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VALENTINE'S DAY & ROMANCE - History, Mythology, Culture, Traditions, Love, Dating, Advice, Gifts


ROSES AND THEIR MEANING



A Rose is a flowering shrub of the genus Rosa, and the flower of this shrub. There are more than a hundred species of wild roses, all from the northern hemisphere and mostly from temperate regions. The species form a group of generally prickly shrubs or climbers, and sometimes trailing plants, reaching 2–5 m tall, rarely reaching as high as 20 m by climbing over other plants.

The name originates from Latin rosa, borrowed through Oscan from colonial Greek in southern Italy: rhodon (Aeolic form: wrodon), from Aramaic wurrdā, from Assyrian wurtinnu, from Old Iranian *warda (cf. Avestan warda, Sogdian ward, Parthian wâr).

The leaves of most species are 5–15 cm long, pinnate, with (3–) 5–9 (–13) leaflets and basal stipules; the leaflets usually have a serrated margin, and often a few small prickles on the underside of the stem. The vast majority of roses are deciduous, but a few (particularly in southeast Asia) are evergreen or nearly so.

The flowers of most species roses have five petals with the exception of Rosa sericea which often has only four. Each petal is divided into two distinct lobes and are usually white or pink, though in a few species yellow or red. Beneath the petals are five sepals (or in the case of some Rosa sericea, four). These may be long enough to be visible when viewed from above and appear as green points alternating with the rounded petals. The ovary is inferior, developing below the petals and sepals.

The aggregate fruit of the rose is a berry-like structure called a rose hip. Rose species that produce open-faced flowers are attractive to pollinating bees and other insects, thus more apt to produce hips. Many of the domestic cultivars are so tightly petalled that they do not provide access for pollination. The hips of most species are red, but a few (e.g. Rosa pimpinellifolia) have dark purple to black hips. Each hip comprises an outer fleshy layer, the hypanthium, which contains 5–160 "seeds" (technically dry single-seeded fruits called achenes) embedded in a matrix of fine, but stiff, hairs. Rose hips of some species, especially the Dog Rose (Rosa canina) and Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa), are very rich in vitamin C, among the richest sources of any plant. The hips are eaten by fruit-eating birds such as thrushes and waxwings, which then disperse the seeds in their droppings. Some birds, particularly finches, also eat the seeds.

While the sharp objects along a rose stem are commonly called "thorns", they are actually prickles – outgrowths of the epidermis (the outer layer of tissue of the stem). True thorns, as produced by e.g. Citrus or Pyracantha, are modified stems, which always originate at a node and which have nodes and internodes along the length of the thorn itself. Rose prickles are typically sickle-shaped hooks, which aid the rose in hanging onto other vegetation when growing over it. Some species such as Rosa rugosa and R. pimpinellifolia have densely packed straight spines, probably an adaptation to reduce browsing by animals, but also possibly an adaptation to trap wind-blown sand and so reduce erosion and protect their roots (both of these species grow naturally on coastal sand dunes). Despite the presence of prickles, roses are frequently browsed by deer. A few species of roses only have vestigial prickles that have no points.

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Roses are one of the most popular garden shrubs and are also among the most common flowers sold by florists. Roses are of great economic importance both as a crop for florists' use and for use in perfume.

Many thousands of rose hybrids and cultivars have been bred and selected for garden use, mostly double-flowered with many or all of the stamens mutated into additional petals. As long ago as 1840 a collection numbering over one thousand different cultivars, varieties and species was possible when a rosarium was planted by Loddiges nursery for Abney Park Cemetery, an early Victorian garden cemetery and arboretum in England. Twentieth-century rose breeders generally emphasized size and color, producing large, attractive blooms with little or no scent. Many wild and "old-fashioned" roses, by contrast, have a strong sweet scent.

Roses thrive in temperate climates, though certain species and cultivars can flourish in sub-tropical and even tropical climates, especially when grafted onto appropriate root-stock.

There is no single system of classification for garden roses. In general, however, roses are placed in one of three main groups:

Wild Roses - The wild roses includes the species listed above and some of their hybrids.

Old Garden Roses - Most old garden roses are classified into one of the following (ordered by approximate age - oldest first):

Alba - Literally "white roses", derived from R. arvensis and the closely allied R. alba. These are some of the oldest garden roses, probably brought to Great Britain by the Romans. Once-flowering. Examples: 'Semi-plena', 'White Rose of York'.

Gallica - The Gallica roses have been developed from R. gallica which is a native of central and southern Europe. They flower once in the summer. Examples: 'Cardinal de Richelieu', 'Charles de Mills', 'Rosa Mundi' (R. gallica versicolor).

Damask - Robert de Brie is given credit for bringing them from Persia to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276. Summer Damasks (crosses between Gallica roses and R. phoenicea) bloom once in summer. Autumn Damasks (Gallicas crossed with R. moschata) bloom later, in the autumn. Examples: 'Ispahan', 'Madame Hardy'.

Centifolia (or Provence) - These roses, raised in the seventeenth century in the Netherlands, are named for their "one hundred" petals. Once-flowering. Examples: 'Centifolia', 'Paul Ricault'.

Moss - Closely related to the centifolias, these have a mossy excrescence on the stems and sepals. Once-flowering. Example: 'Comtesse de Murinais', 'Old Pink Moss'.

China - The China roses brought with them an amazing ability to bloom repeatedly throughout the summer and into late autumn. Four China roses ('Slater's Crimson China', 1792; 'Parsons' Pink China', 1793; 'Hume's Blush China', 1809; and 'Parks' Yellow Tea Scented China', 1824) were brought to Europe in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which brought about the creation of the repeat flowering old garden roses and later the modern garden roses. Examples: 'Old Blush China', 'Mutabilis'.

Portland - These are named after the Duchess of Portland who received (from Italy in 1800) a rose then known as R. paestana or 'Scarlet Four Seasons' Rose' (now known simply as 'The Portland Rose'). This group was developed from that rose. Repeat-flowering. Example: 'James Veitch', 'Rose de Rescht', 'The Portland Rose'.

Bourbon - They originated on l'Île de Bourbon (now called Réunion). Probably the result of a cross between the Autumn Damask and the 'Old Blush China'. Introduced in France in 1823. Repeat-flowering. Examples: 'Louise Odier', 'Mme. Pierre Oger', 'Zéphirine Drouhin'.

Hybrid Perpetual - The dominant class of roses in Victorian England, they were derived to a great extent from the Bourbons. Repeat-flowering. Examples: 'Ferdinand Pichard', 'Reine Des Violettes'.

Tea - The result of crossing two of the original China Roses ('Hume's Blush China' and 'Parks' Yellow Tea Scented China') with various Bourbons and Noisette roses. Somewhat more tender than other old garden roses (most likely because of R. gigantea in the ancestry of the Parks rose), teas are repeat-flowering roses although their fragrance is not always a tea scent. Example: 'Lady Hillingdon'.

Bermuda "Mystery" Roses - A group of several dozen "found" roses that have been grown in Bermuda for at least a century. The roses have significant value and interest for those growing roses in tropical and semi-tropical regions, since they are highly resistant to both nematode damage and the fungal diseases that plague rose culture in hot, humid areas, and capable of blooming in hot and humid weather. Most of these roses are likely Old Garden Rose cultivars that have otherwise dropped out of cultivation, or sports thereof. They are "mystery roses" because their "proper" historical names have been lost. Tradition dictates that they are named after the owner of the garden where they were rediscovered.

Miscellaneous - There are also a few smaller classes (such as Scots, Sweet Brier) and some climbing classes of old roses (including Ayrshire, Climbing China, Laevigata, Sempervirens, Noisette, Boursault, Climbing Tea, and Climbing Bourbon). Those classes with both climbing and shrub forms are often grouped together.

Modern Garden Roses - Classification of modern roses can be quite confusing because many modern roses have old garden roses in their ancestry and their form varies so much. The classifications tend to be by growth and flowering characteristics, such as "large-flowered shrub", "recurrent, large-flowered shrub", "cluster-flowered", "rambler recurrent", or "ground-cover non-recurrent".

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Many of the most popular modern cultivars can however be assigned to one of these two groups:

Hybrid Tea - The favourite florist's rose, with typically one to at most five or six large flowers per stem, the flower with numerous tightly arranged petals with reflexed tips. They are favoured in small gardens in formal situations, and for buttonhole roses. Examples: 'Peace', 'Mr. Lincoln'

Floribunda - Flowers often smaller, in large clusters of ten or more (often many more) on each stem. These tend to give a more prominent display from a distance, so are more often used in large bedding schemes in public parks and similar spaces. Examples: 'Dainty Maid', 'Iceberg', 'Tuscan Sun'.

The rose has always been valued for its beauty and fragrance and has a long history of symbolism and meaning. The ancient Greeks and Romans identified the rose with their goddesses of love (Aphrodite and Venus). In Rome a wild rose would be placed on the door of a room where confidential matters were discussed. The phrase sub rosa, or "under the rose", means to keep a secret—derived from this ancient Roman practice.

Early Christians identified the five petals of the rose with the five wounds of Christ. Despite this interpretation, their leaders were hesitant to adopt it because of its association with Roman excesses and pagan ritual. The red rose was eventually adopted as a symbol of the blood of the Christian martyrs. Roses also later came to be associated with the Virgin Mary.

Rose culture came into its own in Europe in the 1800s with the introduction of perpetual blooming roses from China. There are currently thousands of varieties of roses developed for bloom shape, size, fragrance and even for lack of prickles.

Roses are ancient symbols of love and beauty. The rose was sacred to a number of goddesses (including Isis and Aphrodite), and is often used as a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Roses are so important that the word means pink or red in a variety of languages (such as Romance languages, Greek, and Polish).

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The rose is the national flower of England and the United States, as well as being the symbol of England Rugby, and of the Rugby Football Union. It is also the provincial flower of Yorkshire and Lancashire in England (the white rose and red rose respectively) and of Alberta (the wild rose), and the state flower of four US states: Iowa and North Dakota (R. arkansana), Georgia (R. laevigata), and New York (Rosa generally). Portland, Oregon counts "City of Roses" among its nicknames, and holds an annual Rose Festival.

Roses are occasionally the basis of design for rose windows, such windows comprising five or ten segments (the five petals and five sepals of a rose) or multiples thereof; however most Gothic rose windows are much more elaborate and were probably based originally on the wheel and other symbolism.

A red rose (often held in a hand) is also a symbol of socialism or social democracy; it is also used as a symbol by the British and Irish Labour Parties, as well as by the French, Spanish (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party), Portuguese, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Brazilian, Dutch (Partij van de Arbeid) and European socialist parties. This originates from the red rose used as a badge by the marchers in the May 1968 street protests in Paris. White Rose was a World War II non-violent resistance group in Germany.

Victorian symbolism: The meaning of Roses: Yellow rose: symbolising dying love

Red Rose: Deepest Love and Respect. According to the Victorian "Language of flowers", different colored roses each have their own symbolic meaning:

Red: love

Pink: grace, gentle feelings of love

Dark Pink: gratitude

Light Pink: admiration, sympathy

White: innocence, purity, secrecy, friendship, reverence and humility.

Yellow: Yellow roses generally mean dying love or platonic love. In German-speaking countries, however, they can mean jealousy and infidelity.

Yellow with red tips: Friendship, falling in love

Orange: passion

Burgundy: beauty

Blue: mystery

Green: calm

Black: slavish devotion (as a true black rose is impossible to produce)

Purple: protection (paternal/maternal love)

Superstitions Surrounding Roses:

In some pagan mythologies, no undead or ghostly creatures (particularly vampires) may cross the path of a wild rose. It was thought that to place a wild rose on a coffin of a recently deceased person would prevent them from rising again.

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Since the earliest times, the rose has been an emblem of silence: In Greek Mythology, Eros presents a rose to the god of silence.

In a Celtic folk legend, a wandering, screaming spirit was silenced by presenting the spirit with a wild rose every new moon.

Roses were used in very early times as a very potent ingredient in love philters.

In Rome it was often customary to bless roses on "Rose Sunday". In Scotland, if a white rose bloomed in autumn it was a token of an early marriage.

The red rose, it is believed by many religions, cannot grow over a grave.

Rose leaves thrown into a burning flame are said to give good luck.

If a maiden had more than one lover, it is believed in one mythology, she should take rose leaves and write the names of her lovers upon them before casting them into the wind. The last leaf to reach the ground would bear the name of the lover whom she should marry.

It is believed that if a rose bush were pruned on St. John's Eve, it would be guaranteed to bloom in the autumn.

Roses symbolize both peace and war, love and forgiveness.

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