Roses may no longer be at the heart of every garden but they are still among the nation’s favourite flowers.
The rose is never very far from anyone’s lips, with so many songs, poetry, films and artists using the rose as their muse. Don’t underestimate the importance of the rose in history, mythology, religion and homeopathic medicine.
Different countries around the world hold festivals in honour of the rose. In Morocco, the Valley of the Roses festival takes place in the Dades Valley. Visitors travel miles to attend the festivities and a Rose Queen is elected to reign over the crop.
Hundreds of thousands of the flowers are harvested to be turned into scented oil. Tons of rose petals are used to produce just a few litres. Just imagine, the streets covered in pink petals and a stream of carnival floats making their way through town.
In the UK, this essential oil is as popular as ever, its therapeutic qualities and unmistakable perfume make it an all-round winner.
On top of claimed health benefits, we can also add to the list the rose hip, the fruit of the rose. Actually, many of the domestic cultivars do not produce hips. However, rose hips of some species, in particular the Dog Rose (Rosa canina) and Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa), are very rich in vitamin C, among the richest sources of any plant.
The hips are a good source of food for birds and other wildlife. Human uses for rose hips include rose hip tea, rose hip syrup and rose hip jam.
In the garden, there is a rose for every situation (climber, rambler, dwarf, shrub, ground cover etc) and within those groups so many colours and flower forms from which to choose.
Favourites include Rosa ‘Rambling Rector’ – a rampant rambler, bearing beautiful, fragrant, creamy-white flowers in summer – perfect for disguising unattractive garden features.
Rosa glauca is a vigorous species rose that will thrive in a container on the patio. ‘Gertrude Jekyll’, a classic ‘English’ rose, was once voted Britain’s favourite rose, and Floribundas offer absolutely masses of colour in summer.
If you look closely enough, you’ll discover that there’s a rose for just about every occasion.