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Kaleb Wyse trims fresh rosemary from his garden in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. 

Rosemary, a culinary herb many of us use in our kitchens, is also a marvelous drought-tolerant landscape plant. A woody perennial shrub, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a Mediterranean native well-suited to our Valley climate. Its genus name means “dew of the sea” because it grows well by the ocean where the mist supplies all of its water needs. But it also thrives inland in well-drained soil with just a little irrigation.

Thought to improve memory, rosemary was associated with weddings in the Middle Ages. The bride and groom and wedding guests would wear a sprig for remembrance.

An aromatic evergreen shrub, rosemary has leaves similar to pine needles which are green above and white below with short wooly hair. The flowers, white, pink, purple or deep blue, appear in spring and summer but the plants can be in constant bloom in warm climates. Once established, rosemary can withstand drought for lengthy periods.

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