"What's in a name? That which we call a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
These words appeared in Romeo and Juliet. Roses have been inspiring Poets, Writers, Painters and Lovers for centuries.
Roses originally came from China. In the Silk Road days of Marco Polo they were brought to Europe and became instantly popular. Can you believe an entire society never having experienced the simple pleasure of smelling a Rose? Let alone gardens, vases and armloads of these beauties readily available.
I once had a collection of over 200 Antique, Heritage and Modern Roses, that brought me much joy. Walking through the garden smelling the heady fragrance on a warm summer day. Oh it is with me now, and that was almost a decade ago! I had Roses growing on Fences, Trellis's, Arbors, Pergolas, sometimes mixed with Honeysuckle, Solanum, Grapes and Jasmine. I grew them organically with an elixir of bone meal, blood meal, sea kelp and mulched with aged Cedar and Seaweed Mulch. Regular watering and plenty of bark mulch equaled a recipe for success. Often times at sunset I would release lady bugs, they loved to snack on aphids.
January is the month to start thinking about your Rose collection. If you do not have one, it may be time to start! David Austin was truly instrumental in bringing back the old Roses. Some of my favorites for fragrance are Gertrude Jekyl, Golden Celebration, Faust, Evelyn, Sharifra Asma, and Ambridge. These are all very easy to grow, and readily available at finer nurseries. My all time favorite rose, is a heritage rose, hard to find or even come by, it is called Souvenir de la Ma Maison. The story of this Rose is an interesting one. An Englishman was a guest at Empress Josephine's home in France. He was so taken with this Rose that he pinched a cutting, put it in his pocket and brought it back to England. He bred this rose, and then shared with his other Rosarian friends. Once in a while I see this rose at a specialty nursery, and think of this story. This rose has petals that feel like the richest satin, and smell like the sweetest corner of heaven.
A few books on Rose gardening will help you to understand the many varieties and their growth habits. What I did find, in most of the books is that most descriptions are created from studies done in the Northeast and in England. In the Southeast or on the West coast these Rose bushes can be double the size the book says they will be, so keep that in mind.
My Roses have brought me much pleasure. I used to cut the blossom heads and put them on the dashboard of my car in the morning and all day long as I would get in and out of the car I was greeted by the sweet, spicy and fruity fragrance of these divine beauties. At the end of the day I would scoop them up, and bring them indoors to a long porcelain dish on the library table, and there they would finish drying. I would do this everyday, until Rose season was over and at the start of the holiday season my friends would receive Rose potpourri from my garden.
One last tip, when you are smelling a Rose take a moment and check for bees then lightly blow into the Rose this heats up the petals and releases a much more intense fragrance.
The Roses featured in this article are growing in my garden in Bath, Maine. These beauties bring me joy every day.
Would you like to explore the idea of incorporating Roses into your landscape? Give us a call 207.653.9334 or drop us an email today. Garden Consults are fun and affordable.