Monday, 1 April 2013

A short history of the rose;

Roses, Roses and more roses, the air shimmers with scent and colour. Titania

Roses have been around  a long time,  from fossil evidence found, about for 35 million years.
Today we can count 30’000 varieties. Roses have the most complicated family tree of any known flower species.

The cultivation of roses most likely began in Asia around 5000 years ago. They have been part of the human experience ever since and mentions of the flower are woven into a great many tales from the ancient world.

In Greek Mythology it was Aphrodite who gave the Rose her name. The godess of flowers chloris created the rose.
Chloris enlisted the help of Aphrodite to give the Rose beauty;
Dionyisus added nectar to give the rose a sweet scent;
The three graces gave the rose, charm, brightness and joy;
Zephyr the westwind blew away the clouds, so that
Apollo the sun god  could make the rose bloom…the creation of the Rose.

In ancient Hindu legends, Brahma, the creator of the world and Vishnu, the protector of the world had an argument whether the Lotus or the rose was more beautiful. Vishnu said the rose is more beautiful, Brahma said it was the Lotus. Brahma had never seen a rose, but when he saw one he changed his mind. As a reward he created a  beautiful bride  for Vishnu called Lakshmi. She was created from 108 large  and 1008 small rose petals.

In Crete, frescoes dating  back to 1700 BC, showing a pink rose with five petals.

Tombs in Egypt have revealed wreaths from flowers with roses among them.
In the tomb of Hawara, the wreath dates  to about AD 170 and represents the oldest preserved record of a rose species.

In the Roman empire the starving  peasants were forced to grow roses instead of food. Bath and fountains were filled with rose water and they sat on carpets of rose petals. Rose petals were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes and  to make perfume. 

During the fifteenth century, the families fighting to control England used the rose as a symbol. The white rose represented York, and the red rose symbolized Lancaster. Not surprisingly, the conflict between these factions became known as the War of the Roses.

In the seventeenth century roses and rose water were used as legal tender, as barter in the markets, as well as payments for taxes to the royalty from the commoners.
Napoleons wife Josephine establishes a collection of  250 rose varieties at  her estate  and chateau Malmaison.
P.J. Redoute painted his famous water colour collection “Les Roses”  one of the finest botanical illustrations, in the rose garden of Malmaison.

Cultivated roses weren't introduced into Europe until the late eighteenth century. These Roses came from China and were repeat bloomers. They were of great interest to hybridizers who no longer had to wait  for their roses to bloom once a year.

Today  all roses  are divided into two groups. The old roses,  cultivated in Europe before 1800. Modern roses began to be cultivated in England and France around the turn of the
19th century.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, all roses in Europe were shades of pink or white. The red  rose came from China around 1800. 
Bright yellow roses entered the palette around 1900. 

Believe it or not: 
The rose and the thorn, and sorrow and gladness are linked together. Saadi

©Photos from my garden/ Text


  1. Lovely roses all but especially the frilly pink ones. I am a sucker for frilly pink roses, especially if they smell good. I bet yours smell delicious! And this is the first time i have heard the story of Lakshmi. So glad i stopped by today ; )

  2. Julie, thank you for stopping by. I think scent is a must have for roses. Mine, I buy for their delicious scent, and secondly for the flowers which are generally beautiful and matching the fragrance.

  3. Roses always strike me as a 'garden master' bloom, something only an expert can grow. The pale yellow and peach or coral roses are the ones that charm me. My sole rose bush is a Double Pink Knockout Rose (I need the hardy type).

    Unfortunately the rabbits and I went head-to-head, and they mowed the poor thing to within 6 inches of its life. Now it hides behind a metal fence in the 'Sun Garden', still struggling to recover from 2 episodes of bunny carnage. I'm hopeful for this new season.

    1. Shyrlene, some Roses do well in my garden, especially in early spring and autumn into winter. Summer is to hot and humid, which bring white mould and other diseases. I would have given up a long time ago if I were not hooked on them. From time to time replacement is needed as they flower nonstop and get worn out!

  4. I adore roses and every now and then I try them in pots...they do grow in Darwin but not well and the Wet usually "does them in". I love your photos!

    Pauleen at Tropical Territory
    A to Z 2013

    1. Pauleen, the tropics have their own beauties!

  5. Liebe Trudi, jetzt habe ich doch glatt geglaubt, ich wüsste vieles über die Rosen, aber nun habe ich neu dazu gelernt, dass die gelbe Rosenfarbe erst um 1900 bei uns aufgetreten ist. Frau lernt nie aus ;-) ! Wachsen in deinem Garten eigentlich auch Alte Rosen? Oder ist dafür das Klima zu heiss und feucht? Ich freue mich auch auf die Rosenblüte, die wird dieses Jahr wahrscheinlich sehr viel später ausfallen durch den Pflanzenumzug. Zum Teil sehe ich noch gar kein Spriessen, aber ich hoffe, dass doch einige anwachsen und dann irgendwann mal blühen. Wie heisst wohl die erste Schönheit in diesem Post?
    Häb's guet und liebi Grüess, Barbara