A rose is one of the most recognizable flowers in the United States and around the world. Its fragrance and soft petals, not to mention sharp thorns, make it distinguishable over any others in the garden. The rose is also one of the most diverse plants in the floral kingdom. A rose can be picked as a single bud to put in a vase or as a dozen in a bouquet to show your love. It can be grown to great heights on a trellis or as a miniature in a pot.
History of the Rose
The rose has an elaborate history throughout time. Many people liked to argue the Greek goddesses created the rose, and used a part of themselves to come up with the beauty, the scent and the delicateness of its look. However, the truth is that roses are thousands of years old and have been traced to times before humans. The rose as we know it, as a flower for gardens and arrangements, was first cultivated over 5,000 years ago, in Asia.
The rose has throughout time been the center of evil. For instance, the Romans gave up growing food and opted for roses during one point in their empire history. They used rose petals in everything they did, from the water in bathing to lining the tables and floors while eating and drinking. There were used as perfume, in confetti and as an herb and became so valuable, they were grown over other necessary food products. People were starving in the streets, but the royalty needed their rose petals.
Today, roses are still valuable as gardeners around the world purchase over 150 million plants annually. Cut roses, those used in bouquets and arrangements, sell in the hundreds of thousands of tons every year. It is the most widely used flower for arrangements.
The rose family is one of the most complex in the flower kingdom. There are over 30,000 varieties of roses, including bushes, hedges, miniatures, climbers and vines. Some have thorns but now species are being grown without thorns. Roses come in almost every color imaginable, from reds to pinks, whites, oranges, purples, yellows and black, but they didn’t always.
Since their family is so complex, they are divided in to two groups: old roses and modern roses. Old roses were those grown in Europe before the 1800’s. They only came in shades of pink and white and were grown in bush or vine types. The flowers didn’t have continual blooming like we do now. The flowers were small and had fewer petals than the tea rose, they were more like what we now call wild roses. Red roses weren’t introduced until the early to mid 1800’s when they were brought over from China. Once red roses were brought over, the rose began to change.
Modern roses are those that were grown in England and France around the 1900’s. Gardeners began to breed and play with rose types to see what they could design. They began having different colors, different sizes of bushes, stems and thorns. The yellow rose wasn’t discovered until just after 1900 by a French man named Joseph Permet-Ducher.
Roses continue to evolve, but have a little less popularity in gardens than they used to. They had a reputation as being fussy to care for, and prone to disease even though that is no longer true. Roses now bloom continually through the summer season, they are more disease resistance and can adapt to a wider range of growing conditions. Breeders have used science and technology to improve the qualities of the rose, making it an even more desirable flower to own.
Following are types of roses and how to use them
Hedges – A hedge is a solid row of rose bushes planted to form a natural barrier. The natural barrier may provide privacy between neighbors or as a way to reduce traffic noise. Depending on the type of hedge bush you buy, the height will be between three and six feet tall. Birds also love to live in hedges because it provides them protection against the elements and predators who don’t like thorns.
Bushes – Rose bushes are purchased and planted individually or in clusters in a landscape or garden. You can purchase bushes in single colors or one color, miniature or regular. Bushes can be used in your garden or you can cut the flowers and bring in to your house. Roses will attract bees and butterflies to your yard to help the pollination process for your entire garden.
Miniatures – There are different types of miniature roses even. Some are so tiny, they are planted in a pot and kept indoors. The blossoms are small, being an inch or two in size and in shades of pinks and reds. Other miniatures reach 18 inches to 30 inches tall and are planted outside. The roses are much smaller than a standard rose is and come in almost any color.
Climbing Vines – Roses that are made to climb trellises and arbors have many more blossoms than a bush. The branches are more flexible, and they wind around or can be tied to the trellis so they grow straight up. Vines can reach heights to the second story or even higher!
How to Care For Your Rose Bush
Depending upon your variety of rose and the climate zone you live in will determine the exact care you give your roses. Some specifics are all the same and would include:
- Planting in a location with at least partial sun throughout the day.
- Make sure it is planted in soil that drains well and is not in a low spot.
- If you live in harsh winter zones, cover your roses with a Styrofoam dome or heavy mulch at the roots to prevent frostbite.
- In the fall or early spring, cut back branches.
- Prune dead limbs or excess growth during the summer months.
- Remove dead flowers during the blooming months to foster new blooms.
- Monitor for aphids or other bugs and diseases that can kill your bush.
- Fertilize regularly for optimum blooms.
Rose bushes have many uses in the outdoors, such as in landscaping, either as a sole bush or in a hedge. A rosebush can grow and provide color in soil where other things may not like to grow. During the winter, the birds eat the rose hips that have been left during the cold months when their food supply is scarce.
They also have indoor uses. They are put in to bouquets for every occasion, from Valentine’s Day to funerals. Their scent is distinctive, but not too overbearing for indoor rooms. Rose petals are used in perfumes, herbal supplements and in tea.
With being such a recognizable and well-known symbol, there are also many famous associations that go along with roses.
War of the Roses
The two factions who wanted to control England were two families, the York’s and the Lancaster’s. The York’s used the symbol of a white rose on their crest and the Lancaster’s used a red rose to mark all of their belongings. When the two families fought bitterly and with much bloodshed over England, this became known as the War of the Roses.
Tournament of Roses – Rose Bowl and Parade
The Tournament of Roses began in 1890 as a celebration of gardens. It was like a festival, with animals, games, food and amusements. It became very popular and grew enormously. In 1902, the committee decided to add a football game for entertainment. The first two teams to play were Stanford and the University of Michigan. Michigan won, 49 to 0 and it was such a lopsided game, Stanford gave up and left in the 3rd quarter, disappointing fans. The fans were so disappointed, they discontinued the football game until 1916. The game grew more popular and more tourists came to see the tournament of roses. The crowds grew too big for the little area to hold, and the first football stadium was built in 1923. The Rose Bowl Parade and football game is still held every New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California.
Run for the Roses – The Kentucky Derby
Roses were handed out to all of the women attending the Louisville Derby party before a race. They were so popular at the time, that the President of Churchill Downs made them the official flower of the race. The practice grew and a blanket of roses was created. The first blanket was given out to the winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1896. Red roses became the official rose used in 1904. In 1925, a sportscaster coined the phrase, the winner will “Run for the Roses.”
The rose may be the most popular flower mentioned in songs too. Some chart topping hits include, “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” popular during the 1970’s. “The Rose,” by Bette Midler topped the charts. Hits from the early 1900’s include, “Woodland Rose,” “Bring Me a Rose.” Other more modern songs include “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Desert Rose,” “Like the Red on a Rose,” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.”
No matter what your preference is for roses, whether you like long stemmed in a vase or pink ones on a bush, you can appreciate their beauty. And whether you get them from a florist, the nursery or in your garden, you can share their beauty and fragrance with others.