By Dr. Suni Blar, Consulting Rosarian
From May/June 2019 edition of American Rose
Each fall as I cut the last blooms of the year and dress up my rosebushes with heaps of mulch for the long winter, my heart fills with sadness at the thought of the long winter months with no roses. Living in a Zone 5 microclimate in New Jersery pretty much accounts for seven long months without roses!
So what is it about roses that makes my heart sing with joy and happiness, I ask myself. First and foremost, it is the sheer beauty and exquisiteness of the bloom that captivates me. Even a single rose in an arrangement makes it stand out and score a perfect 10. No surprise then that it is the queen of all flowers and exchanged with much passion on Valentine’s Day. The rose is the most expensive flower sold in the florist trade. Be it a birthday, an engagement, a wedding or a funeral, the rose accompanies a person from birth to death. It has been a longstanding tradition in Europe and America to plant roses by gravestones. Roses often outlive their owners being hardy shrubs. Certain varieties of roses have been recorded as being as old as a thousand years! Beauty and longevity, don’t we wish we had it too!
Another feature about roses that captivates me is their diverse color and flower forms. Roses come in a variety of flower forms such as single, semi-double, double, fully double, cupped, quartered, decorative etc. Some of the hulthemias remind me of dogwoods, some decorative forms mimic dahlias and yet others remind me of daylilies. Roses come in all colors of the rainbow except blue. I can’t think of any other flower that comes in such diverse flower form and color!
Roses also have a diverse habit of growth. This allows for many different landscape applications. They can be as small and compact as a miniature or polyantha rose, spreading as a ground cover, grown as a large shrub or trained to climb arbors and walls as large-flowered climbers and ramblers.
Fragrance is yet another powerful feature that sets a rose apart from other flowers. Nothing beats the fragrance of OGRs and DARs in the flower world! A single bloom of a fragrant rose can fill an entire room with a heady perfume. When I give away vases of roses to my friends, I always put in a few fragrant blooms. Some of my favorite fragrant roses are 'Jude the Obscure', 'Sweet Surrender', 'Memorial Day', 'Scentimental' and 'Firefighter'. Roses have been used in the perfume industry and in aromatherapy for centuries.
Rose petals and hips also have been used in the food industry to make rose tea, rose water, rose salsa, rose cookies and rose candy. Rose hips have been used in medicinal preparations for centuries. Rose hips are also used in flower arrangements and wreaths. Some roses that I grow for hips include 'Ballerina' and 'Carefree Beauty'. They are the highlight of my fall rose arrangements.
Having a large perennial and cutting garden has allowed me to grow and enjoy all types of perennials such as bearded irises, peonies, roses, Asiatic lilies, daisies and asters to name a few. Of all these, I love roses the most as they have the longest bloom time in my garden from May to October. No other flower can beat that!