Chef's Choice® RosemaryRosemary officinalis 'Roman Beauty' (PP# 18,192)
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The Chef’s Choice® Rosemary is a small shrub growing less than 2 feet tall and wide, with exceptional levels of the aromatic oils that make rosemary so useful in the kitchen. Its compact form makes it ideal for growing in pots inside or outside the kitchen, and plants can be overwintered in a cool porch or at a sunny window. The evergreen leaves are available all year round for the kitchen, and fresh leaves are so much better than dried ones. Attractive violet-blue spring flowers and dense green leaves make this a great garden plant as well.
Grow the Chef’s Choice® Rosemary bush in full sun for the best growth and the most oils. It can resist outdoor temperatures down to 10oF, so keep it outside except during the coldest weather. Overwinter in a sunny, cool place. Grow in well-drained soil and don’t overwater. Pests and diseases are rare, and this plant has good tolerance of salt-spray. Trim as needed for the kitchen, and give a harder trim in spring to encourage lots of fresh new growth. Don’t cut back into older wood.
It is always great if you can combine the visual beauty of the plants in your garden with their usefulness in the kitchen, and when it comes to herbs there are few more useful to have fresh than rosemary – or more attractive in the garden. Dried leaves are tough and they lack flavor, while the fresh plant is aromatic and soft – perfect in any dish. If you enjoy using rosemary in your cooking, then you want the best, right? The Chef’s Choice® Rosemary gives you exactly that, because this variety has a very high content of the aromatic oils that create that rosemary flavor, so a little goes a long way, and you really get the full force of its unique flavor in everything you cook. Plus, this compact, upright plant is wonderful in the garden, perhaps grown as an edging, or planted at a corner near the kitchen door. In cool zones its perfect for growing in a pot and bringing inside for the winter months, and then using in summer to decorate your patio or terrace. The pretty violet-blue flowers add a great touch in spring, and the lovely dark green leaves look great all year round.
The Chef’s Choice® Rosemary is an upright evergreen shrub, growing just 18 to 24 inches tall, and spreading about the same width. It has a neat, compact form, and it doesn’t grow big and sprawling the way a lot of older varieties of rosemary do. The stems become thick and woody at the base of the plant, with a gray-brown peeling bark, complementing the rich dark green of the leaves. These leaves are small, about ½ inch long, and they are thick, slender and slightly pointed. The upper surface is slightly glossy and dark green, while the lower side is lighter and sage green. Evergreen, this bush looks attractive all year round. In spring the branches bloom with small violet-blue flowers, like tiny open mouths, and these grow all along the branches, giving a cheerful look. The flowers can be picked and scattered across a meal too, although they don’t have a pronounced flavor.
The leaves of rosemary are rich in essential oils, including camphor, and they have a distinctive and unique flavor, redolent of the Mediterranean. They are an essential ingredient in many Greek, Italian and French dishes, and since this variety has high levels of these oils, you really get that authentic flavor. Compounds in rosemary have also been found to stabilize omega-3 fatty acids (valuable for heart protection) from breaking down when heated in cooking.
This compact bush is perfect for pot growing, so that you can have it near the kitchen, or, in the winter, right in the kitchen. In warm zones it can be grown as a garden shrub, and it is often planted around rocks, on retaining walls, or as a low edging, trimmed or untrimmed.
The Chef’s Choice Rosemary is hardy down to 10oF, so it can be grown outdoors in zone 8, and it also of course grows well in warmer zones. It can be left outdoors most of the time, and just brought inside when temperatures are low. You can also grow it indoors on a sunny windowsill. Avoid moving it in and out too much when outdoor temperatures are below freezing.
Full sun will give the most essential oils and the best growth with the Chef’s Choice Rosemary, so place it in a sunny spot if possible. It can stand a little shade each day, but growth will be less compact. Any well-drained soil is suitable, including alkaline soils, rocky soils and sandy ground. For potted plants use a soil blended for cactus or succulent plants. It has good resistance to salt spray, so grow one at the beach cottage so you can throw leaves on the barbeque when grilling meats – great flavor and what an aroma!
Generally free of pests or diseases, the Chef’s Choice Rosemary is very easy for anyone to grow –good cook, bad gardener? – no problem. Let the soil dry in pots between each watering, and use a little liquid fertilizer in spring and summer. You can trim as you need for the kitchen, and a harder, overall trim in spring before the new growth begins will keep your plant vigorous and growing for years. Don’t cut into old branches, as this often kills the bush.
The thick leaves of rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis, evolved to resist drought, and this plant is a major part of the Mediterranean coastal ecosystem called maquis. Many of our garden plants came west from China, but rosemary is one that was carried from Europe to China about 2,000 years ago, where it escaped and became a wild plant. It is widely used in Mediterranean cooking as a flavoring for everything from roasted potatoes to chicken and lamb. It is also used as an aromatic in baths, in shampoo for hair, and in natural medicine.
The variety called ‘Roman Beauty’ was developed in 2003 by Christopher Fairweather, owner of Fairweather’s Wholesale Nursery, in the village of Beaulieu, Hampshire, England. He selected it from a batch of rosemary seedlings, seeking a plant with a clean, upright form that would pack well, without breakage, in boxes for shipping. It was patented in 2007. Only later was it realized that this variety had very elevated levels of the aromatic oils that give rosemary its flavor. Today this plant is sold with the trademark name of Chef’s Choice®, ,part of the Southern Living® Plant Collection put together by the nursery consortium Plant Development Services, Inc.
Everyone wants rosemary for their kitchen, so make sure you have the richest tasting, and order the Chef’s Choice® Rosemary today. Don’t hesitate, because this variety is the best, and the best never stays on our farm for long.