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Roses-Queen of the Flowers

A bright, cheerful sunny morning is made perfect by the roses of summer. Doubtless, roses are the Queen of the Flowers.

Roses are available in almost any color you want with the exception of true black and blue. Originally roses in the western world were white and pink. The reds and the yellows weren’t even around until the 1700’s.

Everywhere you turn roses are in the spotlight. In the movie “American Beauty,” Mena Suvari was covered with rose petals. The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City is offering what it calls a ‘Romantic Bath’ with rose petals.

During a picnic in 1914 at Longwood, Pierre S. du Pont had harlequins scatter roses over the guests.

Now you can buy roses from the historic rose garden at Sonnenberg in Canandaigua, NY. They’ll only be available from Arena’s Florist in Rochester. The blooms will be carefully selected and used for exclusive arrangements, the “Sonnenberg Rose Bowl,” available in two sizes.

There’s something so appealing about freshly picked roses from the garden. If you want first-rate blooms--cut at the peak of perfection--grow your own. It isn’t hard to do if you choose carefree, disease-resistant varieties. Ones highly recommended by the Chicago Botanic Garden include the white ‘Albo-plena’ rugosa rose. In the Explorer rose series, they gave high rankings to ‘Jean Munk’ and ‘John Davis,’ both of which are medium pinks. Red ones showing resistance to downy mildew were ‘Assinboine,’ ‘Champlain,’ and ‘Henry Kelsey.’

For those interested in growing their own roses, I highly recommend a new book published by Gramercy Books, a division of Random House Value Publishers. “The Complete Rose Encyclopedia-A Guide to the Selection, Care, and Beauty of Roses for Your Garden” is by Nico Vermeulen. This lushly color-illustrated guide takes the guesswork out of choosing roses for your climate. There are step-by-step instructions on pruning and caring for your plants, and ideas on how to keep them in bloom. Organic gardeners are sure to love this book, since it provides tips on handling disease and pest problems without the use of chemicals. With so many kinds of roses available, making choices can be confusing. But this book makes it easy and simple. The A-Z encyclopedia features around 800 rose varieties with a color photo of each along with a complete history and description of each. This is destined to be the most-used book on your garden bookshelf.

Roses don’t stand alone in the garden. Vermeulen makes that clear by
suggesting companion plants for the different varieties. “Landscape With Roses” by Jeff Cox goes one step further. This groundbreaking book
tells how to use roses for foundation plantings, ground covers,
containers, trellises and walkways. Along with landscaping advice, he
offers valuable design ideas. Cox, HGTV series host, is an internationally
recognized rosarian. Published by the Taunton Press, this volume is
lavishly illustrated with color photos by Jerry Pavia.

If you’re using your garden-fresh roses for creating bouquets as gifts, you may want to be aware of the meanings the different colors carry. Red stands for love and respect, while yellow represents gladness and joy. Light pink would be a good choice for ailing friends, as this hue expresses sympathy and admiration.

Long-stemmed roses are traditionally used in floral designs. However don’t overlook the many wonderful, short-stemmed ones that tend to grow in bunches.

If you grow lots of roses, you’ll probably want to buy a stem stripper to remove the thorns. Otherwise you may get stuck a few times when you’re arranging the stems. But that is a minor concern among flower lovers. Abraham Lincoln said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Roses are number one when it comes to literature. Poems about these revered blooms far outnumber those on other flowers. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Friendship is the breathing rose, With sweets in every fold.” Those interested in more poetry about roses can visit www.rosesinc.org.


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