Tuesday, 31 October 2017

13 Ways to use Buddhas Hand - a most unusual and delightful citrus


Buddha's hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis) is such a curiosity. It's unusual form and exquisite aroma is a delight in my food forest. It is a small tree which becomes laden with these weird and wonderful fruits in spring. I get a crop in Autumn too.  This plant is suitable for pots too.

It is called Buddha's hand because of the way it looks. Each of the citrus segments is fully enclosed with peel and look quite like fingers. Each one looks different and quite like the Buddhist hand gestures (mudras).

Interestingly it has no juice like most citrus fruit - just zest and pith. The treasure though is this zest - it adds a wonderful flavour to dishes, like lemon blossom.  Use it as you would any lemon zest. I use it when it's green and further ripened and turned yellow too. It's flavour is quite strong and a little goes a long way.


So how do you use Buddhas Hand?

  1. shave thin slices onto salad
  2. grate over steamed vegetables
  3. shave thin slices onto tofu or fish dishes
  4. grate into salad dressing
  5. add finely grated to marinades
  6. use finely grated in cakes and biscuits
  7. chop slices and brew as a tea (a little honey is nice with this)
  8. make candied segments as throat lozenges (like candied citrus peel)
  9. just munch it raw from the plant when fully ripe (a young friend of my daughters used to come here and do that all the time!)
  10. add slices to bath for an aromatic soak
  11. place in centre of table as a curiosity and air freshener
  12. soak in vinegar for a few days, then use as a antibacterial surface cleaner
  13. telling stories and making creatures with the kids

Medicinal Value

Buddha's hand has long been used to:
  1. relieve pain
  2. ease bruising
  3. clear lungs - an expectorant
  4. soothe throat
  5. ease an upset stomach and digestion issues
  6. ease menstrual pain
  7. boost immunity
  8. lower blood pressure


It is of the citron family - one of the original four citrus fruits that all others emerged from. The others are mandarin, pomelo and papeda (kaffir lime is a hybrid of this).

It mostly grows in the temperate regions of China and India, but is becoming popular in many parts of the world. It is very happy here in my subtropical garden and is great for small yard because it is just a small tree.


Do you have other ways you use Buddha's hand?

Happy gardening. Feel free to share this post.


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Sunday, 29 October 2017

How to use your fresh raw Aloe vera as a leave-in hair conditioner


I grow my own conditioner - Aloe vera  (Aloe vera barbadensis).  Simple, all natural, zero-waste, chemical free. 

Yes, that's it - just one ingredient, no processing - raw aloe straight from the garden to my hair.  Have you tried it?

I'm so delighted to be avoiding harmful chemicals, irritating artificial fragrances, plastic bottles, silicone, false smoothing and costly products. Typical conditioners have 5 main ingredients: cationic surfactants and polymers, oils, humectants, silicones, and proteins.

No thanks! Aloe is great. It:
  • has 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of healthy hair
  • moisturises
  • balances hair pH
  • removes toxins from hair
  • enhances hair strength and sheen
  • locks in moisture
  • tames frizzy hair and fly-aways
  • acts as a detangler
  • rejuvenates hair follicles and prevents thinning
  • contains enzymes that promote heatlhy hair growth
  • is not heavy
  • relieves scalp build up
  • nourishes scalp and prevents dandruff
  • relieves itchy scalp



It's a liberating thing - realising that you can meet your everyday needs straight from your garden like this - free, natural, nourishing and effective. 


Aloe conditioner is so very simply and works a treat!  You don't even need to wash it out. My whole family uses it. The kids love doing it too.

Here's how I use raw aloe as a hair conditioner:

  1. Get a leaf: Every time I wash my hair (with plain fragrance-free organic liquid Castile soap), I grab a leaf from the cluster of Aloe vera plants growing next to my verandah.  Sometimes I take it into the bathroom, but I actually prefer to sit in the garden doing it.
  2. Cut a chunk about 10cms long (I usually just give it a quick rinse to wash off the yellow latex that comes out from just under the skin). You can keep the rest of the leaf in the bathroom for a few days and keep using it.
  3. Open it up (slice lengthwise along the flatter side and simply open it out)
  4. Start applying it all over your hair from the scalp to the tips. (sometimes it helps to run your finger along to release more gel from the aloe flesh every now and then)
  5. Leave it in - there's absolutely no need to wash it out. 
  6. Use it all up: If there's some left, I use it on my face, my neck, my elbows and knees.
  7. Compost the leftover skin. This is a zero-waste conditioner. The aloe skin can go straight to your worm farm, bokashi or compost bin, or you can simply just toss it back into the garden as organic matter!
I designed my garden with my aloe patch close by for easy access. I use aloe everyday for something: 
  • hair conditioner
  • face moisturiser
  • after shaving lotion
  • soothing insect bites
  • sunburn (I try to avoid this!)
  • kitchen/ironing burns (I also very much try to avoid these, but they happen every now and then)
Aloe vera super hardy, easy to grow and abundant. It's great in the garden or a pot. I prefer it in the ground if possible in a warm spot. It actually doesn't mind some shade - it prevents it from getting sunburnt, and the leaves seem to thicken up with more gel.

Here's a little video clip I made about aloe recently:



Here's some other things that I grow at home to use my hair:


Have you tried fresh aloe for your hair too? What other simple natural hair conditioners do you make from your garden?


Happy natural conditioning! Feel free to share this post.


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Thursday, 26 October 2017

7 great health benefits of fresh olive leaf tea - free from your tree!


Olive leaf tea.  Have you tried it? 

Olive leaf tea is a great replacement for green or black tea with zero caffeine and way more health benefits. And, if you have an olive tree in your garden, you have an endless free supply. A gently infused handful of fresh leaves tastes great and is very refreshing hot or iced, straight or blended.



Olive trees (Olea europea) are known as the tree of life and have a great place in a food forest and productive garden - food, medicine, oil, fuel...

Although olive trees are best grown in mediterranean climates, I have one growing here in my subtropical food forest. I placed it in the driest sunniest spot. It is now quite tall and strong. I knew it was marginal here for producing the fruit, which it has done very occasionally BUT this doesn't stop me from still harvesting extremely valuable products from this tree on a regular basis.


My olive tree at the top of my subtropical food forest.

Like pumpkins, most people just wait for the fruit and overlook all the amazing edible leaves (my favourite summer spinach). Same with the olive tree - the leaves are wonderful to make tea and olive leaf extract. Olive leaves are available all year on this beautiful evergreen tree.


Benefits of Olive Leaf Tea

Olive leaf tea has been brewed since the Ancient Egyptians and has great medicinal qualities. It is high in antioxidants and vitamin C - more than green tea! It provides all the benefits of olive leaf extract, but in a milder way.  People regularly drink olive leaf tea to:
  1. relax and ease arthritic pain
  2. reduce bad cholesterol
  3. lower glucose levels
  4. lower blood pressure
  5. strengthen the cardiovascular system - a heart tonic
  6. stimulate the immune system
  7. help fight infections
(note: Avoid if you have low blood pressure, and check with your doc if you have diabetes since it lowers glucose levels)



How to Make Fresh Olive Leaf Tea

  • Harvest healthy looking leaves from non-sprayed olive trees or ones away from busy roads. 
  • Gently infuse a handful of leaves for a few minutes, rather than boiling it. High heat destroys it's active ingredients. You can steep it longer to extract more benefits and really boost your system. You can blend it too with lemon honey or ginger for taste, but I like it straight.
  • I use a coffee plunger, and sometimes just put leaves in the cup with the hot water. Super simple!


A few cups a day is a great tea for your well-being and for healing.

Note
: Most places I researched said to dry the leaves - that's if you want to store it, however if you have a tree and can wander out to grab a couple of leaves each day, fresh is best. It is less oxidised, more potent and more subtle, mellow flavour.




A little bit of history:

Olives are slow growing, hardy and able to withstand extreme conditions. There are records of a 6000 year old olive tree growing in Lebanon.  Olive branch has long been seen as a symbol of peace and it was seen as a life giving tree and revered. There are fossilised remains of an olive tree dated 37000BC  . The first known plantation was on Crete around 3000BC - planted by the Minoan civilisation.

What else do you know about fresh olive leaf tea, or other ways to consume fresh olive leaves?


Happy tea making! Feel free to share this post.


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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

3 easy steps to make natural calendula salve - just 4 ingredients


In just 3 simple steps, with only 4 ingredients learn here how to make your own calendula salve simply, quickly and cheaply.  


In this film, I'll show you how to make this fabulous natural first aid and skin healing salve - step by step. It is such a wonderfully useful homemade product using homegrown flowers and the highest quality ingredients.

Use calendula salve to:
- soothe insect bites
- heal cuts and bruises
- smooth rough elbows and knees
- soften chapped lips
- soothe rashes, including nappy rash
- heal minor burns, including sunburn
- ease eczema and psoriasis

Beautiful homemade salve from homegrown flowers.

This recipe is safe for the whole family. Every ingredient I recommend is natural and edible. What you put on your skin, should be good enough to eat!

This is the final part 3 of my series about calendula. The links to the blogposts and youtube films for the first two parts are:

Part 1: Calendula: How to Grow and Use
(https://youtu.be/w46LHwBz4_4)

Part 2: Make Calendula Oil: for skin, healing and eating
(https://youtu.be/KNRsXuFpVrw)


I love my permaculture garden for the abundance of fresh food, but a permaculture garden offers just so much more. This is one of those ways.

I hope you enjoyed reading and watching this series on calendula. Feel free to share.

Happy gardening and making!

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If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

5 Ways to Eat Your Lavender


I always have lavender growing in my permaculture garden. I love its colour & scent, its hardiness and the way it attracts bees. Lavender essential oil is one of the most widely used oils around the world for its calming properties. But, did you know that there are plenty of ways to eat the lavender you grow in your garden too?

Here are 5 ways to consume lavender as an edible herb. While you can use any lavender, I think the best type of lavender for cooking is any variety of L. angustifolia (English Lavender). This is the one with the smooth narrow (not indented) leaves.

English lavender leaves look like this.


1. SALAD

The leaves, petals and flowering tips of lavender can be used raw in salad. You only need a little. Great taste and colour.

2. SOUP, PASTA OR STEW

The leaves, petals and flowering tips can also be added to soups, pasta sauces and stews. Again, remember, a little goes a long way. If you are using dried leaves, use a teaspoon (about 1/3 of the quantity) otherwise it can be overpowering.

3. LAVENDER TEA

A tea can be made from the fresh or dried flowers of lavender. It is helpful for easing headaches. Apparently it was drunk daily by Queen Elizabeth I for migraines. I prefer using the flowers fresh. The flavour is better - somehow sweeter.

4. BAKING

Lavender flowers and leaves are great in desserts. You can sprinkle them through cakes, biscuits and slices.

5. LAVENDER VINEGAR

Use fresh sprigs of flowers and leaves in vinegar for salad dressings, marinades and more. Place the freshly harvested, but dry leaves and flowers and add to vinegar. Leave steep for a few weeks then strain and use over the next 12 months.

(You can also dilute this vinegar 1 part: 2 parts water as a simple spray and wipe cleaner, which is also excellent for cleaning windows too. It has natural bug-repellent properties too, so a good thing to spritz around a bit)

NOTE: Make sure you know the source of your leaves and flowers to make sure they have not been sprayed.

GROWING LAVENDER

I love that Lavender thrives in some of the more difficult places in my garden, and it’s also a great potted plant. It is so drought hardy. Key thing - don’t overwater it. It doesn’t do well with wet feet. I like to keep my lavenders well mulched and trim then when necessary to keep them bushy.

A TINY BIT OF HISTORY

Lavender is a native of the Mediterranean region and commonly used in the Old World. Did you know that when the King Tut’s tomb was opened in 1923, there was a faint scent of lavender even 3,000 years. Egyptians used lavender for mummification and as a perfume.  Romans also used lavender - for bathing, cooking and purifying the air.





I hope you enjoyed reading. Feel free to share.


Happy gardening and cooking!



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Friday, 20 October 2017

Grow real food in the city to cut hunger



On Tuesday I joined the stage with Maddie, a young indigenous leader, a strong empowered woman, a 21 year old single mum, working hard to finish school. She was there to share her story about what it's really like to be poor and regularly experience food insecurity.

She told us how last week she was standing in the supermarket with $10 to her name, trying to work out how to feed herself and her son for the next week, and that this is not an uncommon thing for her. Everyday life is a struggle.

What would you do if you had $10 left to buy food for 5 days?

She also told the forum that she is so glad there is free food growing in parks and gardens. When she's desperate, that's where she goes. She said it's what saves them from hunger.  Publicly accessible community gardens are vital.

It is so good to know that fruit trees we planted over 20 years ago in various council parks are now mature and feeding lots of people in need, but it's such a small drop in a very big ocean. Another thing is, these gardens have been established by volunteers with little financial support. 

Imagine if there was support to grow so much more food in the cities and towns for free picking - hardy fruits, herbs and perennial vegetables. Things that are robust, long lasting and easy to grow.
Imagine if we encouraged and showed people how to take cuttings  to grow food in their own homes.  We don't have to buy everything!

Imagine park planning involving the design and development of urban food forests - fabulous diverse food producing parks for the people. This is actually happening in a number of cities.

Community food systems are not just a nice thing to do. They are critically important for addressing not only food insecurity, but food sovereignty (the ability to access real and appropriate food, not just a certain number of calories for survival.)

Diverse food gardens are a source of life and hope. They are places where people: 

  • connect with the community and find support
  • can access real food freely
  • can learn how to grow food simply and cheaply
  • can access space to grow food with security (many rental properties not offering this option)
  • can find peace and calm, and a place to think
  • can learn new skills for employment
  • cook up shared meals and learn how to use the seasonal produce
  • can grow culturally appropriate foods not typically available in stores
  • can go for low-cost or no-cost social events and fun for the kids

These are just a few of reasons gardens, especially community gardens are so vitally important. Real food is essential for our bodies and minds, to think clearly, to have energy, to have lasting health.

The number of community gardens is growing, but the issues that emerged at the forum were whether the people who really need the food have the capacity to be involved (physically or emotionally) or feel comfortable to approach these garden groups.  Partnerships between those working to help people in poverty and community gardens are happening, but there could be so much more.

Like I said in my last post, one in six children in Australia live in poverty and experience hunger.  I feel that those of us who have the capacity to do something, can help but growing good food in public places - food that is available to anyone who needs it. Also organise community cook-ups and welcome people and organisations to participate. Most importantly we need to listen to the people who are experiencing hunger and work with them to find positive, lasting solutions.



Dr Richard Denniss, Chief Economist at the Australia Institute - the funniest and most understandable economist I'd ever met who made so much common sense.

A comment that stuck in my mind, by Dr Richard Denniss, Chief Economist from the Australia Institute (co-author of Affluenza, and author of Econobabble), is that, as a nation, we do entirely have the economic capacity to end poverty, but there is not the will. It's not a popular way to spend the national budget. He gave the example that we'd rather invest in a fleet of new nuclear subs, even though we already had some and hadn't used them much. It's about our values and priorities. 

Get involved. Poverty is a much bigger issue than most people realise, or want to acknowledge, in rich countries like Australia. 

The event was the Ending Poverty and Inequality in QLD Public Forum at the Edge, Southbank, that was part of Anti-Poverty Week. The MC was social justice advocate & channel 7 TV anchor, Kay Macgrath.


Monday, 16 October 2017

Permaculture at the Anti-Poverty Forum


It's Anti-Poverty Week this week and I'll be joining the stage at the Ending Poverty and Inequality in QLD Public Forum at The Edge Auditorium in Southbank, Brisbane on Tuesday 17th October.  

I am part of a panel and my role is to explore how permaculture and simple living can help improve the quality of life for those living in poverty. My co-panellists are young indigenous leaders who themselves are struggling to raise their children in poverty.  I am honoured to be invited to share the stage with them, and I'm also looking forward to hearing from The Australia Institute's Richard Denniss. The event will be live-streamed to a number of regional forums too.

If you are in Brisbane and have the morning free, book here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/ending-poverty-and-inequality-in-qld-public-forum-tickets-37379645526  Perhaps there are other ways you can support those living in poverty this week - check out the Anti-poverty Week website to find out ways to help http://www.antipovertyweek.org.au/

Did you know that 1 in 6 children in Australia live in poverty? Or that 1 billion children worldwide live in poverty?  Nearly half the world's population live on less than $2.50/day. In Australia, poverty in indigenous communities is much higher than average, and also for women and single parents. 

Poverty is increasing. So is the gap between the rich and poor.  Hunger and lack of access to good food is a real issue for so many people every day.  Without proper nourishment it is impossible to learn well, to feel well, to think well, to grow well, to work well.

All people have the right to real food (not just a certain amount of calories), yet many solutions have been missing the mark in terms of enabling people to access and grow fresh healthy food - growing food for young bodies and minds. 

Community food projects are a real solution - community farms, community food forests, community gardens, community kitchens, community seed banks, tool banks and more.  Community food projects so much more than the food.  They are places where people learn together, grow together, share resources, build connection to community and place, and grow a culture of resilience and sustainability, to rebuild lives.


Plant one sweet potato - eat the leaves all through the warm seasons, then harvest the roots for winter. The leaves are more nutritious than the roots!
I look forward to learning much tomorrow and finding out more how permaculture can support those living in poverty in my local region, and beyond. 

I'll let you know how it all goes.

If you have a story about how you've seen or experienced permaculture helping to address poverty, please do share.


Perennial foods are easy to grow and provide an abundance of food and home grown mulch too.

There are so many perennial greens that are super easy to grow here and are always ready for picking. This is Okinawan spinach.

Self-seeding abundance - eat it all - leaves, shoots, florettes, flowers, young seed pods, seeds. 
Don't just wait for the beans, eat broad bean leaves too!


A wonderful filler - a perennial hardy potato alterative. Qld Arrowroot/edible canna

Grow your own medicine, skin cream and hair conditioner.


A small space can grow so much food - keep trimming and it keeps growing. Try perennials for a different way of gardening that just keeps providing.

Create a food forest with a diversity of different fruits and crops for all year,

Everyday, a permaculture garden can be the source of healthy fresh food, with very little effort.



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If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

12 ways to use edible natural skin care & healing oil from 2 ingredients and how to simply make it


Turn your calendula flowers into a valuable oil for natural skin care, healing and for eating.

Harvested calendula flowers for making calendula oil.

My new film (link below) shows 2 simple methods to make your own organic calendula oil using just 2 ingredients - calendula flowers and organic local olive oil. 

When I first learnt how to do this, I couldn't believe how absolutely easy it was. I was sure it was going to be really complicated. Give it a go!


Safe to eat so it's safe for your skin

Calendula oil is great for skin care, first aid and ... eating! I love the idea that you only put on your skin what is safe to eat.  This oil is also suitable for sensitive skin, children and babies.

Steeping the home grown calendula flowers in organic olive oil for 28 days.

Here's a dozen ways you can use your home-made calendula oil:

  1. nourishing face oil
  2. moisturiser
  3. chapped skin
  4. insect bites
  5. small wounds
  6. sprains and bruises (anti-inflammatory)
  7. rashes
  8. nappy rash
  9. minor burns
  10. sunburn
  11. eczema and psoriasis
  12. salad dressing

You can use it straight, or make it into salves, creams, lotions, body butter, lotion bars, soap, lip balm, bug bite balm. So easy, yet so versatile. 

What other ways do you use it?

Bright and lovely calendula flower - a great addition to the garden. Loved by the bees too.

I encourage you to go ahead and plant calendula when your season is right, and harvest this wonderful flower for your own golden oil.

Other films in this 3 part calendula series:

Watch part one of this series of films: Calendula Part 1: How to grow and use. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w46LHwBz4_4

Next Calendula instalment will be:
Calendula Part 3: How to easily make your own Calendula salve with 4 ingredients and 3 simple steps. It's a great first aid jar to have in your home.

Easy home made calendula salve - just 4 natural ingredients.

I hope you enjoyed reading and watching. Feel free to share.

Happy gardening and making!

Subscribe to Morag Gamble's Newsletter




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If have enjoyed my blog and youtube channel, you may like to consider becoming my patron too. I think of it like a subscription to a magazine you like - but this one is online. From $1/month, you can be part of my the Our Permaculture Life supporter network. Click here to find out more:  https://www.patreon.com/moraggamble.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

7 ways that Rosemary promotes healthy hair: Simple recipe for natural hair rinse


Rosemary (Rosemarinus offininalis) is a favourite herb in gardens around the world and understandably so. It is one of those hardy perennial herbs that not only grows very easily in a huge range of conditions, it grows so wonderfully, there's always plenty available. It responds well to regular harvesting too. It's super easy to propagate by cuttings too, attracts bees to the garden and is pest resistant. 

Originally from the Mediterranean, this plant can now be found almost everywhere but the most extreme climates. As long as you don't overwater it, or the soil is not waterlogged, it can grow just about anywhere. It can get a bit twiggy after a while, but after a good trim it springs back with lovely new growth. 


I plant rosemary in my garden where I can easily reach it. I use it every day in cooking and in other ways around the home.

Did you know that rosemary belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae), along with basil, lavender, thyme, oregano and many other herbs? There over 8000 species in this family.

Culturally rosemary is important in so many different cultures. Rosemary was considered sacred to ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. The scent of freshly crushed rosemary has been said to help you study and improve memory. It's also the Remembrance Day herb here in Australia. 

Regular snipping of sprigs encourages healthy new growth of supple leaf tips.

Rosemary for Healthy Hair

Did you know that Rosemary is one of the most beneficial herbs for your hair?  It has strong antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-oxidant properties. By regularly using natural homemade rosemary hair products, you can:

  1. stimulate hair follicles and the growth of healthy new hair.
  2. help prevent hair thinning
  3. darken hair naturally - used for a very long time to cover greys (note: if you apply for a few minutes then wash out, you can use on lighter hair without effect)
  4. regular use reduces the appearance of grey hairs
  5. wash away build up of hair products 
  6. make hair feel much more naturally soft and shiny.  
  7. reduce dandruff and itchy scalp too. 
Just 2 ingredients for healthy hair naturally - rosemary and water!


Here's the simplest recipe I know for making a rosemary hair rinse.

Simple Rosemary Hair Rinse for regular use
Makes approximately 4 applications

To simple ingredients:
  • 2 fresh sprigs rosemary leaves
  • 2 cups of water
5 easy steps
  1. In a saucepan, bring the water to the boil. 
  2. Reduce heat, then add the rosemary. 
  3. Simmer for a few minutes with the lid on to keep the volatile oils in.
  4. Let it stand to cool
  5. Strain the leaves out.
It is now ready to use as a hair rinse. After you've washed your hair, pour this over you hair (avoid eyes) and massage into scalp and to the ends. You don't need to wash it out. It leaves your hair smelling so fresh. 

Rosemary in daily meals


I use this flavoursome and aromatic herb in lots of dishes. I don't think there is a day that I don't wander past my rosemary plants to harvest leaves and or flowers. 

I particularly like to sprinkle a few leaves and flowers through my salad. A simple homemade salad dressing is just so delicious with rosemary. Of course rosemary is fabulous on pizza, in vegetable soup, blended through pasta sauces, roasted with sweet potato or potato. So many uses!

But it's not just in the kitchen that I use rosemary. I use it in the shower too, and in cleaning. I always love to find new ways to make the most of all the plants growing in my garden.


Weeping rosemary growing abundantly along the terrace wall.

Types of Rosemary:
I have a few types growing in my garden:
  • upright varieties - some can grow taller than me and can make a great hedge (temporary)
  • a weeping variety that tumbles over the terrace wall 
There are so very many cultivars. I have looked around local gardens and found the ones thriving here and asked for cuttings of those. It's a good way to get the right ones for your area.

What other ways do you use Rosemary in your daily life?



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