or drink rosemary essential oil as it can be toxic.

Rosemary plant - Mocha

How to look after your Rosemary Plant

  • Rosemary thrives on light. So if possible, place your pot on a windowsill that gets bright morning sunshine. And if you have outdoor space, put it outside when the weather is warm.
  • Make sure the soil doesn’t dry out, but don’t over-water your plant. Using a terracotta pot will increase evaporation so will reduce the risk of root rot.
  • To encourage growth, pinch off the top bud with your fingers or a pair of scissors. This redirects the plant’s energy to other buds and will give you a bushier plant.
  • Any bag of soil from a gardening shop should work fine. But don’t use regular garden soil which might contain pests or diseases that could damage your rosemary plant.

Cooking with Rosemary

Rosemary is used a lot in traditional Italian food. Add some when you prepare chicken, lamb or fish. It makes a great marinade for a Mediterranean style salmon mixed together with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and garlic.

Try it with potatoes, soup, salads and dressings.

You can even make it into a herbal tea. Steep a fresh spring in hot water for three to five minutes. (I still have to try this!)

rosemary napkin rings and place cards

Decorating with Rosemary

A terracotta pot filled with rosemary makes a beautiful decor accessory for your home – just as it is. Or you can place a few springs in individual bud vases to add some greenery to your table.

And isn’t this a great idea – make napkin rings or wreath place cards using rosemary sprigs?

Do you have any other decorating ideas, suggestions or recipes for using rosemary? Please tell me in the comments below.

[Image credits: 1 – Crocus |2/3 – Mocha | 4 – spoonforkbacon ]


  1. I’d have it as a herbal tea. It really is good to try!

  2. David Ryan says:

    I need to grow Rosemary in my garden.

  3. Katie Robbins says:

    Love these napkin rings. Beautiful pic. I’d just bought a rosemary plant for my garden – but I may have to steal it for indoors now. Maybe even for my studio!

    • Rosemary is so lovely for indoors too. The aroma is gorgeous! Perhaps you could take a cutting to start a little plant for your studio?