A Rose In Bloom
Throughout temperate parts of the world, roses are esteemed for their fragrance and beauty. Long considered a symbol for love, the modern hybrid roses hold pride of place in floral arrangements. For the herb gardener though, the old fashioned rose is the ultimate herb, favoured for its deep fragrance, flavor in foods, medicinal properties and usefulness in cosmetics. The flowering of old shrub roses is lavish and spread over a season. The many-petalled roses are coloured white and pink, through to magenta and deep purple: they are rounder and more flat than modern roses, yet, profuse with thin to medium-thin petals. Most roses that are not picked will bloom again in autumn with scarlet rose hips, tangy but full of vitamin C.
To discover the exuberance of fragrant old roses, seek out those classified as Damasks, Bourbons, Centifolias, Gallicas and Rugosas. Plant them in moderately rich soil, then water and mulch to encourage deep root growth and to conserve moisture. Old-fashioned roses are remarkably resistant to disease and if not sprayed with insecticides can be enjoyed herbally in potpourri and for cosmetics, or culinary purposes.
Since ancient Roman times, rose petals have been pounded into conserves, steeped in honey and wine, or made into fine syrups and cordials. Candied with egg white and a sprinkling of sugar, rose petals become a delicate nibble to end a meal. Enjoy the clear distilled essence of Rose water, to flavor thin butter biscuits or Turkish delight. Stir fragrant rose petals through a compote of summer fruits or sprinkle them beneath a white cake batter before baking.
If the thought of rose potpourris or floral craft fails to enthuse, go out and “smell the roses” for the mere fragrance of roses is supposed to make you feel “well-balanced”.