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History of Roses and Rose Growing Tips

Have you ever wondered if what you know about rose is accurate? Consider the following paragraphs and compare what you know to the latest info on roses.

Roses have a long and colorful history. According to fossil evidence, the rose is 35 million years old. Today, there are over 30,000 varieties of roses and it has 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.

And there are so many beautiful stories that include roses through out the ages that we all can recognize.

Greek mythology tells us that it was Aphrodite who gave the rose its name, but it was the goddess of flowers, Chlloris, who created it. One day while Chlloris was cleaning in the forest she found the lifeless body of a beautiful nymph. To right this wrong Chlloris enlisted the help of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who gave her beauty; then called upon Dionysus, the god of wine, who added nectar to give her a sweet scent. When it was their turn the three Graces gave Chloris charm, brightness and joy. Then Zephyr, the West Wind, blew away the clouds so that Apollo, the sun god, could shine and make the flower bloom. And so the Rose was.

Rose picture In another story, an ancient Hindu legend, Brahma (the creator of the world) and Vishnu (the protector of the world) argued over whether the lotus was more beautiful than the rose. Vishnu backed the rose, while Brahma supported the lotus. But Brahma had never seen a rose before and when he did he immediately recanted. As a reward Brahma created a bride for Vishnu and called her Lakshmi she was created from 108 large and 1008 small rose petals.

Several thousands of years later, on the other side of the world in Crete , there are Frescoes which date to c. 1700BC illustrating a rose with five-pedaled pink blooms. Discoveries of tombs in Egypt have revealed wreaths made with flowers, with roses among them. The wreath in the tomb of Hawara (discovered by the English archaeologist William Flinders Petrie) dates to about AD 170, and represents the oldest preserved record of a rose species still living.

Roses later became synonymous with the worst excesses of the Roman Empire when the peasants were reduced to growing roses instead of food crops in order to satisfy the demands of their rulers. The emperors filed their swimming baths and fountains with rose-water and sat on carpets of rose petals for their feasts and orgies. Roses were used as confeti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume. Helliogabalus used to enjoy showering his guests with rose petals which tumbled down from the ceiling during the festivities.

During the fifteenth century, the factions 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 were in such high demand that roses and rose water were considered as legal tender. In this capacity they were used as barter in the markets as well as for any payments the common people had to make to royalty. Napoleon's wife Josephine loved roses so much she established an extensive collection at Chateau de Malmaison, an estate seven miles west of Paris . This garden of more than 250 rose varieties became the setting for Piere Joseph Redoute's work as a botanical illustrator and it was here Redoute completed his watercolor collection "Les Rose," which is still considered one of the finest records of botanical illustration.

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

From this introduction, experts today tend to divide all roses into two groups. There are "old roses" (those cultivated in Europe before 1800) and "modern roses" (those which 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. Our romantic symbol of the red rose first came from China around 1800. Unusual green roses arrived a few decades later.

Bright yellow roses entered the pallete around 1900. It was the Frenchman Joseph Permet-Ducher who is credited with the discovery. After more than 20 years of breeding roses in a search for a hardy yellow variety, he luck changed when one day he simply stumbled across a mutant yellow flower in a field. We have had yellow and orange roses ever since

The rose is a phenomenal plant and is rightly known as 'the world's favorite flower'. No other flower has ever experienced the same popularity that the rose has enjoyed in the last fifth years. In temperate climates, roses are more widely grown than any other ornamental plant, and as cut flowers they are forever in fashion.

It has been estimated that 150 million plants are purchased by gardeners worldwide every year, and sophisticated breeding programs have produced a plant that dominates the world's cut flower market; the annual crop is calculated in tons. Roses have also made a tremendous contribution to the perfume industry.

Roses boast an ancient lineage, and they are intricately entwined in our history and culture. As a motif, the rose has been and still is depicted in many national emblems. It has been adopted by countless political factions, and even by businesses and several international events. It is no wonder so many of the beautiful rose varietals are greatly appreciated and cultivated by hobby gardeners around the world.

Flowers that mix well with roses.

To begin with the dwarfs, for spring we can have Snowdrops, Muscari or Grape Hyacinths, winter Aconite, small Narcissus, and Scilla, or the dainty blue and white Chionodoxa. All these are short enough to do well under the branches of the rose trees.

For planting in the spaces between the trees (and for the first year or two these will be fairly large) such flowers as Forget-me-nots, spring Anemones, young Wallflowers, Aubrietia, and Violets can be used. Both the Violets and the Wallflowers must be taken up as soon as they have finished flowering, or their roots, particularly those of the Violet, will be inextricably entangled with those of the roses. They need not be thrown away, but can be divided or cuttings may be taken, and put out in a shady place until the autumn comes round, when they will return to their beds.

Summer friends

For summer more subdued colors must be employed, such as will not detract from the loveliness of the rose itself. The brown Wood-Sorrel, Oxalis, which is only about two inches high, makes a very pretty carpet. The leaves are shaped like a shamrock, but a rich brown, and it bears tiny yellow flowers which only come out when the sun shines on them. It is easily brought up from seed, and if sown one spring there will be no further trouble, as it comes up every year. It must not be allowed to get too thick, or to approach quite close to the stems of the roses.

There are several lowly Campanulas also suitable for carpets. Pansies and Violas, if the delicate shades are employed, they sometimes look very happy amongst the roses. Both like much the same soil, and both, specially Pansies, do not like a blaze of sun, and therefore will do very well with them. They must not be planted too close and only last year's cuttings must be set, as old plants are much too large and straggling.

Some of the smaller growing Saxifrages make a nice carpet, and are excellent for edgings. S.Caespitosa, S.Hypnoides, and others of the mossy tribe, are extremely pretty if not allowed to grow too thick. Thrift is another good edging for rose beds. Naturally it is only where the beds or borders abut on a gravel path that any edging is required and turf makes the best frame of all.


Some annuals make very good plants for associating with roses. Shirley and Iceland Poppies, Leptosiphon, Whitlavia, and Godetia, look as well as anything, but care must be taken to see that the color of the annual harmonises with that of the roses. The Poppies, if chiefly shades of yellow and orange, should only be planted amongst cream roses or yellow roses, and the Leptosiphon, being rose pink, only amongst white roses, or those of a similar shade of pink.

Round the standards

For rose standards something taller is needed. Salpiglossis look beautiful grouped around the stem of a rose, and are such graceful quiet annuals that they enhance the beauty of flowers overhead. Coreopsis Tinctoria, which has yellow flowers with brown centers is also excellent for this purpose. The Salpiglossis give blooms of several shades if a mixed packet of seed is sown, purple, tawny, terracotta, and many other common shades. The great thing is to get these annuals up in time. It is a very good plan to buy the seedlings when a few inches high and the result is more certain.

Japanese Pinks are exceedingly pretty, and so easy to grow. Their fringed crimson and white flowers can be cut in quantities without detracting from the appearance of the rose beds, and they continue in bloom right up to the frosts. Statices are much employed instead of grasses, their innumerable tiny flowers are so light and airy, and are produced very freely. They grow from eighteen inches to two feet high, and take away from the bare effect of the rose stems very well indeed. Celosias, too, are feathery annuals to be had in various colors, and not half enough known. The golden colored variety is the most distinct and has a good effect grouped round some cream standard roses.

All these annuals should be treated as half hard, for it is little use sowing the seed in the open ground if an early show is desired. Frames must be brought into use or the young plants can be bought.

When rose trees are rather far apart, plants with a greater amount of foliage and deeper roots can be used. Columbines, for instance, are well adapted for association with roses, especially when these are growing in shady places. They do not flower for so long a period as the annuals, but their leaves are very fresh, and plants which flower later can be mixed with them.

Roses that Bloom in the Shade

Most roses need five to six hours of sun to prosper and bloom and there are indeed very few roses that tolerate or even enjoy being in partial shade. No known variety will thrive in full shade. There are some miniatures and a few climbing and shrub roses that are fairly shade tolerant and will adjust to partial shade.

Roses are natural sun lovers and no matter what variety you choose, most will produce less bloom even in partial shade. However, it is possible to select roses that do okay in the shade, and that do not noticeably lose any blooms. Those that can be adapted will produce larger and more lush bloom and foliage. Pale colored roses actually look better in the shade because shading helps them fully display their colors, where they would appear somewhat faded looking in full sun.

Here are some suitable varieties if you want to try to grow roses in partial shade:

Rosa 'Ballerina'

Ballerina is a variety of a hybrid musk rose producing single, very dainty five petaled flowers which grow in clusters. The flowers are pink and white, and held erect and above the foliage, creating a beautiful display. As with all musk roses, Ballerina has a distinct and delightful fragrance. Because it is naturally disease resistant and tolerant of partial shade, this is a variety that is relatively easy to care for. It will bloom well into the autumn, creating a long blooming season and will then produce vividly colored attractive hips. It can be trained as a climber, but looks better in its natural shrub form. Ballerina is a versatile easy to grow rose and makes an excellent subject for growing in part shade.

Knock-Out Rose

Rosa 'Radrazz', otherwise known as Knock-Out Rose is the award winning rose variety that is the most shade tolerant of any rose variety. The bright, cherry red blossoms are in a perpetual state of growth and production. The mildly fragrant bloom starts in early spring and continues the cycle through the summer, autumn, and even into winter. Not only is the Knock-Out tolerant of partial shade, it is also disease and drought resistant. Resistance to blackspot makes it a good subject for areas of high humidity. This versatile rose is a superior choice for beginners and pros alike as it practically guarantees success.

Playboy Rose

Playboy is perhaps the most spectacular of the shade tolerant roses. It produces glossy foliage which sets of the bloom to perfection. The semi-double flowers are fairly large. Bloom color starts out in shades of yellow and then progresses to orange and finally reaches a deep red color as it ages and fades. Playboy has a very dramatic appearance and is beautiful at all stages as well as disease resistant. Being fairly easy to grow makes it a good choice for your part-shade garden and is especially suitable for a border or as a hedge.

No matter which of the above rose varieties you select, you are likely to have a positive rose growing experience, even in partial shade.

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