Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rose History by Jerry Peterson

Jerry Peterson shared this history of the rose which he got from the White Flower Farm Catalog: 

"Based on fossil records, the Rose family (which includes fruits such as cherries and strawberries as well as many garden perennials) has been in existence for millions of years, perhaps 90 million years. The Rose itself has been one of the most revered flowers throughout history.

Early civilizations, such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans, admired Roses and cultivated them over 5,000 years ago. The gardens of the Pharaohs were filled with Roses; traces of the Holy Rose of Abyssinia have been found in tombs dating back to 3,000 B.C. Confucius wrote about an obsession with Roses in China, while Medieval legends hold that a white Rose perfumed the Garden of Eden.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, formal gardens were no longer practical and Roses were grown mainly for their medicinal uses. Later, soldiers returning from the Crusades brought home exotic new varieties from the Middle East and rekindled the desire to grow Roses as ornamentals.

In the early 1800s, Napoleon’s wife Josephine created her renowned Rose garden at Malmaison near Paris. She included nearly every variety known at the time and her husband ordered his captains to bring home unusual bushes spotted during their travels. The gardens at Malmaison sparked huge interest in Roses and eventually led to the development of repeat-blooming Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and Grandifloras. Unfortunately, in the quest for bigger and better flowers, scent was often bred out of newer varieties.

Today, dedicated Rose breeders continue the mysterious process and long-term commitment it takes to combine the best attributes into new forms that simply did not exist 25 years ago. In England, David Austin deliberately includes old, fragrant Roses in his breeding program to restore scent."