All About Roses
is stuffed full with lore, old wives' tales, call it
what you like. As its ‘rose season’ here
are some titbits on the world’s most popular flower
We know that the Greeks and Romans grew them for both
outside and inside decoration. Sadly we don’t
know what varieties they grew. The Arabs kept the tradition
alive during the Middle Ages and the Crusaders brought
them back here, including the Rosa gallica 'Officinalis
(still available) in the 13th century which became a
parent of so many modern roses.
Rosa gallica 'Versicolour' known as Rosa mundi has curious
markings with pink and white stripes. It dates back
to the 16th century and is one of the oldest roses in
Moss roses have a curious moss-like growth on the outside
of the buds (calyx) with the first being found in 1720.
A good example still available today is called 'Cristata'
but there are many others, most are perfumed.
In spite of reams being written on how and when to prune,
recent research shows that if you hack back tea and
other bush roses with a chain saw at a convenient height
the roses will flourish just as well.
Roses were at one time grown for medicinal and culinary
reasons as well as for their floral qualities. In the
16th century John Gerard, for example used distilled
water of roses for ‘strengthening the heart and
refreshing the spirit’. It was put into cakes,
sauces and many other dishes to give a delectable taste.
Bourbon roses originate not in Europe as one might expect
but from Madagascar where the first was discovered in
1817, when a botanist found a cross between introduced
china roses and a damask rose. This was in the capital
Ile de Bourbon, now Reunion. Seed was sent to Paris
and a new group of roses developed and, along with it,
the perfume industry. Examples: Zephirine Drouhin, Louise
The introduction of repeat-rose species from China in
1792 onward allowed the creation of perpetually-flowering
and repeat flowering cultivars. They were introduced
to France which has always been the centre of the rose
The Dog rose or R. canina (the common rose of the hedgerows)
is so called because dog was always used to refer to
plants that had no medicinal or culinary value, implying
that they were only fit for dogs. It is rarely seen
in gardens as such but millions of dog roses are sold
each year as the root stock of most garden varieties.
reprinted with permission from Greenfingers.com