Taking Time to Smell the Roses

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June is National Rose Month. How much do you really know about the blossom that’s been our national flower since 1986?

In celebration of National Rose Month, here are a few fun facts about roses you probably never knew:

They’re Ancient

Roses have been with us for a very long time, In fact archaeologists discovered a fossilized rose in Colorado that they believe to be 35 million years old. The earliest written archive about roses is from China and dates back more than 7,000 years ago.

In addition, roses are the oldest species of plant to be grown for decoration. Ancient Romans cultivated roses to decorate their buildings and furniture; they even laid rose-petal carpets.

Today, the oldest rose bush in the world grows on the Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany. It’s believed to be more than 1,000 years old, having been planted by King Louis the Pious in 815 AD.

The cathedral was destroyed by Allied bombers during World War II, yet the roots of the bush miraculously survived and the plant blossomed among the ruins.

They’re Everywhere

According to the National Garden Bureau, there are more than 150 different species of roses, but only a few are used in modern-day gardens. Modern hybridization began in Western Europe in the 18th Century, and today there are at least 11,000 existing varieties of hybrid roses (with more being bred every year).

Roses thrive on every continent except Antarctica, and are the world’s most popular flower. The following video clip visits 75 of the most beautiful rose gardens on the planet:

Not surprisingly, there are many different classes of roses, which sometimes can lead to a bit of confusion. The most commonly sold in the US are:

Hybrid Tea Roses — these are the classic, long-stemmed varieties. They’re also the most common type of rose. (When most gardeners think of roses, they’re thinking of hybrid teas.)

Grandiflora Roses — similar to Hybrid Tea, but usually have several blooms per stem.

Floribunda Roses — these more compact and multi-flowered roses were developed by crossing hybrid teas with polyantha roses.

Miniature roses — smaller specimens, often grown in containers as gifts and marketed as houseplants. Available in all the Hybrid Tea colors.

Climbing Roses — All classes of roses have “climbing” forms, whereby the canes of the plants grow to be much longer and more flexible than the normal “bush” forms.

Landscape or Shrub Roses, of which Knock Out roses are the most popular.

Those Revolutionary Knock Outs

Knock Out roses are the result of single-minded research by William Radler, a retired botanical garden director. Radler set out to breed a rose that he could grow in his suburban Milwaukee garden with minimum maintenance and shelter from USDA zone 4 winters.

The result, the pink “Knock Out” rose, was hybridized before 1995 and first marketed almost 20 years ago. Covered with bunches of single or loose double blooms, the Knock Out helped popularize roses as landscape elements.

Radler’s rose is a largely disease-resistant shrub that needs no winter protection in USDA zones 4 to 9. Available in a variety of colors, some of the newer Knock Outs are hardy to zone 3.

The Knock Out rose revolutionized the rose industry and still dominates the market.

Source: SF Gate

They’re Meaningful

The rose has long been used as a symbol. In ancient Greece, the rose was closely associated with the goddess Aphrodite.

Following the Christianization of the Roman Empire, the rose became identified with the Virgin Mary. The rose symbol eventually led to the creation of the rosary and other devotional prayers in Christianity.

The United States, United Kingdom, and ten other countries have all designated some variety of rose as their national flower.

In addition, the various colors of rose have all come to hold special meaning. Check it out:


The Vintage News

The Garden Diary

National Garden Bureau

The Washington Post

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