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A rosemary tree gives the look and smell of the holidays, in miniature.

The smell of a real tree in the house during Christmas can transport you back to your childhood. If, for some reason, you must have an artificial tree, however, the scent of rosemary during the holidays can also rekindle those memories.

Rosemary, the aromatic cooking herb of remembrance, can serve as a wonderful focal point-even for those with real trees-during the holiday season. Normally grown outside, this perennial herb can be pruned and decorated to enhance the indoor environment and add a special touch to any room. It also makes a wonderful gift!

All you need is a rosemary plant, decorations and a few creative moments alone with a wonderful herb.

Pruning the Tree There is no great technique for pruning rosemary and, unless the plant is large and woody, all that is necessary is a pair of scissors or light pruners. Since it is an herb, rosemary is accustomed to having its branches clipped, so don't worry about damaging the plant. In fact, the more often you prune, the bushier the rosemary tree.

The rosemary can be roughly pruned to recreate the not-so-perfect Christmas trees of yesteryear, or shaped to resemble the cultivated trees that have become popular today. Just like the trees that were dragged from the woods and stood up on the front lawn for inspection, the rosemary might have one side that is a little less than perfect. As in the past, the worst side can be cleverly hidden with decorations or turned towards the back.

Get Set, Decorate

The types of ornaments that can be used and the styles of decoration for the rosemary tree are endless. It is possible to create a miniature version of a larger tree already in the home, or something different. The most important thing to remember is to keep the number and size of the decorations small. Large decorations will dwarf the tree, too many will make it cluttered.

Miniature light sets will highlight the tree at night, but avoid using the large bulbs if possible. Use instead the miniature sets specifically made for popular porcelain Christmas villages. These are tiny enough to hide during the daylight hours and are usually powered by batteries.

Small strings of beads cut into short strands can be strung across the branches or longer strands can be draped like a garland. Little bows can be tied on the ends of branches, or for an old time-Christmas, popcorn strung on thread can decorate the tree. Decades ago, miniature ornaments were popular; you might have a box still tucked away in the attic. Little bells that actually ding, tiny bulbs of silver and gold and small glass Santas can be dusted off and hung on the rosemary tree.

And don't forget the final touch of adding a small present beneath the tree for that someone special.

Overwintering Rosemary

The ideal location to overwinter rosemary is a well lit, unheated room, such as a porch or sunroom. The plant will be happy and healthy if there is good air circulation, adequate drainage and the soil is kept damp, but not soggy. It is extremely important for the potting soil to never dry out or the plant will die. If you repot the rosemary, use a soilless mixture of peat, perlite and bark. Keep an eye out for mealy bugs, scale and white flies. If they do infest the plant, apply an insecticidal soap according to the directions on the bottle.

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