Rosemary as Ground Cover
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Sam Parnes
Posted on: September 29, 2005

This property has a steep hill leading to a ravine. Bad sprinkler coverage, the white ash fly, or both caused practically all the ivy to die in part of the hill, a 25’ by 34’ plot. A very small part of the plot is too steep to work. Bountiful Gardens referred me to you because they said that they had no creeping rosemary-just the upright varieties. Which variety of rosemary is most suited to steep ground? Do you sell this particular variety in the form of a seed that is not genetically modified, is preferably organic, and produces an edible plant? Are upright varieties much less able to hold back erosion than the creeping varieties?

You did not mention where you live and I assume you live in climatic zone 8 or higher. Only the upright Arp rosemary survives winters out of doors in zone 7 and none do so in zones 6 or lower without draconian protection measures.

Creeping rosemary varieties not only hold soil in place by their roots, (the upright varieties do that too)but also with their branches, because the branches keep bending over the soil.

The wild form of rosemary is upright, so any seed grown plant will usually be upright -even if the parent is creeping. The creeping varieties were spontaneous mutations that an observant grower noticed and then propagated by cuttings.

We grow our plants organically and we do not offer any artificially genetically modified plants.

Let me note that mutations are inevitable in the natural world, since radiation is part of the natural environment. Most mutations are harmful, but the odd one helps the plant and allows it to survive where the standard form would not. For instance, creeping varieties do better than upright varieties in windy and exposed locations. Not having a perfect mutation correction system, allows some of any type of organisms to adapt to drastically changing environments - as we now see, a changing climate is a fact of life .

Richters 2005 selection of cutting propagated trailing/creeping rosemaries is: Blue Rain, Golden Rain, Huntington Carpet, Lockwood, Santa Barbara and the semi-trailing Severn Sea rosemary.

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