Monday, May 7, 2012

The Rose

Photo: A Hybrid Tea Rose from my garden~ Throughout history, mankind has had a love affair with roses and they are perhaps one of the oldest flowering plants. Roses have been found in fossils dating 70 million years ago, indicating that they were growing where the dinosaurs tread. They were in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, and their image appears on Egyptian tombs. Roses were a significant part of Chinese medicine and by the Middle Ages they were used medicinally by Monks throughout Europe as well. The name of the theater where Shakespeare produced his plays was ‘The Rose’ (1567) and he often makes reference to them in this works. Apparently the rose is a rock star! Hybrid Tea Roses with their sturdy stems were discovered in a garden patch in 1864 and by 1879 were introduced by Henry Bennet as a new breed of rose. Tea Roses are familiar to everyone… they are used in flower arrangements and prized for their color and scent with large petals that slowly open to reveal perfection. The most popular rose of the 20th century was the Peace Rose developed by Francis Meilland in 1935. It remained unnamed until the April 29, 1945 fall of Berlin which was considered the end of WWII… thus the name. Although entirely worth the efforts, the lovely the Tea Rose is fussy and prone to diseases which require applications of chemicals to produce healthy flowers and foliage. Recently the extraordinary work of Mr. William Radler changed the rose world. Radler bought his first rose for 49 cents when he was nine and by age 17 had won prestigious awards at Milwaukee’s Rose show. In the seventies he began research to create a new species of disease resistant, ever blooming roses and twenty two years later his Knockout Rose was made available to an eager public. Knock Out roses are easy to grow and require no special care. And although the blooms are not as spectacular as a single Tea, they appear in abundance with a bloom cycle that will continue until first frost. They are winter hardy, heat tolerant, and grow to be the size of a shrub. Roses are available everywhere however I recommend buying one that has been sheltered from the horrific winds which have burned so many nursery plants this year. Whether a Hybrid Tea or a Knockout, a rose would make a perfect Mother’s Day gift… especially if it is planted for her.