There’s something about roses. More than 1.2 billion cut roses are purchased in the United States every year, most of them on Valentines Day. (Mothers Day comes second.) Millions of gardeners cultivate roses, some exclusively. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Rose Societies.
As the symbol of love, roses have inspired musicians, poets and authors. Shakespeare alone mentioned roses more than 50 times in his poems and plays.
Cleopatra reportedly decorated her palace floors in rose petals and Confucius had a 600-book library devoted to rose gardening (see For the love of roses). Forget pearls and diamonds, the Greeks would adorn themselves with garlands of roses for festive occasions. Napoleon’s wife Josephine loved roses so much that she grew more than 250 different varieties.
Roses have also been around for a long, long time. Archaeologists have discovered the fossilized remains of wild roses that date back more than 40 million years.
What draws us to roses? They’re beautiful and their fragrant. There are also a lot of different kinds of roses — as many as 150 to 200 species under the genus Rosa and thousands of varieties. There are miniature roses, climbing roses, roses that are the size of saucers, teeny roses, roses that are white, red, pink and yellow. Heck, there’s even a Rose reference database that lists over 6500 roses, searchable by name, color, variety, classification and many more characteristics.
While roses may be considered the queen of flowers, they also have a reputation for being prima donnas of the plant world. Requiring generous amounts of organic fertilizers and often susceptible to disease and insect attacks, it is true that they demand a certain amount of attention. However, you don’t have to be a slave to your roses. Given regular care, your rose garden can grow beautifully and be the envy of the neighborhood for many years.
On this site I’ve posted several articles and tips to help get you started growing prize winning roses. I recommend these other sites if you’re interested in more information about organic gardening or container gardening.