We. Are. Having. Summer. Again. This is November - should be cool days, chilly nights but, noooo – summer. Sigh.
Well, this is a good time to plant parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. (Did you sing along?)
OK – Sage, thought to impart wisdom and improve one's memory, is an evergreen perennial. A member of the mint family and closely related to rosemary, its warm and fragrant flavors are beneficial in food preparation or used medicinally. Plant it in full sun, unless you live here, then plant it where it gets morning sun (our afternoon sun is really HOT). It’s drought tolerant, prefers a sandy soil, grows well as a container plant, and is a good companion plant for carrots, strawberries, tomatoes and cabbage.
There are several varieties of culinary sage including Common Sage, Purple Sage, Tri-color Sage, and Aurea Sage. All of it will add wonder flavor to poultry,eggplant, fish, peas, pork, ravioli, roasts, stuffing, tomatoes, tuna, veal, apple, cheese, and beans. There are many ornamental sages that look and smell nice in your yard but should not be eaten – like Pineapple Sage, Grape Sage, Scarlet Sage, and Mexican Sage.
Sage has a long history of medicinal use for illnesses ranging from mental disorders to gastrointestinal discomfort. In the 1580’s, the English herbalist, John Gerard wrote, "Sage is singularly good for the head and brain, it quickeneth the senses and memory, strengtheneth the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsy, and taketh away shakey trembling of the members."
Gardening folklore says the wife rules the household when sage grows well in the garden.
Remembrance and Fidelity – Rosemary. This is another very aromatic herb that is beautiful in the garden. It has evergreen leaves and brilliant blue, creamy white, or pale pink flowers. And, while it's not cold hardy, it does very well as a potted plant. This is a rather independent plant requiring little or no attention once established. Plant it in full sun, in just about any type of soil. Watch out because your rosemary could grow into something four feet by four feet!
In ancient Greece, students would braid rosemary into their hair or make garlands to wear prior to examinations to help their memory. It was carried by wedding couples as a sign of love and fidelity. Rosemary was given as a gift to symbolize friendship and loyalty. A sprig was often tossed into the coffin to ensure that the deceased would not be forgotten.
Rosemary has been used to treat epilepsy, jaundice, nervous disorders, reduction of varicose veins, arthritis and depression. Today, it is recognized as a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6, additionally it is a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. According to research outlined in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, the aroma from rosemary can improve a person's concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy and, to a lesser extent, their mood. (Those Greeks knew what they were doing wearing rosemary during exams!)
It is one of those herbs that does not lose its flavor during cooking so add it early. Use it with meats – both in the oven and the grill. Add it to olive oil, potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, asparagus, soups, stews, breads, fish. Use rosemary stems as skewers – just thread on your favorite meats and vegetables for a yummy taste.
All-in-all, this is a beautiful, helpful addition to your garden. Oh – place a sprig under your pillow – it will keep evil spirits away!