A ROSE TO THE OCCASION

A ROSE TO THE OCCASION

From the earliest times, indeed throughout the history of civilization, people from around the world have held the rose close to their hearts. The earliest known gardening was the planting of roses along the most travelled routes of early nomadic humans. Earliest roses are known to have flourished 35 million-years ago and hips have been found in Europe and petrified rose wreaths have been unearthed from ancient Egyptian tombs.

  • The Romans outdid the Greeks when Nero, the hedonistic emperor, 1st century AD, dumped tons of rose petals on his dinner guests.
  • Cleopatra had her living quarters filled with the petals of roses so that when Marc Antony met her, he would long remember her for such opulence and be reminded of her every time he smelt a rose. Her scheme worked for him. Such is the power of roses.
  • The Romans cultivated this great beauty and named it Rosa Gallica.  Newly married couples were often crowned with roses.

Roman high society women used petals much like currency believing that they could banish wrinkles if used in poultices. Rose petals were often dropped in wine because it was thought that the essence of rose would stave off drunkenness.  Victorious armies would return to be showered with rose petals from the civilians that crowded the balconies above the streets.

War of Roses

The war started when the nobles of York rose against Henry VI of Lancaster who was a feeble ruler.  The Yorkists held power until Richard III lost his throne to the Lancastrian Henry Tudor.  Henry Tudor married into the House of York. This personal union ended the conflict, and a new famous dynasty, the Tudors, emerged.

The War of the Roses was a civil war in England that lasted from 1455-1487. The House of York adopted a white rose (R. alba).  The House of Lancaster decided to take a red rose (R. Gallica). The winner of this war, Tudor Henry VII, merged his Lancastrian rose with the red rose of his York bride and thus created the Tudor Rose, the Rose of England.

Roses in Modern Period

For many years hybrid teas and floribundas have been the most popular types of roses. There are many different types of roses:

  • Antico Moderno™ Roses – A renaissance of nostalgic flower shapes
  • Hybrid Tea roses – Queens of the garden
  • Floribunda Roses – Flower power in action
  • Fairy Tale™ Roses – Beauty spots on the cheeks of the world
  • Miniature Roses – Flowering jelly tots
  • Colourscape roses – The Artists’ landscape
  • Cushion Groundcovers
  • Low Shrub roses (informal)
  • Scrambler Roses (prostrate groundcovers)
  • Midinette – Climbing starts
  • Panarosa™ Roses – A rose panorama
  • Spire™ Roses – Towering beauties
  • Climbers, Ramblers, Shrub and Pillar roses
  • Standard Roses

In recent years old roses are making a revival.  The term ‘cabbage rose’ is a broad term used to describe rose blooms that have such a full petal arrangement that their unfolding shape is likened to the densely unfolding leaves of a cabbage.  The original Centifolia (hundred petalled) roses were grown in gardens and parks in the 17th century.  These roses were adored not only for the beauty of their blooms, but even more so for their rich intense fragrance.

Centifolias originally flowered only once, in spring, but retained their green leaves into winter.  Only when they were cross pollinated with repeat-flowering varieties in the 18th century did new cultivars appear that flowered in spring and then carried on sprouting new blooms in flushes from summer into autumn.

This gave rise to a diversity of roses in nostalgic flower shapes that range from shallow, open and deep cups and incurved and recurved petals, button eyes, pompom rosette and quartered rosette blooms.

Many of these cabbage rose varieties exude their very own distinct, complex, rich and magnificent fragrance.

Today we are spoilt for choice, so you have every reason to add a touch of vintage to your vegetable garden by planting exquisite, fragrant cabbage roses that will create excitement amount your leafy greens!

Breeders around the world have put all their efforts into improving the health of roses in recent years and seem to be winning the battle. Many of the new introductions are now stronger, healthier and disease resistant than ever before, and who knows, we may just see the end of the black spot problem in the next few years, plus the introduction of a ‘Royal Blue Rose’.

The future is definitely looking rosy.

Citing extracts taken from Country Garden roses / the Flower Expert / The Gardener “Grow to Eat” magazine

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