June Flower, The Rose.

Chloris, the Greek Goddess of flowers, crowned the rose queen of all flowers, a title that the rose deserves today as much as it did in the Golden Age of Greece. Not only is the rose of unparalleled beauty, but it has also proved itself to be useful in a hundred different ways. It has been prized for its medicinal value, cherished for its sweet scent, and appreciated for its delicate flavor.

chloris greek goddess

The legend of the origin of the rose is from the days of the Roman Empire. The story is told of Rhodanthe, a woman of such exquisite beauty that she had many, many suitors. She showed little interest in any of them and sought refuge in the “Temple of Diana.” Her suitors were persistent, however, and followed her there, breaking down the gates to get close to her. Diana became incensed at this and turned Rhodanthe into a beautiful rose and the suitors into thorns. From this legend, the rose has become a symbol of love and beauty.

Romans used roses extravagantly, and soon they became synonymous with woman, wine, and the indulgent mood of that day. Because of this, early Christians would not allow roses in the church.

Medieval gardens always included many roses. These were not grown so much for their beauty as for food, for medicine, and to supply materials to make rosaries {made from compressed rose petals}.

Roses were thought to cure a wide variety of ailments, including toothaches and earaches; diseases of the stomach, lungs, and intestines; overindulgence in wine; headaches; hemorrhages, sleeplessness; excessive perspiration; and hydrophobia. According to the doctrine of signatures, red roses were used to treat nosebleeds.

The rose is dedicated to Harpocrates, the god of silence. The term sub rosa, “under the rose,” comes from the Roman practice of hanging a rose or swag of roses over a conference table. The code of honor was that no gossip passed at the table under the roses could be repeated. Today sub rosa means confidential or in secret.

Roses have been cultivated in Greece and the Orient for over 3,000 years. It is thought that all cultivated roses came from the dog rose, R. canina. Fossils of this rose species from 35 million years ago have been found in Montana.

One of the first lavish displays of roses was seen in England in the seventeenth century when Catherine of Braganza {from Portugal} married Charles ll of England, and roses were brought from the Orient for the ceremony. This helped to open up the Orient to the British, and the British India Company soon opened botanical gardens in Singapore and Calcutta.

The rose adapted exceedingly well to the English climate and quickly gained great popularity there.

The English Wars of the Roses were fought between the House of York {symbolized by a white rose} and the House of Lancaster {whose symbol was a red rose}.

During World War ll the nutritional value of rose hips {from the dog rose} was discovered. Rose hips contain more vitamin C than almost any fruit or vegetable. Gathering rose hips became a national passion for a time, and the dog rose was a patriotic symbol.

To the Arabs, roses signified masculine beauty, and the white rose was often associated with Mohammed. The Arabs brought the art of distilling to Europe and rose essence soon became an important ingredient in perfumes, cooking, and medicines. Rose was used extensively as a flavoring and was important in making candy.

Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon’s empress, was an ardent rose lover and had a collection of over 250 varieties.

Associations with the rose were not always happy. In Switzerland, roses were often associated with death, and cemeteries were sometimes called rose gardens. Ancient Saxons believed that when a child died, one could see the image of death plucking a rose. The rose also symbolized rebirth and resurrection.

Cultivated roses arrived in North America in the early seventeenth century when Samuel de Champlain brought roses from France to plant in his garden in Quebec. The greatest rose collection in the New World in 1630 was held by Peter Stuyvesant in New Netherland. Although twenty-six species of roses are native to North America, over 90 percent of those grown in cultivation are non-native.

Americans have always loved the rose. It is the state flower of New York, and the American Beauty Rose is the floral emblem of Washington, D.C. In 1986 the rose was chosen as the national flower of the United States.

The Shakers grew roses extensively and used the petals to make rose water, which they sold. The Shaker Rose Rule was that no rose could be cut to use for decoration or personal enjoyment. All roses were cut without stems and were used only to make rose water.

Perhaps the most famous quotation about roses is from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Roses have never been known by any other name, and their scent today remains as hauntingly sweet as it was 3,000 years ago when roses were grown in the Orient.

Common Name: rose

Genus: Rosa

Species, Hybrids, Cultivars:

Types of roses: Old-fashioned – includes the older hybrids. Hybrid tea – large blooms.

Floribundas – smaller blossoms borne in clusters. Modern shrub – large flowered.

Climbers and ramblers – a vigorous climbing habit. Miniature – tiny, with semi-double or double flowers.

Family: Rosaceae

Blooms: summer

Type: perennial

Description: It is difficult to find any flower more beautiful than roses. The grace and elegance of the flower forms and richness of their color make them true beauties of the garden. New varieties constantly come on the market to compete with the popular old-fashioned roses that have been known and loved for centuries.

Cultivation: Rose gardens should be created in an open, airy spot in full sun with rich, deep soil. Dig the area 1 foot deep and allow it to settle before planting. Roses require a good bit of care. They should be watered regularly, fed periodically, and checked frequently for pests or disease. Pruning is necessary to cut out dead or weak branches and to clip out lateral buds to produce larger center flowers.

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