Delicious to us but not to deer, Chef's Choice Rosemary is the rosemary of choice for container, herb and kitchen gardens.
Any cook worth her salt knows adding herbs fresh from the garden is an easy—and thrifty—way to create great meals. A staple of Mediterranean cooking, rosemary is the crown jewel of any kitchen garden. But if you’re used to raiding the ordinary rosemary growing in your backyard, it’s time to consider upgrading to Chef’s Choice Rosemary.
While it is possible to cook with any rosemary, prostrate landscape varieties tend to have a slightly onion-y smell and taste (think of the scent of a mass of society garlic plants). In contrast, Chef’s Choice has a lightly spicy taste perfect for cooking. Its smaller leaves and higher oil content are also a boon to chefs, as a little goes a long way in recipes.
Hardy to USDA zones 8-10 and Sunset zones 4-24, the plant grows 1 to 2’ and is generally wider than higher. Its compact form is another feature that sets this rosemary apart, as the manageable size makes it a great choice for containers. In addition to its value in the kitchen, vivid lavender flowers appear in abundance in the spring.
Care is fairly simple. In spring apply either a slow-release fertilizer or top dress with compost. Any necessary pruning can be done when flowers are done producing in mid-to-late spring. Or better yet, cut the flowers to create a bouquet to enjoy inside, which has the bonus of encouraging new growth to appear faster. Like most low-water plants adapted to a Mediterranean climate, Chef’s Choice requires good drainage, whether planted in a container or in the ground. Once established it requires minimal moisture, so be careful not to overwater. If like me, you cook with rosemary regularly and are cutting stems year-round, you may not see many flowers come spring.
While most commonly planted in containers or raised beds, Chef’s Choice Rosemary is a lovely addition to the garden as well. It can function as a small, evergreen accent, or even be planted closely in a row and sheered into a low hedge. Like other plants with a sharply herbaceous scent, it successfully repels deer. Really, is there anything this plant can’t do?