My sister came bustling in the other evening all aglow with Christmas cheer. In addition to her usual peculiarities she appeared to be wrestling a large, brown paper sack into my living room, a room already under siege from a recently purchased, very wet, over-sized Christmas tree.
“I’ve brought you your Christmas present” she proclaimed joyfully. ” I had to bring it early ‘cos it probably won’t survive if I hang onto it.”
This ruled out my initial thought that she had been on the sauce and decided to bring me a sack of spuds for Christmas; I like potatoes but not as a gift. With much giggling she delved into the paper sack and brought out…….(drum roll)…….with a flourish………da da daaa…..A TWIG!
The appearance of this five pronged piece of vegetation, with it’s long, dirty roots, made my merry little heart leap. What an ace gift from my blue haired sister, a rose bush! But this is not just any rose bush, this is a David Austin rose bush.
David Austin roses are amongst the finest in the country and, out nine hundred varieties to choose from, she has picked the perfect rose for me.
Rosa gallica officinalis, also known as the Apothecary’s rose, was once one of the most highly regarded medicinal plants in medieval gardens, a ‘must have’ for monks across Europe and beyond. The aromatic rose petals release an astringent when boiled in water and it’s these oils that were so important in early medicine to cleanse wounds and promote healing.
The fragrance of roses is irresistible. Who can resist burying their face in the soft, warm petals of a rose on a summers day. I find myself inhaling deeply and releasing my breath with a satisfactory sigh, totally blissed out. And so I should be because the scent of roses lifts the spirit, it is a natural feel good aroma that makes us happy.
Nowadays rose oil is big business as the benefits are being recognised in the skin care industry. I spent a lovely evening in the company of friends being pampered with Temple Spa products. These paraben and alcohol free cleansers and moisturisers are full of essential oils including rose oil. They smell amazing and I can honestly say we all felt very chilled and happy at the end of the evening, and we had beautiful, glowing skin too. The scent of rose is also included in fragrances, candles and oils to evoke a sense of well being. While I am all for good skin care products and a well balanced fragrance, I love using the real thing too.
My rose bush may look like a twig at the moment but this little twig is full of potential. All it needs are the right conditions, a little bit of tender loving care and the right time to bloom. And bloom it will. In summer, tightly packed buds will gently unfurl to reveal deep pink, scented blooms. I can’t wait to sip my first cup of rose petal tea in the garden where the fragrance of rose lingers in the air, or perhaps I will scatter the petals in an early morning bath, listening to birdsong as a new day unfolds.
Whatever I choose, it will be good, for me and the garden. This is a gift that keeps on giving, every year getting bigger and better, it’s a fantastic gift.
A rose is for life not just for Christmas!
If any of you are lucky enough to be given a bare rooted rose for Christmas, here’s what to do.
Soak in water for a couple of hours, it will be thirsty after its journey.
If like me, you haven’t decided the best place for it, plant the rose in multi purpose compost in a pot. Ensure the graft is above soil level and firm in.
Your rose will be perfectly content outdoors so get back inside, put you feet up and enjoy a warm mug of Gluhwein.