Every Blooming Thing: It's the time to talk about the Queen of Flowers
Let's talk about roses.
Why? Because January is the month to prune your roses and plant bare-root roses. Bare-root plants are taken from the field when they are nearly dormant, stripped of leaves, wrapped in peat moss and plastic, then held in cold storage until they are shipped.
Bare-root roses must be planted before warm weather starts or they will die.
The rose has such a history that I don't know where to begin. I guess we could start with its name, which refers to its color. Rosa is Latin for red. From earliest times, the rose symbolized love, passion, magic and hope.
The Romans used roses in feasts. The fruit of the rose, hips, are edible as well as beautiful. The Greeks associated it with the blood of Aphrodite's beloved Adonis. The Christians used it as an emblem of spiritual love connected with the Virgin Mary.
Before the 16th century, the Apothecary rose, native to Europe, was used by healers for almost any ailment. The Persian word for rose, gul, was also the word for spirit.
During the 16th century, the first yellow rose arrived from Persia. The Centifolia , or hundred-leaved rose, was developed in Holland about this time. We now call them by the nickname of cabbage rose. The exotically scented Damask rose (from Damascus) was used to make rose water. The Dog rose was said to cure the bite of a mad dog.
Napoleon's Josephine carried a rose with her always so she could hide her bad teeth when she laughed. Poor Josephine — no dentists then.
The Chinese have grown roses from prehistory, although it wasn't until the end of the 18th century that China's roses came to Europe. These roses bloomed continually, unlike the old roses that bloomed twice a season. It was thought they were called Tea roses — not because they smelled like tea, but rather they were in boxes along with imports of tea.
The tea rose has become the basis of nearly all of our modern roses. The pink Hybrid Tea rose, La France, bred in France in the late 1800s, is officially recognized as the first hybrid Tea rose.
New varieties of roses have often been named after distinguished people and events. Sometimes their identities live on only in roses named for them. Some roses today tell us of people whom everyone knows, such as Grace Kelly and Princess Di.
The Peace rose commemorated the rose bred in France and smuggled out to America just before the Nazis invaded. In the beginning, millions of years ago, there were what we now call species roses. These wild roses are the ancestors of all varieties today.
The rose began in antiquity and will continue for as long as gardeners grow what one poet has called the Queen of Flowers.
Shirley Felder is a member of the Red Bluff Garden Club, which is affiliated with Cascade District Garden Club, California Garden Club; Pacific Region Garden Club and National Garden Clubs Inc.