It’s cold here. We’ve got snow on the ground and more on the way. I’m longing for spring’s arrival, but there’s nothing I can do to hasten it. What I can do now to ease the misery of winter is to dream of the coming season, and there’s no better way to do that than with a seed catalog from one of the nurseries.
I love fragrant flowers, and while I was browsing, the roses caught my eye. Just looking at the beautiful images makes springtime seem a little closer, and I can close my eyes and imagine their delicate perfume in the air.
Is there anyone who doesn’t love roses?
Roses have become synonymous with love and romance, so maybe that’s why I enjoy them so much.
My husband often brings me roses — not only on Valentine’s Day or special occasions, but just to say “I love you.” I’ve saved the petals from every rose he’s given me, and I’ve used them to make sweet-smelling potpourri jars. I treasure them.
While browsing through the pages of brilliantly-colored petals, I became curious. Soon I set off to do a little research.
Roses existed long before the birth of Christ.
The Rosa gallica officinalis originated in Persia, present day Iran, and was brought through Turkey, to France, and finally found its way to England.
There, it was renamed “The Red Rose of Lancaster”. During the 15th century, it figured prominently in the “Wars of the Roses”, a series of dynastic wars fought between the York and Lancaster families for control of the English throne.
Each royal family’s heraldic crest featured a rose — white for the York crest, and red for the Lancaster. It was the Lancaster family who ultimately won the war when Henry Tudor defeated King Richard III at Bosworth Field.
Many other varieties of roses have been associated with historical figures. The “Desiree Parmentier” rose — an intensely aromatic bloom — was named for Desiree Clary, a Frenchwoman who became the Queen of Sweden. The flower is sometimes also known as the “Queen of Sweden” rose.
As a young woman, she provided financial support to Napoleon Bonaparte by giving him her jewels. When one of Bonaparte’s marshals was later crowned king of Sweden, Napoleon introduced Desiree to him.
Josephine Bonaparte, wife of Napoleon, was also a lover of roses. She grew the flowers in the garden of her chateau near Paris. One variety, known today as the “Souvenir de la Malmaison” was admired by Catherine the Great of Russia. Her garden in St. Petersburg was filled with the delicate, pale pink blossoms.
Each time I see one of the potpourri jars I’ve made, these words of Shakespeare quickly come to mind:
“This castle hath a pleasant seat. The air nimbly and gently recommends itself unto our senses.”
Although my home is far from a castle, it does have a pleasant seat, and indeed, the air is sweet, but spicy, too. I’ve added drops of essential oils to my potpourri jars along with a touch of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
I didn’t use any special recipe to create my potpourri, but I did find the following recipe you might want to try.
* 1/2 cup rose petals
* 1/2 cup lavender blossoms
* 1/2 cup sweet woodruff
* 1/2 cup pot marjoram leaves and blossoms
* 1/4 cup mint
* 2 teaspoons orange peel
* 2 teaspoons whole cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon crushed cinnamon stick
* 2 drops each of lavender and rose oils
* 1/2 teaspoon powdered orrisroot
Combine the first eight ingredients. Sprinkle the oils and the orrisroot over the dry ingredients and mix well. Place in a covered jar, and stir gently every few days for a month, until the scents have blended and mellowed. Remove the jar’s cover to freshen a room, but be sure to replace the cover between times of use. All potpourris need time to recoup their scents. The above recipe will also work well in sachets.
Note: Orris root powder can be purchased online through herbal suppliers and may also be available at natural foods or health food stores.
Potpourris and sachets are wonderful ways to bring a little “spring” into a dreary winter day, as are fragrant bath oils and scented candles. I can’t make winter go away, but I can stay warm and cozy inside and enjoy sweet thoughts of the coming season.
Thank you for visiting today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at one of the world’s most cherished flowers.