Writing my way through the A-to-Z blogging challenge, I’ve tasked myself with creating a manifesto reflecting wonders, curiosities, and delights currently captivating me – all through the lens of unusual, obscure, or simply charming-to-me words.
R is for…
rosarian – a person who is fond of, develops, or cultivates roses
My claim as a rosarian is strictly as one who loves them; but that love is deep and wide, covering the physical and the spiritual and all the gardens between.
I have a particular fondness for creation tales, and roses, from the Greek perspective, is one of my favorites.
Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers (perhaps known to you more familiarly in her Roman guise as Flora), came upon the body of a nymph in the woods one day. Saddened, she decided to bring her back to life as a flower. She called upon the Three Graces who bestowed upon the flower brightness, joy, and charm. Aphrodite gave the flower beauty; Dionysus, god of wine, added a special nectar which created the beautiful intoxicating fragrance. She called upon Zephyrus, her husband and the god of the west wind, to blow away the clouds, so that Apollo might allow the Sun’s rays to open the flower’s petals. When done, they all agreed it was truly the Queen of Flowers. Aphrodite named it Rose, and dedicated it to her son, Eros, the god of love. To celebrate the Rose more widely, Aphrodite invited Iris and Eos to help announce this creation. Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, adopted the rosy color as part of her wardrobe, and Eos, the goddess of dawn, painted the morning sky with the rosy color.
Lovely story isn’t it, befitting such a lovely flower.
There are more than a hundred species or roses and thousands of cultivars. While there are a number of ways to classify roses, a helpful one divides them into three categories:
- wild or species (roses with a single layer of petals; this category includes wild roses and their close but cultivated relatives)
- old garden roses (cultivated roses that existed before the creation of the hybrid tea rose in 1867; excluding the species roses mentioned above)
- modern garden roses (the hybrid tea rose and later creations)
Far from being just ornamental, roses have long been used by many cultures for their medicinal and culinary properties. Leaves, petals, and fruit (rose hips) are all utlilized, both in their whole forms and in some way extracted. Rose water is lovely and subtle, and then there are the essential oils, concretes, and absolutes, all extracted from the flowers and used extensively.
Essential oils from roses are primarily made from two species of roses. Rose damascene (the damask rose) is widely grown in Syria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Iran, and China. Rosa centifolia (the cabbage rose) is more commonly grown in Morocco, France, and Egypt.
I’ve been working on a many-layered rose project for more than a year now, and one of the aspects of this has been wearing my hat as an aromatherapist/natural perfumer. I’ve been doing extensive blending, and much to my delight have been led down many garden paths and rabbit holes in the process. Many people don’t realize with oils the vast and sometimes subtle differences in scent that are the result of the things such as type of rose, where it’s grown, and conditions under which it grew. That’s the joy of being a perfumer or someone who enjoys working with oils – I’ve gathered a rather extensive library of different rose oils. Not only is their scent different, but as an energy worker, I’m able to tune into the different energetics.
Of course I’ve already admitted scent is hugely important to me, but that’s really only one of the layers. I’m much more interested in the sacred and spiritual aspects of flowers, their essences, and their oils.
Lynn Serafinn in her book The Garden of the Soul explores four flowers as representations of spiritual principles. She considers Rose as representing the principle of giving. I powerfully resonate with this:
“The Principle of Giving is all that emanates from you into the world. It is the very breath that you exhale into the universe, so that others may take it in and find their own life within it.”
Of course all flowers speak to us differently, and my sacred walk with roses may very well be on a different path than others. I think that matters not at all. Every thing around us has things to teach us, but we are fully responsible for how we integrate what we receive, and what we offer in return.
One of the lessons Roses have taught me, is beautifully described by Rumi:
The rose opens
And when it falls
I am unabashedly a rosarian – I will always walk the rose path and welcome the gifts of these flowers, both hidden and undeniably apparent.
What about you? Do you love roses? Are you ready to unfurl something just as the bud opens into full blossom? Do tell – you know I love to hear.
I like roses. They’re pretty and useful, but I cannot say that I’m a rosarian. I sometimes find the scent of roses to be overwhelming, cloying. However when it comes to looking great on bushes, they’ve got it going on.
LOL – that they do Ally!
I have rose bushes that my brother gave to my mother probably 60 years ago, and one I gave her 50 years ago. She’s been gone since 2006, but her roses still bloom each year.
Oh that’s incredible, and really lovely Beth!
I’m with Ally. I’m not a rosarian, although I appreciate all the different types and the variety of scents. (some of which are less cloying) I know I couldn’t grow them, as they take quite a bit of work; I have visited a number of rose gardens in various places though.
Roses often do require a bit of care, but they’re always lovely to look at when someone else does that part. Rose gardens are a wonderful way to enjoy them, and perhaps discover a few whose scent delights.
Let us form a bouquet! Total Rosarian here!!! I love that quote about the giving connection; I had no idea why I was so drawn to rose – an intensification came with meno so I had thought partly hormonal response, but that was also the time I was in seminary and reaching very high (deep…long…???) within as well as reaching out far…
Blessings of the petal upon your skin
soothing of the petal upon your heart
caressing of the petal upon your being
may the rose bring it all together as art.
What a beautiful blessing Yamini! I love hearing how your connection to roses intensified – how perfect.
Hi it’s Frances D from imjem.com
Thanks so much for all the visits you’ve made to and comments you have left at my blog.
Wow – your site is really quite something.
I’ll never look at roses quite the same again.
On to more of your posts!
Thanks for stopping by Frances – and continued happy A-to-Zing!
My dad was a florist and we had rose trees lining our front walkway for as long as I could remember. I’m afraid that I did not develop such a fondness for them. I, like Ally, think that sometimes the smell is overpowering. I do like the deep rich colors they can come in though. My favorite used to be yellow but lately it’s been the oranges. I do like the story of the beginning of the rose.
Maybe too much exposure isn’t such a good thing. I’m imagining have a florist in the family would be a fun thing, but perhaps when you grow up with that reality it just seems ordinary.
I love roses! I love everything about roses, their tightness, budness, ripeness, fullness, their scent! It’s a very highly charged symbol too – I remember Faust as he was dying when Mephistopheles gave him back his soul, that angels descended and the smell of roses was all about! Besides, churches and places of worship often have a rose stained window .. and other places not necessarily of worship. Rose petals adorning the bride and groom by their well wishers as they leave the church or the service ..
And for me the paradox of this thing of beauty with its thorns …
Roses, roses everywhere – makes this rosarian’s heart happy! And I find the thorn paradox fascinating as well. The Greek myth holds Aphrodite and Eros responsible for them as well.
I love yellow and white roses! so a partial rosarian 🙂 A lot of Indian sweet dishes use rose water, and also red rose petals as garnish…traditionally rose water is also sprinkled on guests at weddings and formal occasions…usage goes back many centuries, I think these recipes/traditions must have come to India with the Muslim invaders from central Asia. However it is also likely they were generated right there in India – because the Himalayas have native varieties of wild roses.
I wasn’t aware of the Greek creation myth for roses – such a lovely story!
I imagine at some point all cultures growing roses find their way to rose water. I remember the first time I had an Indian rice pudding made with rose water and cardamom – it was love at first spoonful.
I am useless in the garden – and roses do not thrive under my “tender loving care”. That doesn’t stop me from loving them though. I pinned that lovely rose painting and enjoyed your rose post x
Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au
S for Stop Procrastinating
Green thumbs are definitely not required to enjoy roses. 🙂
This is such an informative and interesting post, Deborah. The Greek tale on creation of rose is so fascinating. I have been to a Rose Garden and I was floored by the colors and varieties of roses that are available these days! You know, we add the rose petals or rose water in some Indian desserts and they add such lovely flavor and aroma.
A rose garden really can be an eye-opening experience – so many different beauties!
We have a large number of Indian restaurants in my city and I always try to remember to ask if they serve anything with rosewater – and it’s always a treat.
For some reason I really like rose-flavored things. So far I have tried rose chocolate and rose ice cream. Both were great!
The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales
I do too. A simple splash with sliced strawberries is nice as well.
My roses are just beginning to bloom. I am a rosarian from a long line of rose lovers. I have roses planted in my garden to honor the memory of each of these dear ones who have added so much beauty to my life.
Lovely post. Now… out to smell the roses.
What a beautiful practice Claire – that really touches my heart! And how lucky you are to have your roses beginning to bloom. Spring is still having a hard time pushing Winter out the door where I’m at.
My sister and I were just remembering how Nana (my great grandma) would always cut us a huge heirloom rose from her garden as we were leaving. She would wrap the stem in a wet paper towel. For some reason, that little touch always made me feel like those were the most special flowers in the world. Thanks for the post!
What a fabulous memory Melanie!
I love looking at roses and growing them. One of Ecuador’s big exports is roses but they are grown for beauty, not fragrance. They look amazing, some are huge and long and many have no scent. The ones with three to four foot-long stems are absolutely incredible and primarily export to China. Europe gets stems about two feet long and North America gets those with about a foot and a half. Each region based on the desires of the purchasing public.
Emily In Ecuador
That’s so interesting about different countries desiring different lengths. I’ve seen bouquets of the 3-4 foot tall roses and they look weirdly not-right to my eyes.
I knew about the lack of scent, and how the desire for longer lasting, and showier varieties, being produced for mass consumption has lessened and lessened the scent, with many scentless at this point. For a “nose-arian” rosarian, this is a sad thing.
I love roses- find them very graceful and elegant. I love using rosewater as a spraymist in summers. But other than that, the rose smell in perfumes, incense , etc is a bit too sweet and cloying for me. I love to look at roses and wild roses are my favourite as they grow with such abandon and in abundance.
R is for From Russia wih love #atozchallenge
I find rosewater a lovely thing to spray during summer as well, as well as spash on my face after cleansing too.
Perfumes and incense often use synthetic chemical laden “perfume” oils that aren’t natural essential oils, and that’s often the case with rose-scented items since the essential oils are rather expensive. That’s frequently why people say they don’t like rose-scented things, and can feel headache-y and overwhelmed.
But it’s also true that all our noses and our preferences are different and even natural rose oils can be too sweet and cloying for some folks.
I love wild roses as well – their lush blooming abandon always brings a smile to my heart.
Hi Deborah – love roses … we had beds of them at home as I grew up … delicious scents – but really started to appreciate the old roses, climbers etc when I spent time with my uncle in his last years – as he and his wife were great gardeners … they are such a rewarding plant – in so many ways – I often picked one or two for my mother – fresh flowers … cheers Hilary
Oh those sound like such lovely rose experiences Hilary.