Posts tagged 'roses'
It’s the end of June and we are getting excited about Hampton Court Flower Show which starts next week. One of the specialties of the show is the grand display of roses as well as the Rose of the Year award. Roses are at their very best at this time of year, and, we challenge any gardener not to fall in love with their variety, beauty and scent. Gardeners have cherished roses for hundreds of years. As early as 500 BC, Confucius wrote about roses in the Imperial gardens, and there were over 200 volumes of books about roses in the emperor’s library. During the Han dynasty the popularity of rose gardening began to threaten the take over of agricultural land to the point where an imperial order demanded they be ploughed back into the soil.
This long history of rose growing has seen a steady revival in recent years since expert gardeners such as David Austin began to introduce roses, blending the characteristics of old fashioned roses with modern demands for repeat flowering and a wide range of colours. Its not just garden beauty that roses bring us. They can also contribute to our wellbeing in other ways.
Many uses were recorded in Persia over 2000 years ago, and in 75 AD Pliny the Elder listed 32 diseases the roses could be used to cure. Rose oil can nourish mature skin and help with wrinkles, and manage hormones, grief and emotional distress or depression. Rose petals are known to be antiseptic, and Chinese tea made of dried rose buds can help with flatulence, and stomach pains and cramps. Rose hips have astringent properties and have been used to treat colds, flu and gastric problems because of their vitamin content. How gratifying to know that flowers have such health giving powers. Roll on the festival of the rose!
We have noticed a bit of a push in the gardening community recently for gardeners to think about planting traditional and other rose varieties, even the Great British Garden Revival had an episode covering roses. When it gets to February the spotlight really shines on roses as one of the most bought items to celebrate St Valentine’s day. The contemporary tradition of giving red roses representing heart held love to a partner or sweetheart takes on enormous proportions. In Britain an estimated 800 million blooms are sold in the Valentine’s period. There are things to ponder though. By whom and where are these roses produced? Last year the Guardian reported on the ethics of Valentine’s roses. They found that 70% or so of the roses sold in Britain come from the Lake Naivasha area, placing great demands on the water resources in the area, and whilst being the major export earner for Kenya, the benefits for local flower pickers and industry workers was far less clear. Maybe turning back to British produced in-season flowers (after all who can produce British rose blooms in the middle of cold wet February conditions?!) as well as ethically produced roses is something to consider. There is a "fair flowers fair plants" label displayed on some blooms, which guarantees the product comes from growers who operate in a fair manner. There are also some florists and producers who are turning away from roses altogether and producing Valentine’s bouquet’s with British flowers such as early tulips grown in Lincolnshire, anemones and beautifully scented narcissi from Cornwall and the Scillies. Consider standing out from the rest this year and giving something other than roses for Valentines!