By Nan DeGrove
In my Colorado garden roses begin to bloom in June, or sometimes May, and keep going right through Hallowe’en and even well into November, long after other flowers have given up the ghost. Summer’s roses are festive and celebratory, blooming in wild abundance. Opulent and seductive, they speak of flirtation, romance, weddings, and garden evenings. But autumn roses have their own poetry, and a mood of sweet melancholy; they whisper of change coming, of leave-taking and impermanence. The old garden varieties send out impossibly long arching canes, reaching for the sunlight. Colors deepen, with the cold nights, and each bloom is precious. Without the intense heat, they last longer, and I pick as many as I can to fill the house. When they drop their petals, as soon they must, their lovely red hips remain for winter teas and food for birds. And of course, if we save their petals we can make potpourri to scent the house in winter, and give to friends.
Gather as many roses as possible and dry them. Add some whole buds and leaves, too. I like to include other flowers for color, like calendula, cornflowers and stock, along wit herbs like lavender, thyme, rosemary, and basil, as well as spices like clove and alspice. Orange or lemon peel are nice, too. Add some essential oils to boost the scent and mix it all in a bowl, then transfer to a covered jar and store in the dark for a few weeks. There are no rules really; only that rose petals are the base. If you don’t have your own, you can buy them in any herb shop.