Rose in June :: Birth Flower of the Month
Would it be too bold a claim to say the rose is the world's most popular flower? We suspect not, because it's difficult to think of a flower that has had more lines of poetry inspired by it, more floral artworks featuring it, more gardeners pricking thumbs over it, and more people stopping to catch a whiff of when walking by, than perhaps any other genus of flower.
The rose is the traditional Birth Flower for June - so let's discover a bit more about it, shall we?
love, passion, appreciation.
While all roses symbolise love, passion & appreciation, it gets more layered (a bit like the petals of this much-loved flower), because the different colours of roses each convey their own meaning in the traditional Language of Flowers.
Red Rose = beauty, courage, passion, one true love.
White Rose = innocence, purity, humility.
Pale Pink Rose = desire, energy, youth, love. Pink Rose = perfect happiness, grace.
Dark Pink Rose = gratitude.
Orange Rose = fascination, desire, passion. Pale Orange/ Peach Rose = modesty.
Yellow Rose = friendship, apology, broken heart, jealousy, infidelity.
Violet Rose = love at first sight.
Red and Yellow Roses, mixed bunch = excitement, happiness, sheer joy.
Long celebrated as the floral scent above all others, the rose has been cultivated since at least 2350 BCE.
But fossils of roses have been dated to a much earlier time... They have been found in a slate deposit in Colorado, believed to have been formed 40 million years ago.
Fossilised rose remains have also been discovered in Alaska, Norway and as far south as Mexico.
Naturally found only in the northern hemisphere, roses were written about by Confucius in 500 BCE, and painted in Ancient Egyptian tombs around 1500 BCE.
While it is uncertain where the origins of the first cultivated roses occurred, there is no doubt that they were bred by many ancient civilisations, from the Chinese to the Romans, and later, around the 6th century, would form an important part of gardening design to the Persians.
"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important"
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
The Little Prince,
Roses are part of the Rosaceae family - which also includes apples, plums, raspberries, strawberries, quinces, apricots and almonds.
Perhaps that is why the flavour of rose water goes so well with these fruits and nuts?
All roses adore sunshine - so the amount of sunny hours in a day will directly effect the number of blooms. While they prefer at least 4 hours of direct sun per day in the flowering season of spring, summer and autumn, there are some varieties that will cope with less - such as the ubiquitous white Iceberg rose, the most planted of all varieties. It may be a common variety, but it's a faithful one as it is less prone to black spot and mildew than most other varieties. It's particularly charming in the early spring and late autumn, as cold nights will create a blush bloom on the otherwise perfectly white flowers.
Cold nights will create an enchanting blush tone on this otherwise all-white rose.
CULINARY IDEAS FOR ROSES
Think of fragrant Turkish Delight, and think of roses. Many fabulous desserts feature the glorious scented flavour of rose petals - from rose and pistachio cake to rose ice cream - while the fruit that forms from the rose flower (or rosehip) is traditionally used to create jams, jellies and preserves.
We use rosewater in lots of our baking & dessert making. Have you tried Rosewater Chia Pudding? Just stir a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds into a cup of almond milk, then stir through a teaspoon of rosewater. Leave overnight if possible - or at least a couple of hours - and you have a dessert that tastes of summertime.
Other favourites from our kitchen are Rosewater Patty (or Cup) Cakes, with delicately scented rosewater icing, and for something super-impressive (but ridiculously easy to make) Strawberry Rose Meringue Kisses made from chickpea aquafaba. Recipes below.
So if you have a loved one's birthday in June and need to think of a present to wow them, perhaps gift them a batch of these pretty meringues alongside a bunch of fresh roses in their favourite colour.
And really, who wouldn't like to be gifted a posy of old-fashioned heavily scented roses, their petals in softly-dropping folds of botanical velvet? It's a gorgeous flower, and well and truly worthy of its Birth Flower status.
All images by the author.