History and beauty of roses

We are in the prime of spring when we can plant most any plants and when all of our plants are growing rapidly and the entire plant kingdom seems happy and productive. This is a great time to plant the rest of your flowerbeds, to plant all your container gardens and hanging baskets so you can enjoy the next 6 months of our Oklahoma growing season. As we make the annual march through spring many seasonal flowers are celebrating with colorful displays of flowers. We are still enjoying some Iris and Wisteria we talked about earlier but now the Peonies and Roses are stealing the show. This last week I have seen some of the prettiest Peonies in years flowering just in time for Mothers Day and they will flower for the next several weeks. They produce beautiful large flowers, many very double in tones of pink, white and red grown from roots handled like bulbs planted in the fall or you can buy them now, grown out in nursery containers. They will make a magnificent show year after year in mid to late May.

Roses are one of our most famous and historic flowers that we use to communicate our love and friendship. We use roses for Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day, all kinds of special dates, weddings, anniversaries and just because. Besides enjoying rose cut flowers for special occasions you can grow beautiful roses in your own yard. Archeologists have found rose fossils dating back over 35 million years and they are prominent in Greek Mythology involving Aphrodite, Zephr, Chloris, Dionyses and Apollo. Roses are mentioned in Hindu legends involving Brahma and Vishnu arguing whether roses or lotus are the most beautiful flowers. Frescoe paintings in Crete from 1700 years before Christ feature roses and wreaths with roses were found in many old Egyptian tombs. The Romans became so enchanted with roses that they filled baths and fountains with rose water, created rose petal confetti for celebrations, set on carpets of rose flowers for very special feasts and events. They also used roses for perfume and medicinal purposes. During the fifteenth century the civil war to control England was known as the War of the Roses as the York area was identified by the white rose and the Lancaster area was represented by the red rose. Later the rose was championed by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet at a time when roses were in such demand that roses and rose water were used as legal tender. Napoleon’s wife, Josephine, established great rose gardens with over 250 varieties west of Paris. Cultivated roses were introduced to England and the rest of Europe from China in the late 1700’s. These new varieties from China were repeat bloomers instead of only blooming once a year.  The early roses were tones of pink and white until red roses were introduced from China. Frenchman Joseph Permet – Ducher discovered yellow roses in the early 1800’s and soon breeding had yellow and orange tones to go with the red, white and pink roses.

Today there are over 30,000 known varieties of roses for you to choose from in many growth styles from climbers or vines that do well on trellises and fences to polyantha’s that stay small and compact and work good as borders. The most common types are floribundas with clusters of flowers, grandifloras and the elegant hybrid teas with the large single stem flowers. All growth types are available in numerous colors.

You can buy beautiful container grown roses at your local nursery or garden center to add to your landscape. They do best planted in well drained soil planted in the full sun with the bud union or graft 1” to 2” above the soil.

After each flower is finished cut that stem back to at least the first leaf with 5 leaflets to direct the plants energy to produce more flowers rather than seed. Roses will need supplemental watering in the dry summer months to get the most flowers and they will benefit from several light feedings through the growing season. Some varieties are more susceptible to blackspot or mildew funguses which may require spraying. Your nurseryman can help you select the right rose bush for your application. They will come back year after year with just a little attention. Prune your roses back in late February to mid March each year and they will perform for many years.

Our days are now longer and the weather is inviting so make some time to get out and commune with nature in your yard and gardens.


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