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Arbor Gate's Picks
of the Month

Christmas Herbs

December 1, 2016 Back to Picks >

Old customs and legends have connected many herbs with Christmas and make them especially appropriate for the Advent and Christmas seasons. The natural greens and reds in herbs and peppers complement traditional Christmas colors.

There are several herbs that are appropriate for small live Christmas trees. They add diversity to the season and are useful after the Christmas season. They are Rosemary, Greek Myrtle, and Bay Laurel. Rosemary is used in Europe because of the associations with Mary (the flowers changed from white to blue after she laid her cloak on it, and blue is the traditional church color associated with Mary).

Rosemary — For remembrance, of course, and long associated with Mary. Rosemary was used during the Middle Ages by housewives to spread on the floor at Christmas. As people walked on it, a pleasant aroma arose. Tradition has it that the shrub is fragrant because Mary laid the garments of the Christ Child on its branches. The night he was born, legend has it, the trees suddenly bore fruit and flowers blossomed out of season.

Numerous varieties of rosemary thrive in our region, and provide decorative and culinary accents. Remember to provide great drainage, whether in the ground or in pots, gentle but frequent clipping (great for holiday cooking!), and a sunny location. The cool season is great for getting planting rosemary in order for it thrive even through next summer’s heat.