What gardeners should know about roses

From the Orient to Europe

The first wild rose species appeared more than 25 million years ago. The rose was originally native to Persia, China, and Egypt. Later it reached Greece and the Roman Empire, and from there to Central Europe.

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During the Middle Ages, the rose was found only in the gardens of monasteries – because at that time it was valued above all for its healing properties. The plants did not appear in city gardens and cottages until the 16th century. In addition, the rose played an important symbolic role in Christianity: as a symbol of Mary and eternal life prospering from death.

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Do you prefer cultivated or wild camels?

They can be roughly divided into two types: wild and cultivated roses. “Wild roses are vigorously growing native varieties that usually only bloom once a year,” says Klaus Korber, Vice President of the German Rose Association. Cultivated roses with certain characteristics were bred from wild roses. There are varieties that have almost no spines, have a very strong aroma or especially long stems.

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Many varieties need little space and are also suitable for a balcony. “However, the most important advantage is the longer flowering period,” says Korber. “If you cut it back in June after the first flowering, new flowers will appear in August and September, and sometimes a third time.”

Rose bed: wild and cultivated roses in combination

“Anyone who likes things that are close to nature and has a lot of space might lean toward wild roses,” says Klaus Korber. “But the cultivated rose is more suitable for the rose bed nowadays.” This can be combined well with heat and drought tolerant perennials, such as sage, carnation, yarrow and bluebells.

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Roses have deep roots. In 2022, the climbing rose is a “perpetual domino”, says the vice-president of the German Rose Association, which selects a plant every year, “once it takes root – after two or three years – the rose can adapt well even to a dry summer”. Its fragrant red flowers bloom in the middle, making it easier for insects to access nectar and pollen.

Buying roses: this is important for beginners

Klaus Korber from the German Rosen Association recommends newcomers to pay attention to the ADR rating. ADR stands for General German Rose Freshness Test: “The new varieties undergo three years of rigorous testing in twelve locations in Germany. The varieties that received the title are visually attractive, healthy and resistant to fungal diseases.”

If you want to buy a rose, it is better to buy a rose in a nursery specializing in it rather than the nearest supermarket: “Here we guarantee that you will get good varieties – and appropriate professional advice.” Also recommended: Make sure you get plenty. “The bigger the pot, the more roots.” and “Plant the rose deeper than in the pot.”

Edible roses: harvest from your own garden

All real roses are edible: all those belonging to the genus Rosa. Whether this is the case is shown by the Latin scientific name. Therefore, peonies (Paeonia), hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) and Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) are not edible. “The rose should smell good — and that means it tastes like it, too,” says Maria Rosa Schuster.

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The Austrian regularly refines dishes and drinks with rose petals. She shares her recipes on her blog Sugar & Rose. Note: “Don’t take rose bouquets from the florist,” says Schuster. “Only pure roses are edible.”

From butter to cosmetics

Rose petals taste like they smell: spicy, sweet, somewhat soapy. Their scent offers a lot of variety: “For example, I make fresh flowers into butter, use them to garnish cakes and add them to salads, flavor water or use them to enhance cocktails,” says Maria Rosa Schuster of the blog Sugar & Rose. Since the essential oil volatilizes with the sun, they pluck the flower heads in the morning hours.

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“Don’t wash, just shake the flower heads.” Then cut the petals so that they lose the base of the white or yellow leaves and stamens. To preserve the flowers, they can be dried – and then used for rose salt, pepper or as a bath additive.

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