Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rosmarinus officinalis: in bloom!

[Photo: Rosmarinus officinalis in bloom]Rosmarinus officinalis, known in English as rosemary and in French as romarin, is a tender woody perennial native to the Mediterranean region. Its fragrant, greyish, thin, needle-like leaves are used as a culinary herb. The flowers are pale blue.

Rosemary is not hardy enough to survive Toronto winters. It can be grown in the garden as an annual, which I tried last year. It never got very large, 30 cm at best, and of course it's dead now. Rosemary can also be grown as a houseplant, though some find it a struggle. My first boyfriend managed to quickly kill the rosemary plant he tried growing in his dorm room for sentimental reasons, probably a combination of insufficient light and too much heat in the winter. (I married him anyway.)

The rosemary plant at my parents' house on the other hand lived for years. It too never got very big, about 30 cm, and never bloomed. My budgie enjoyed nibbling on it.

The rosemary in the photo is the biggest, most beautiful rosemary plant I have ever seen, and the first time I have seen rosemary in bloom in real life! It's growing in the Allan Garden's conservatory. I'm not sure if it's even possible to grow a rosemary plant this big (well over a metre) in Toronto without a greenhouse.

If you want to see it in person, after entering the centre greenhouse go through the door on the left to the next greenhouse (the one with the pool and the statue of Leda and the swan). The rosemary is in the centre bed.

Ambitious indoor gardeners in Toronto may be inspired by this goregous rosemary bonsai! If I had a sunny window I'd like to try this myself.

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