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Rose Awareness Week aims to celebrate the beauty of roses and their versatility in the garden. I love roses and their smell. There is such a variety, and I will often choose one with a name that means something to me. As a child there were always roses in the garden.
I was amazed to read that the Rose (genus Rosa), from the same family (Rosaceae) as apples and crab apples, has a very long history and fossil evidence dates back 35million years. Petrify rose wreaths have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. The cultivation of this magnificent flower began around 5000 years ago in China and today there are over 300 species worldwide and thousands of cultivars and hybrids.
Roses (genus Rosa) predominantly a native flower in Asia, with a small number of species native to America and a few to Europe and West Africa. Thought to be the oldest living rose bush, more than 1000 years old continues to bloom on the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany producing pink flowers every May.
The rose is both delicate and sharp with its fragile petals and its tough stem with it defensive thorns in a wide range of colours and shapes. Wild roses have only five petals whereas cultivated rises usually have multiple sets of overlapping petals. Rose flower sizes range from tiny 0.5inch in diameter to large hybrid varieties measuring up to 33 inches in diameter.
Roses are available in a great many types from shrubs and bushes, ground covering, climbing and rambling and trees. With flowers from a single bud or multiple buds from one stem.
Hybrid tea roses are some of the most popular roses identified by their long, straight stems and large pointed blooms. These fragrance flowers are ideal for cut flowers.
Shrub roses or Polyanthas are a hardy compact shaped rose variety, with clusters of small flowers.
Climbing roses are types of rose shrubs that have long flexible stems allowing for these to be trained or encouraged and supported into vertical shapes.
Rambling roses though similar to Climbing roses they are more vigorous climbers and provide a cluster of small flowers.
Tree roses are a spectacular type of rose bush that look like a small flowering tree.
Floribunda roses a result of crossing a hybrid tea and a polyantha rose. These have clusters of flowers and are repeat flowering.
Patio roses these compact roses are ideal for growing in a container producing clusters of repeat flowering of small flowers.
Ground covering roses these produce wide, low growth covering more area of ground.
There are six main rose colours, white, yellow, orange, pink, purple and red but each of these colours have a huge range of various shades and variations to the main colour including 9 varieties of Black rose. These are deep red colour which darkens and can appear black for certain angles. Cultivation has created variegated, mottled, striped, coloured tipped and even different coloured petals in one bloom called rainbow roses. The first recorded use of rose as a colour name in English was in 1382.
Each colour has different meanings:
White: actually, are not white they do not have any colour pigment. The air spaces interspersed within their petals reflect all the visible wavelengths of lights making the petals appear white. For centuries white roses have symbolised purity, innocence, true love, hope, and remembrance.
Yellow: in the past have represented jealousy but the warm happy colour is more commonly associated with symbolising friendship, affection, excitement and joy.
Orange: this bright and cheerful colour symbolises Passion, Desire and Fierce Love
Pink: this warm colour has come to symbolise elegance, appreciation, Admiration, happiness and Joy
Purple/Lavender: one of the rarer colours of rose it symbolises courage, bravery and wisdom.
Red: the more romantic and popular roes colour it symbolises Love, Passion and Longing
The rose holds a profound symbolic meaning among flowers, representing power, celebration, love, beauty, and serving as a central theme in myths, legends, literature, art, songs, and poetry worldwide. It is even designated as the national flower in 10 countries.
In ancient Greek mythology, the rose is intricately connected to Adonis, the lover of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. In one version of the story, Adonis is fatally wounded by a boar during a hunting expedition and dies in Aphrodite’s embrace. Depending on the account, Adonis’s blood seeps into the ground, turning a white rose red, or Aphrodite’s blood, as she rushes to his side, colors the white rose red. The white rose itself originates from Aphrodite, who was born from sea foam, and wherever the foam touched the earth, a white rose bloomed.
The ancient Romans also embraced similar symbolism and narratives surrounding the rose, associating it with their god of love, Venus. Both cultures incorporated flowers in various festivals, with rose petals being strewn along the streets. In ancient Rome, newly married couples often adorned themselves with rose crowns, which led to the name “Rosa gallica” being attributed to the flower.
According to Roman legend, the rose’s origin stems from a moment when Flora, the goddess of flowers, was struck by Cupid’s arrow, causing her to mispronounce the word “Eros” as “Ros.” However, it is worth noting that “Eros” is already an anagram for “Rose.” Romans utilized roses for various purposes, including garlands worn by revelers at banquets, cosmetic products like rose oil, and decorations for walls, as well as incorporating them into food.
Roses have held significant symbolism throughout history and religious narratives. In the Garden of Eden, they were described as thornless, representing pure beauty. However, after Adam and Eve’s expulsion, thorns appeared on the roses, symbolizing the consequences of their actions.
In early Christianity, the white rose became a symbol of the Virgin Mary’s purity, while the red rose represented Christ’s sacrifice and the shedding of his blood. These symbolic associations deepened believers’ connection to their faith, evoking contemplation of divine mysteries through the delicate yet profound nature of roses. The profound symbolism of roses extends beyond religious narratives and historical contexts, reaching into the realm of political and cultural significance, as seen in the emblem of the Tudor Rose that emerged from the War of the Roses in fifteenth-century England.
The emblem of the Tudor Rose originated from two roses with historical roots in the English civil wars of the fifteenth century, famously known as the War of the Roses. During this conflict, the red rose symbolized the house of Lancaster, while the white rose represented the house of York. Following the war, the Tudor rose was created, merging the white and red roses together, symbolizing unity.
Even today, it continues to serve as a symbol of unity and holds significance in heraldic imagery associated with royalty. The iconic emblem of the Tudor Rose not only symbolized unity but also represented the end of the bitter rivalry between the houses of Lancaster and York, bringing about a new era of stability and peace in England. Its enduring presence in heraldic imagery associated with royalty reflects its lasting legacy and the profound impact it had on shaping the nation’s history.
Alice in Wonderland
The subject of Alice in Wonderland has served as a profound inspiration for numerous artistic works across various mediums. Within Lewis Carroll’s novel, roses hold a prominent thematic presence. One such example is found in a captivating lithograph where the head and hands of a figure are artfully depicted using circles of roses. These intricate floral circles symbolize feminine beauty and the timeless quality of eternal youth. Through this artistic portrayal, the artist captures the essence of the novel’s enchanting world and highlights the significance of roses as a recurring motif throughout Carroll’s narrative.
So, let us celebrate this versatile and elegant much-loved flower this June. Here are my contributions and I have painted a beautiful purple rose in water mixable oils, which blooms near my local lake the smell is amazing and I look forward to getting to this part of the walk just to “stop and smell the Roses” literally and take lots of photos for inspiration.