The English culture is deeply entwined with rose. Our closeness to this exquisitely fragranced and beautiful plant runs deep. The rose in the language of flowers represents love and passion and reflects pale English beauty. In England we call a pale English white skin an “English Rose complexion”
In mythology Aphrodite caused roses to be red by scratching herself on rose thorns while rushing to the side of mortally wounded Adonis. Her blood stained the white blooms it fell on, and so red roses ever more have remained a lover’s token.
Romans worshipped the flowers, used rose wreaths to crown bridal couples, carpeted the floor with petals for banquets, and floated petals in wine and beer believing them to have aphrodisiac properties. Ancient Egyptians also held the flower sacred and petrified rose wreaths have been found in several tombs. Such is the universal appeal of the rose that it’s even a religious symbol. The Rosary was once a string of dried roses.
Napoleon’s wife Josephine adored roses, and had troops collect rose plants during their campaigns until she built an impressive collection that was painted for posterity by Pierre Joseph Redouté.
Medicinal uses of the plant goes back to ancient civilisations. While there’s some dispute about the origins of the ‘Ring a ring of roses’ rhyme, some say it refers to bunches of herbs and flowers carried to ward off disease.
A pocket full of posies
We all fall down
Apothecaries frequently used roses to treat a range of ailments particularly in relation to the skin. While they didn’t know it, roses are packed with essential nutrients.
Rose is a very precious and expensive ingredient. Harvesting the rose petals by hand is incredibly labour intensive. It takes three tonnes of fresh damascene rose petals to make just one litre of the essential oil that iss the queen of fragrances and a key ingredient in many high quality toiletries and cosmetics.
Roses have been a key ingredient in English beauty products since antiquity and in luxury stores the world over almost all premium beauty brands feature the spectacular rose in their products.