Some rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is grown in herb gardens, some as an ornamental, and here in Australia also as a memorial. It is thought that rosemary is good for the memory, with Greek scholars reputedly putting some in their hair to learn more effectively, and so among many other things it has become the herb of remembrance. ‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember’ declares Ophelia in Hamlet, although insane at the time as I remember it.
It also grows wild on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, and so for Australians and New Zealanders, the remembrance it signifies is the loss of life there in the First World War. It is sold for donations for veteran’s charities and worn on the lapel or under medals on Anzac Day – our national day of remembrance for fallen soldiers. People who grow it will often cut sprigs and put them out for people to help themselves. And people plant and tend it on diggers’ graves and at war memorials.
Rosemary is of course a shrubby herb and tending it, apart from water and nutrients, is all about pruning. So if you fancy yourself as a knowledgeable enough pruner to be confident that you are doing the right thing by the shrub and the significance of where it is growing, surely there is nothing wrong with sourcing your herb supply from a cemetery. In case someone might misinterpret respect and remembrance as desecration, perhaps go for the memorials over the graves. And just a conservative hand-plucked tip-prune I would suggest. ‘Lest we Forget’ and all that. You should also check rules within any cemetery – some may expressly forbid picking regardless of whether you are doing it a favour (this is aimed at people who didn’t bring flowers to put on a grave being taken by the urge at the expense of the landscaping).
I would almost load up the dehydrator with rosemary just for the smell the flat takes on for the day. And load it up I just have. From my own herb garden this time; from the shrub by the fence that has started to fall over and may not see another April 25th to be pruned by passers-by. When it is gone, here on a poor-soiled warm temperate coast not unlike its Mediterranean heartland, foraging is easy enough; including the nearest cemetery just a few hundred metres away up the hill.