I thought that since Spring is in the air and our thoughts are turning to the outdoors and all that the impending summer will bring us, what a better way than to kick it off with learning a bit about flowers; specifically the Tea Rose.
First, just a bit about roses in general. The rose is quite a popular flowering plant but it is considered a shrub. Most roses thrive in temperate climates, and in sub-tropic climates.
Roses have always been valued for their beauty, scent, and varied symbolisms.
History shows that even Romans and Greeks associated their goddesses with love and roses. Romans had interesting tactics such as affixing a rose to a door to symbolize that a secret or confidential meeting was taking place beyond the door. Christians also have great symbolism and use the rose to represent several things all religious in nature. The five petals of a rose symbolized that of the five wounds that Christ bore. Eventually Christians also used the red rose to signify the blood of Christ and Christian martyrs.
The Tea Rose itself is considered a rose that was cultivated before 1867, and that are derived from rosa odorata, this is a native from China that had very fragrant yellow or pink flowers. These flowers also had glossy leaves and pretty cup-shaped flowers. These Chinese roses also bloomed year round.
How the Tea Rose happened was the result of the crossing of two of the original China roses with various other roses named Bourbons and Noisette roses. The result of the crossing or the “breeding” of those roses begot the tea rose. These roses were much more tender and delicate than that of the old garden rose. The Tea rose also was a repeat- flowering rose and named because its fragrance was reminiscent of the tea in China. Colors ranged in white, yellow and pink pastels. The tiny petals rolled back at the edges and thus producing a tiny pointed tip. This was very unique.
By the late 1860’s the “La France Rose” was created by the making of a hybrid tea rose. It was created by mixing the Tea Rose with a simple perpetual rose, thus creating a hardier rose. The flowers were well-formed with large centered bulbs, with each single flower ending in a single beautiful bloom. This actually created the first new class of rose. The hybrid teas produced new and more beautiful colors such as: deep yellows, apricots, coppers, scarlet, lavenders, gray, and even a brown rose! This brought extreme popularity to the tea rose. By the 20th century the roses were abundant but they became quite costly for the average consumer.
So the general household gardener to the professional gardener wanted to grow them in their own landscapes.
The flower was very beautiful, but the greenery on the shrub left this plant one that most gardeners disliked due to the lack of its foliage. To add to that, the plant itself was very hard to maintain. It became a plant that the flower was indeed wanted but the average home gardener opted to grow other types of roses as they were much easier to grow.
Today the Tea Rose continues to be one of the most requested rose and is the floral industry’s main standard. The Tea Rose also continues to be grown as a staple in the formal garden.
The Tea Rose today, although has a multitude of uses, continues to be the subject of men’s boutonnières for weddings and proms. And for women it is normally found in wristlets for homecomings and proms as well.
Although roses are grown for their sheer beauty and their fragrance, roses are edible. The petals can produce syrup and this syrup is used to make fancy English scones. The rose hips (the “fleshy” part of the rose) can be made into jelly or jam and also be brewed for drinking tea. This tea has a high concentration of vitamin C.
So the Tea Rose with its humble beginnings in China, to its usage today with their delicate petals and wonderful scent, their small size, and range of beautiful colors is by far the most popular choice and running a close tie is its cousin the long stemmed rose bouquet.