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Smelling the Roses

In The Noble Kinsmen Shakespeare confesses, “Of all flowers Methinks a rose is best”.

The genus Rosa includes about 100 species from temperate regions to tropical mountains and thousands of different named cultivars. The long-lived genus Rosa derives its name from the Latin, rosa, in turn from Greek Rhodon, which in turn, was derived from the original Indo-European root-word, Ward, still retained in Arabic.

Fossil records show that roses were around prior to the existence of man. One of the oldest fossils, discovered in the United States, dates back approximately 30-35 million years. Rose fossils have also been found in Asia and Europe. Cultivation dates back to the fifth-century in China, Asia, and the Mediterranean regions. Most species are native to Asia, with smaller numbers native to Europe, North America, and northwest Africa. Roses from different regions hybridize readily. Of the more than 100 species of roses, fewer than 10 species (most native to Asia) were involved in the crossbreeding that produced today’s many types of garden roses.

A rose is a woody perennial in the family Rosaceae. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Many are cultivated for their large, showy, and fragrant flowers in colors that are commonly white, yellow, orange, pink, or red. Hybrids are grown for their beauty and fragrance which varies according to variety and to climatic conditions. Rose plants range in size from compact, miniature roses, to climbers that can reach 20 feet high. RosesRoses have enthralled humans for their beauty, form, and scent down through the ages and today we use rose petals for perfumes, cosmetics, and even salads. The fruit, known as hips are high in Vitamin C, with a tomato-like taste, and are made into jam or jelly, brewed for tea, and produce Rose hip seed oil which is used in skin products.

Roses have long symbolized romance, and many people find special pleasure and meaning in being able to grow, touch, and inhale the fragrance of roses.

Garden Roses

The best-known and most popular class of rose are the hybrid tea roses which come in a complete range of rose colors and have large, symmetrical blossoms. Hybrid teas resulted from the crossbreeding of fragile tea roses with vigorous hybrid perpetual roses. These roses were the supreme class during the Victorian era, but were supplanted by Twentieth Century hybrid teas which are the quintessential modern rose today.Polyantha roses are a class of very hardy modern shrub roses, featuring flowers in clusters and a strong repeat blooming habit. These roses are very disease-resistant and are useful as a container plant or in perennial beds. Floribunda roses are hardy hybrids which resulted from crossing hyprid teas with polyanthas, but are bigger in stature and flower. They are wonderful for large containers and as shrubs for small gardens. Grandiflora roses are relatively new hybrids resulting from the crossbreeding of hybrid teas and floribunda roses, and have been known to grow to six-feet tall. These roses produce full-blossomed flowers growing on tall, hardy buses. Shrub roses are large bushes and are perfect for the beginning rosarian since these roses require less care and provide constant color and fragrance spring through fall. Miniature roses are pygmy-sized plants bearing tiny blossoms. Because they are grown on their own root stock (will explain in later paragraph) they will handle unpredictable winters and can be planted in hanging baskets, patio containers and as a mass border for flower beds.Roses

How to Choose a Rose

A rose is usually chosen for its beauty and fragrance or how the flower will be positioned in the garden, but how the rose is produced is an important consideration. Roses sold today in North America and Europe are budded on three different rootstocks, but some companies sell plants grown on their own roots (“own root roses”). Most heritage roses perform better with their own roots, while modern hybrids such as teas and floribundas whose own roots tend to be weak, do better grafted to a more vigorous rootstock. The choice of the rootstock is important, so be sure to check if the commercial company does not give that information in their catalogue.

Cultivating and Growing Roses

Roses require good organic-enriched, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Roses must be in at least five hours of intense sunshine to thrive, and prefer full sun all day. All roses do best when planted in their dormant stage, but once the rose breaks dormancy, you can plant throughout the growing season. Some gardeners prefer fall-planting to give the roots extra time to establish themselves, but the Herb Society of America has found that in Zone 7 and north, some winters will be so cold that the fall-planted roses will not survive.

How to Fertilize Roses

Don’t fertilize newly planted roses; wait 4-6 weeks for the plants to become established. The one thing all Rosarians agree on is that roses love to be fed but do not agree on the type of fertilizer or the rate of application. HSA recommends yearly feedings of about a cupful of 5-10-5 fertilizer per established rose bush, sprinkled around the base, supplemented with monthly feedings of fish emulsion, manure tea, or other organic products. Personally, I use a commercially-packaged rose food that contains systemic insecticides. Experiment to see what works best for you in your garden.

Rose Diseases and Pests (from HSA)

The worst rose pests are thrips, leaf hoppers, rose slugs, and Japanese beetles. The first three can be controlled by spraying a dormant oil in early spring, when you have twenty-four hours of above-freezing temperatures, but before the buds have begun to burst. Japanese beetles can be controlled by strains of Bacillus Thuringiensis applied to adjacent lawns, or you can use Japanese beetle traps. Black spot and mildew are the most common rose diseases, and various claims of success have been made for sprays of baking soda (3 tablespoons per gallon of water) applied with an insecticidal soap (5 tablespoons per gallon of water) or summer horticultural oil. Baking soda sprays must be reapplied after each heavy rain. Also, avoid overhead watering.RosesSeveral Lovely & Hardy Rose Varieties to try

“Katy Road” or “Carefree Beauty” - Hardy in Zone 4-9

“Katy Road” or “Carefree Beauty” are upright ever-blooming shrubs that can grow 3-5 feet high and 3-4 feet wide. Dark Green leaves are shiny and have a leather appearance, with thorns usually present on the canes. Large pink blossoms grow in clusters from late spring to first frost, and flowers have a slight fragrance. Orange hips appear in the fall after bloom period is complete. Overall, this rose shows good disease and pest resistance and is heat tolerant.

“Peggy Martin Rose” - Hardy in Zone 4-9

This rose is a climber that reaches 12 to 15 feet, with medium green leaves, and is semi-thornless. It’s Blossoms form in clusters, and it is an extremely hardy vigorous climber.  “Peggy” is also a repeat bloomer. It is called the Hurricane Katrina Rose because it survived the salt-water flooded yard of Peggy Martin in New Orleans.

Rose Potpourri - Old Recipe Book, 1820. Source: Lotions and Potions - National Federation of Women’s Institutes

Pick your roses at midday, when dew has gone from them and remove the stalks. Spread to dry on sheets of paper (but not in the sun). When the rose petals are dry, mix them with any other dry flowers you like, clove pinks, violets, orange flowers, also lemon verbena, sweet geranium and bay leaves, with balm of gilded and dried lavender. Then add your spices; 1 oz. each of cloves, mace, and cinnamon; ½ oz. of storax, allspice, and gum benzoin. Then put in some thin slices of orange and lemon peel and a handful of rosemary. Mix it very well.

Good Enough To Eat! Pink Rose Petal Salad - American Rose Society

2 Belgian endives

1 head Bibb lettuce, torn

1/4 cup pine nuts

Petals of 4 mature pink roses

1/4 cup light olive oil

6 tablespoons raspberry vinegar

Arrange endive leaves on 4 chilled salad plates. Sprinkle with Bibb lettuce, pine nuts and rose petals. Whisk olive oil gradually into vinegar in small bowl. Drizzle over salad. Serve immediately. Yields 4 servings

Information above from: Herb Society of America, Herb of the Year 2012 - Wikipedia.org, Rose - 2012 Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. - Rose The Tennessee Gardener’s Guide, 1996, Walter Glenn and Lark Foster Chamblee’s Rose Nursery, Peggy Martin Rose

 

 

 

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