According to Greek poetry, the rose is the Queen of the Garden and boon of the earth. In your garden, it is time to tend to bush roses by trimming and feeding them. As I recommend with all outdoor growing plants this time of year, add a layer of compost around rose bushes. They also will enjoy a bit of alfalfa for added nitrogen. A banana peel around the base of the plant will give it a potassium boost and bigger blooms. Roses love trimming. Think about taking approximately 30 percent of the plant off. You are trimming for safety of the plant, shape and growth pattern. I like to keep a 6-inch clearance from the ground free from limbs. This is my own preference and allows me to see under the plant and not be surprised by any critters trying to hide. Shape is a personal preference as well, the pom-pom and vase shape are popular. Next trim any limbs growing straight up, any that are rubbing against another limb, and any that are not conforming to the desired shape or pattern.
I don’t recommend taking a bite out of the flowers your sweetheart gave you for Valentine’s Day, as they probably are not organic. But if you have organically tended to your roses, the petals and hips are edible.
Rose hips contain vitamin C and are most commonly used in teas. Rose petals can be used in salads.
It takes lots of rose petals, but you can distill your own rose water at home, and use it as a natural splash of fragrance or put in a spray bottle to freshen the air.
What to do with the beautiful bouquet you received last week that is now wilting? Tie the ends together and hang it upside down for a dried floral arrangement. Another idea it to remove the petals and leaves, dry them, add a scented oil, and tie in a lace fabric (or old sock) to make a sweet smelling sachet for your closet or sock drawer.
There is always room for beauty: Memory
A myriad lovely blossoms may enclose
But, whatso’er hath been, there still must be
Room for another rose.
– Florence Earle Coates, The Poetry of the Earth
Phase III of New Demonstration Rose Garden Planting
at Keist Memorial Gardens
Saturday, Feb. 23 9 a.m. to noon
For more information, contact Barbara Barbee.