Friday, June 5, 2009


I grow a lot of herbs. One of the banes of my existence is trying to keep rosemary alive over the winter. I'm in zone 6. Rosemary is not hardy here. In past years I've tried Hill Hardy rosemary. My garden center claimed it was hardy to zone 6. They lied. Every year I bought it. Every year it died. I had started feeling very much like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football and every time having it pulled away. I wanted it so bad that I just couldn't let go. I had to keep trying.

No more. I've let the dream go - at least for now. Wednesday I stopped at the garden center on the way home. I bought a rosemary, but this time it isn't going into the ground. I'm going to keep it in a pot. I hear horror stories about trying to keep rosemary inside over the winter. Some people claim it is easy, some can never get them to live through the winter. All I can think of is that it has to be easier than trying to keep it alive outside in zone 6.

I had a pot already filled with potting mix. It had my tomato soil that I made back in April. I'm hoping rosemary likes crushed eggshells. I was going to use the pot for some flowers for the front door, but that never happened which is awfully convienent for me. In the rosemary went.

I debated where it ought to go. There is one obvious spot in the herb garden. Half of the herb garden is pretty bare. I have a self seeded little sage plant that I moved over. It hasn't grown much. The self seeded chamomile is still small. I have a section that I'm saving so I can move my lemon thyme up to the herb garden from down below. In the middle of all that is nothing. My cilantro used to self seed prolifically here, but last year the plants just wouldn't set seed in all the rain. So it is pretty bare. I stuck the pot right there. Personally I think the pot looks weird here. It is the only pot around. If it had other pots surrounding it, it would look fine.

Ah well. I'm not growing it for its beauty. I'm growing it for its wonderful smell and taste. If the store had had a Tuscan Blue plant I would have bought it. It is often considered the best of the rosemaries. They didn't. The variety they did have, Spice Island, seems to have a lot of wonderful scent. I was feeling and smelling the leaves in the afternoon. For dinner I made some chard with garlic. After dinner I noticed that my fingers smelled of rosemary still and not at all of garlic. I had probably washed my hands several times in the interm and still I smelled of rosemary. I think rosemary has got to be one of my favorite scents. I can't wait until it grows up and I can harvest it.


  1. Hi Daphne!
    Greetings from Wyoming... zone 4!

    Your chives look so pretty with those pom pom flowers.

    How do you use your Rosemary? Do you have a favorite dish?

    I've never used that herb... sounds like I'm really missing out! I'll have to see if I can get one...

  2. I can always tell when my cats have been through the rosemary bushes because the scent lingers on their fur! Good luck with the rosemary this year. Remember not to water it very much when you bring it in for the winter, better dry roots than wet.

  3. You have piqued my curiosity about 'spice island'! It seems like it would be a good thing to rub on our hands before cooking with garlic! (Unless we WANT our hands to smell of garlic!!). I think your pot looks great in the center of the herb garden. Once the other plants grow it will even look nicer--it serves as a point of interest that I don't think is a negative at all!
    But if you think another pot would be good to add, keep looking for that other Rosemary you like, the Tuscan Blue. You could put it in a 2nd pot and add it to the herb garden. A 3rd option would be just to put a 2nd or 3rd pot in there and add a plant of your choice!!

  4. I have the same problem here with the Rosemary. Could it be that the soil isn't enough well-drained? I bought I new one too and this year I'm going to put it in the garage during the winter.

    Have a great weekend/ Tyra

  5. Rosemary has been a pain for me too. I've been growing it from seed. Ha! Very, Very slow! My grandparents overwintered a huge rosemary plant in their basement for years, they also kept one on their kitchen table where there is a lot of light. Good Luck!

  6. Toni-zone, yeah it wouldn't at all be hardy in zone 4. I wouldn't even waste my time trying there. I eat rosemary in soups and stews, but my all time favorite way is in rosemary bread.

    Michelle, Thanks for the tip. Usually underwatering is my problem though. I always forget. My aloe is the only houseplant that is still alive because of this. If I forget to water for a month it is quite happy with it.

    Jan, I don't like my hands to smell of garlic. I asked a friend what they did to get rid of it and she was shocked I'd want to. She loves the smell on her hands. (My current trick: wash hands with soap and water, rinse, rub hands on the chrome faucet. I don't know what the chrome does but it works).

    Tyra, Oh my soil is not well drained at all. I have clay soil. I know rosemary would rather have a lighter soil, but I'm stuck with it.

    Lzyjo, thanks. I'll probably keep it in the kitchen since otherwise I'd forget about it. I hope overwintering it works.

  7. I love your little herb island! And I think your rosemary looks just fine in the pot! I've stuck a few pots in my garden in the past for some gardening experiments and they do stick out like a sore thumb a bit... but if they live, that's all that counts in the end!

  8. Hi!

    Love your blog! Around here, rosemary grows to the size of a volkswagon. But my troublesome and beloved herb is mint. It's so hot and dry, mint requires constant attention.

  9. Kate, It is true. If they live and produce nothing else matters. I hope it does well.

    AccidentalHW, Thanks, we usually get so much rain here that mint goes crazy. Rosemary is harder since it doesn't like our wet weather.

  10. I have to agree with you that the smell of rosemary is the best thing ever. I don't have a lot of experience cooking with it except in a spice rub on barbecued pork or chicken. I haven't tried it yet, but I've seen people on TV use the stems for skewers.

    Do you think you can preserve the lemon balm chopped up and frozen in ice cube trays and then thawed out to make tea with? It's a georgous looking plant.

  11. Cheryl, I'd never have thought of using the stems for skewers. That would taste great.

    I didn't try that. Ice cubes would probably work well. I'll have to do a test run. I might even be able to freeze it without the cubes. I do that with basil. When it dethaws it turns black, but it still keeps its taste so works well in soups. That plant is in my perennial border. I've got four other plants that are getting bigger inside my fence. I need to get rid of some of them. You can only eat so much lemon balm.