by guest blogger Nan De Grove
“A rose is a rose is a rose” according to Gertrude Stein. Maybe so, but the rose, queen of the garden, expresses a rich variety of moods and sentiments. Summer roses are plentiful, with their cycles of blooming and resting through the warm months. They speak of romance, weddings and merriment. But as they days grow short and the leaves fall the roses have a different tone. Now, with frosts and cold sure to come, each bloom could be the last, and October roses speak of impermanence, mortality and leave-taking.
These late blooms are treasured jewels of the garden as perennials and annuals planted in early summer have given up the ghost. With the cool nights, the colors, especially of the pink varieties, deepen, and the fragrance becomes more intense. The rose hips that remain after the blooms drop can be gathered for rose hip tea, a healing potion for winter blues, and the petals saved for potpourri.
Rose Anna’s Recipe for Pot-pourri: To a basin of dried roses, add a handful of marjoram, lemon thyme, rosemary and lavender, dried lemon and orange rind, six bay leaves, half an ounce of clove and a teaspoon or allspice. Mix together and stir occasionally. You may also add a few drops of essential oils of rose, rosewood, frankincense or others you like. This recipe is from 1895.
Rose petals can also be used to make rosary beads: Put a pound of deep red rose petals in a pot with just enough water to cover. Simmer but don’t boil for several hours until the mixture forms a thick paste. Let stand overnight, then form into beads and pierce each bead with an embroidery needle. This technique also makes lovely necklaces and crowns.
Roses petals are used in cooking, such as the cardamom rice pudding with pistachios and rose petals found in Jerusalem, a spectacular cookbook by the Israeli and Palestinian team, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Best to buy the book, it has so much delicious to offer, but the pudding recipe can be found online right here:
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.
— from To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, Robert Herrick, 1591-1674
Nan De Grove is a gardener, painter and astrologer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.