No herb garden would be complete without Rosemary. This perennial shrub is hardy in most US zones. It makes a nice landscaping plant as well as a very useful herb for cooking as well as medicinal.
I grow two varieties in my garden; Salem and ARP. ARP has been around a long time is is quite sought after because it is so hardy and flavorful. Here are the ones I started in July of last year under mist. They will be ready for sale this spring. I generally purchase small plants in no bigger than 6" pots. They are less expensive this way and grow rapidly if planted as soon as the soil warms up to around 70 degrees. I usually prune off the top third of these when I plant to encourage them to produce fuller growth. Don't throw away the clippings - use them in the kitchen!
Last year I discovered Salem at our local herb society's sale and it has become my new favorite. I really like it's shape, speedy growth as well as the flavor. It has been beautiful in a container and has proven fast in the propagation bed as well. These little babies have just been transplanted to pots from my propagation bed. I started them in August from cuttings of the plant pictured at the top of this post.
There are two types or Rosemary - Upright (like Salem and ARP) and prostrate varieties (prostratus). I just ordered this last variety from Petals From the Past . I plan on growing it for hanging baskets but it would make a nice ground cover too. Rosemary likes a sunny well drained location but I have a fairly happy one growing near the edge of my shade garden in clay soil. Once it is established, Rosemary is fairly carefree. I add a little compost in the spring and it grows well and produces beautiful blooms in the late spring and early summer.
The best thing about Rosemary is the wondeful addition it makes to your recipies. I wouldn't think of serving a pork roast without a dusting a rosemary before I put it in the oven. Try adding dried cranberries too. What a treat! A grilled or baked Chicken breast with a fresh picked branch of rosemary and a chopped garlic clove on the top is yummy. Adding dried rosemary to navy or pinto beans is really good as well. I love to put dried rosemary into the dry ingredients of bisquits or yeast bread for a unique treat. Nothing is better than going into the garden and bringing in branches of fragrant rosemary for cooking or drying for use later. It dries so easy and the leaves cling to the stems so it is not messy as some dried herbs tend to be.