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We’ve been following a decidedly floral theme recently, enjoying the delights of this time of year. While Elderflowers may not have been at the top of most people’s lists (!), Lavender certainly is, as is this week’s choice. Time and again, it tops the list of our favourite summer flower, so there are no prizes for guessing what it is. The Rose. 
 
It’s thought that Roses have been grown for over 3,000 years, with a huge number of different wild varieties, let alone cultivated ones. Originating in Iran, they can now be found in almost every part of the world. 
 
 
Our lovely Wild Rose, the Dog Rose – Rosa Canina – is another welcome sign that Summer has arrived and can be found in hedges at this time of year. Not only does it grow quickly – reaching an astonishing size if left to its own devices – but comes in a variety of colours from pure white to the brightest pink. 
 
And it doesn’t stop there. The flowers are followed in the Autumn by rose hips, another sign of the turning seasons; along with blackberries, elderberries and sloes. 
 
Then there are the cultivated varieties in every shape, size and colour. Shrub, Climbing, Hybrids, Tea Roses, Miniatures and the lovely English Roses, courtesy of David Austin. The list grows each year… It’s little wonder the Rose is known as the “Queen of the Flowers”, consistently topping our list of favourite flowers. 
 
With its long history, there’s a rich folklore associated with Roses. Well known as a symbol of love and beauty, they’ve always been linked to the female of the species. A valued cosmetic used in baths, creams and poultices, it’s also used to make Rosewater. Rose has many healing abilities, including helping soothe irritated skin as well as banishing wrinkles (!). It’s strongly linked to affairs of the heart and mind, as well as helping balance female hormones. 
 
Roses have also been used in many other different ways around the home. In cooking, as both decoration and an ingredient, added to jams, jellies and other sweets. And don’t forget Turkish Delight! 
 
Along with Lavender and other fragrant herbs, dried Rose petals can be used to keep laundry, as well as the rest of the home, sweet and fresh smelling. And who can resist a vase of Roses and other summer flowers as an instant “pick me up”? 
 
Finally, no post about Roses would be complete without a mention of the Wars of the Roses. The White Rose of the House of York and Red Rose of Lancaster. 
 
Like Lavender, Roses are a rich source of nectar for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. However, there’s one very important thing to remember. While double roses look fantastic, unfortunately, insects can’t reach the stamens to collect the nectar. So, for insects, the open single – or semi double – Roses are best, where the stamens are easy to find and nectar to collect. 
 
Roses contain a huge number of different compounds. These include Linalool, Citronellol and Geraniol; which give them their well known aroma and healing qualities. 
 
What can Roses be used for? 
 
As already mentioned, the Rose has always been used for cosmetic purposes. 
 
Rosewater – simply rose petals soaked in water to release the essential oils and other healing compounds – is a natural astringent. In other words, it helps tone the skin, as well as drying oily skin and tightening the pores. It’s also anti inflammatory, soothing irritated skin and reducing redness. Together these can also help reduce wrinkles and fine lines, as well as the signs of ageing (!). 
 
Rosewater is also cooling making it useful for sunburn or insect bites. 
 
Finally, it’s also antibacterial and can be used as a natural cleanser for Acne, Acne Rosacea and other bacterial skin conditions. It can also be used to help wounds heal by mixing it with honey, which is also well known for its healing and antiseptic qualities. For this reason, it can also be used to soothe an inflamed mouth or gums. 
 
Adding Rose essential oil to a cream acts as a moisturiser, leaving the skin feeling smooth and hydrated. It also helps maintain the skin’s natural PH balance and protects against UV light damage. 
 
Like Lavender, Rose is calming and soothing. It can be used during the day for Headaches or to help reduce Stress or Anxiety; at night to help Sleep. 
 
Rose can also help with muscle spasms / cramping and has been found to be particularly helpful for period pain. Simply massage the abdomen with Rose oil diluted into a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil. 
 
More generally, Rose has an affinity for balancing female hormones and has been found to help reduce hot flushes and balance the mood during Menopause. 
 
Rose can also be used for Colds, Fever and Sore Throats due to its calming and cooling properties, as well as it being a natural antiseptic. 
 
Now here are a few of things you may not have thought of. 
 
Rose petals can be used to help feed the “good bacteria” present in the gut, so helping reduce bloating and fermentation issues. In other words, gas, whether going up or down. And we’ll leave the rest to your imagination! 
 
It also supports the Liver and Gallbladder, as well as helping reduce cholesterol levels. 
 
Finally, Rose tea – or tisane – is also considered a general “pick me up” or tonic, as well as being high in antioxidants to help repair cellular damage. 
 
How to use Roses 
 
The easiest way to gain Rose’s benefits, is to use fresh petals to make a tea or tisane. Simply add a handful to a teapot and let it “brew” for a few minutes. It can then be drunk hot or cold. If you’re drinking it cold, keep in the fridge until needed and dilute to taste. Cold, it can also be used as a gargle or a compress. 
 
Like Lavender, Rose can be combined with other herbs. They also work well together for a very floral tea. Experiment and see which combination is your favourite! 
 
Rose petals are best collected first thing in the morning, from a Rose that’s fully open, when it’s dry. Dark red or pink roses have the highest levels of antioxidants, as well as the best aroma and flavour. Simply take a handful of petals from a single Rose and add to your teapot. It’s as easy as that! 
 
The petals can also be added to a bath for a fantastic aroma. 
 
Rose essential oil can be added to a base carrier oil – such as sweet almond oil – or moisturiser and used on the skin. Alternatively, add it to a spray bottle as a spritzer on hot days or to use on cuts or grazes to aid healing. 
 
Rose petals are easy to dry. Just spread on a tea towel and leave somewhere warm to dry. Then store in an airtight container in a cool dark place to use as needed. 
 
With literally thousands of Roses to choose from, there’s no shortage of choice and it’s easy to become hooked. And don’t forget to include at least one single or semi double Rose, the bees will thank you for it. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
 
Picture by unknown artist 
 
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