Posted by: briellethefirst | January 5, 2014




Don Juan red rose in the garden

Don Juan red rose by the garden path

Rose as part of the Herb-a-Week series!? Yup. Besides its use in potpourri, perfumes and cosmetics it has also been used in foods and confections. Besides, a garden just doesn’t seem compleat without a rose in it. They come in all sizes, manners and many colours, too. Some ramble and sprawl, some climb, some stay small and shy. You can even have one or more trained into a tree form with smaller ‘fairy’ sized cousins planted around their feet in your garden or a big pot. And the colours! From pure white to ivory to yellow, salmon, pink, lavender-ish red and some reds so dark they look black!  There’s even some that are white with red edges and some that are candy-striped and streaked. Many hybrids look pretty but don’t have a strong scent. I get the ones with a good smell, since that’s at least 1/2 of why I want roses.

Apparently most root-stocks don’t do well in Florida and some other places, so if you’re having problems keeping them alive try a bush that’s grafted onto sturdier roots. Nematodes are usually the culprit. Just make sure to cut back any ‘suckers’ that grow from the roots so the rootstock doesn’t overpower the variety you wanted. A reputable nursery will be able to tell you more about this.

We always had roses in the yard and weren’t as concerned with the variety as long as it looked and smelled pretty. When Mom moved to Arizona she loved that we had roses blooming at random warm spots in winter, especially Christmas and Easter. The pink one out front was always Dad’s favourite, it was named Duchess or Countess someting-or-other…wish I could remember! When it bloomed the fragrance filled the neighbourhood. One year we ran out of room for onions in the garden so, since they were small, we tucked them under the roses. That year we hardly had any aphid problems, so we kept planting onions under the roses. Years later I discovered companion planting in a book titled Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte.

Miniature rose growing through lavender

Miniature rose growing through lavender

Even if your garden is small or limited to pots you can grow roses. One year my grandmother gave us a couple of miniature ‘fairy’ roses. There wasn’t much information on them so we played it by ear. They went into large clay pots and got careful attention at first. Eventually they would learn to fare for themselves, getting water and pruning when we remembered or they started looking poorly. After a couple of years one died in an accident but the other cheerfully greeted visitors in front of a huge asparagus fern for at least another decade and supplied my mother with miniature roses and buds for dried arrangements.

Miniature rosebush blooming among lavender and onion flowers

Miniature rosebush blooming among lavender and onion flowers

The petals are used in potpourri, perfumes, candies, teas, jellies, sauces and jewelry. Right, jewelry! My Mom was always doing cool stuff that would keep us amused and out from under-foot for hours. This is just another of those things she would do when we could gather enough petals. Red petals make black beads but other colours make tolerable browns. You can mix them separately and marble them together for an interesting look. Rose beads were popular with Victorians and as they are worn your body warmth releases their scent.

4c chopped Rose Petals.

1c Water

A few rusty nails, (from the garage, not the bar) *optional* to make the beads darker.

Barely cover the petals and nails with water and simmer *DON’T BOIL!* If you use an iron pot you don’t need the nails. Turn off the heat and leave the stuff for 8 hours or overnight, then simmer for an hour again. Add water occasionally so it doesn’t dry out and repeat until you have a pulp that resembles paper-mache.

Form the pulp into beads and let them dry until they can hold their shape, then poke a hole in them with a large needle and thread them onto waxed dental floss. Move them around occasionally so they don’t stick to the floss.

This can be modeled into just about any shape, but keep in mind they will shrink. Larger beads will take longer to dry. Try this with other flowers or even herb leaves. Leaves will take a bit more to break down into pulp, but you can make interesting potpourri jewelry this way.

Roses have been used to used to convey messages for centuries. The most readily recognized is a single or a dozen red roses to say “I love you” or I’m sorry”. Beyond that there is the Language of Flowers that makes the message a little clearer. A rose of any kind can mean Beauty and love. A rosebud can mean youthful beauty.

Yellow Rose

Yellow Rose

A yellow rose can mean jealousy.

White roses

White roses

A white rose can mean  purity or silence, especially if it’s in a vase on a table or carved or painted on the ceiling, often as a full-blooming rose with 2 buds. This gave rise to the term “sub rosa”, literally ‘under the rose’,  or a warning to keep a secret.

There’s so much to do with roses, so have fun!


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