I’m delighted to feature another Flower of the Month guest post by photographer Katie Spicer today. For July, Katie takes a look at the beautiful rose, Queen of Flowers and the national emblem of England. Over to you Katie…
Carolyn Dunster of Simply Roses has created the most beautiful arrangement of roses especially for this month’s post.
“I wanted to create a large hand-tied posy that looked as if it had just been picked from an English garden or hedgerow at mid-summer, but using roses purchased at the flower market. These were David Austin’s Miranda which has the most amazing scent unlike most roses bred for the cut-flower industry, and sprays of Sweet Avalanche which I combined with tiny clippings of Rosa Ballerina picked judiciously from my own garden. Foraged cow parsley, red campion and Geranium robertianum or Herb Robert were used for an overblown blousy effect and the tight hydrangea heads repeat the form and shape of the roses and make the arrangement a lot more cost-efficient. Finally, the zinc jug which is my all-time favourite and most versatile container gives the arrangement a shabby-chic look that works well in both a traditional or contemporary interior.”
The rose most commonly symbolises love and passion. As a result of this. they make up the largest proportion of the £22 million spent on Valentine’s Day. Cleopatra used them in her seduction of Mark Anthony. She knew how to woo a man! The purple sails of her ship were drenched in a rose and neroli perfume so that the fragrant air would signal her arrival, before she had even alighted the ship. She invited him back to her boudoir where the floor was carpeted with knee-deep rose petals and other scented flowers. Crushing them underfoot as he crossed the room to be with her, their love was bound forever, swoon. Her mattress and pillows were said to be stuffed with rose petals. How truly decadent!
Cleopatra was not the only one to use roses on ships. The Romans used to adorn their war vessels with roses. They were also under the belief that wearing rose garlands at a feast would prevent drunkenness. I must try this one out sometime!
Roses are much much more than a pretty face though, as they are used as foods, medicines, cosmetics, in rituals and most well known in perfumery. There are three types of fragrances recognised: cabbage rose (R. centifolia), damask rose (R. damascena) and the tea rose (R. indica), so called not for their fragrance but because they were brought over from China in boxes along with imports of tea.
You can make rose petal jam, vinegar, pot pourri, syrup, rosewater, rose wine, rose drop candies and even crystallize them. If they have a powerful scent, then they are even more delicious to eat. ‘Cecile Brunner’, a buttonhole rose, works well as a crystallized flower.
In the old days, honey of roses was used for sore throats and mouth ulcers. The fresh petals were crushed with a little boiling water and then filtered. The liquid was then boiled with honey.
On the continent, rose vinegar is used for heat stroke. Dried rose petals are steeped in distilled vinegar and a cloth soaked in this concoction is applied to the head.
The essential oils can come from the flowers and leaves depending on the variety. Rose oil can reduce high cholesterol levels.
Rosewater is an antiseptic tonic and can be used to soothe dry, inflamed and sensitive skins and splashed on the eyes to ease conjunctivitis. It can reduce redness caused by enlarged capillaries as they have a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface.
The leaf can be infused and used as a tonic and astringent tea. You can also make a tea of rose petals to soothe a sore throat, and rosehip tea is often recommended in pregnancy.
Rose hips have approximately 20 to 60 times as much Vitamin C as oranges. This was discovered during the fruit shortages of WWII and the government highlighted their importance and told people to harvest as many as possible as a substitute source of Vitamin C. They also have antioxidant, astringent, anti-viral and diuretic properties and can be used as a mild sedative and antidepressant.
Carolyn is not only a talented florist and garden designer, but she also produces wonderful cosmetics and creations from her delicious rose recipes. For the most successful preparations in the kitchen, it’s best to grow the sweetly scented varieties such as old fashioned variety ‘Rosa mundi’, moss rose ‘William Lobb’, bourbon rose ‘Louise Odier’. climbing rose ‘Cecile Brunner’ or David Austin’s highly scented Gertrude Jekyll. It’s best to gather them on a dry morning using only the freshest and most scented varieties.
Flowers by Carolyn Dunster at www.simplyroses.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | 0207 700 5566
(Words & Images : Katie Spicer Photography)