The Language of Roses

By Anna Dantoni –

A rose is a rose is a rose… a cryptic comment by cryptic writer and art collector Gertrude Stein who was never known for being an expert on the flower, but more concerned with the “lost generation,” of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you want to become more knowledgeable about the world of roses and maybe plant a bush or two of your own, this is a good time. June is National Rose Month. Also, the rose is America’s National Floral Emblem and has been since 1987 when President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation.

In the language of this special flower, color is everything. Give a red rose to someone you romantically love. A white rose signifies reverence while yellow is celebratory. A bouquet of yellow roses is an appropriate gift to a new mother. Orange roses are all about passion, so be careful. Giving someone roses with a purple hue says “it was love at first sight.”

Giving someone a pink rose transmits admiration while a bouquet of pink and white together conveys enduring love. Red and white roses entwined in an arrangement signifies unity and is a fine choice for an anniversary bouquet. There are lots of weddings in June and the most popular bridal bouquet today is composed white roses, but several different shades of white and no greenery except for a collar of leaves around the compact hand-held round bouquet.

Having a vivid garden of climbing roses and rose bushes to pick from and make arrangements for the home is a dream of most gardeners. Temperature and soil conditions vary so access specific tips for rose-growing success at your local garden center, rose society or garden club. But, in general roses need sun – six to eight hours per day. Roses don’t like wet roots, so good drainage is important.

Dig a hole about two feet deep and equally as wide. Place a small handful of Super Phosphate in a corner of the hole. Don’t try to mix it in with the mixture in the next step. Next, begin to fill the hole with the rose in the center followed by a mix of the following: ½ top soil, ¼ peat moss and ¼ perlite. Set the rose so that “bud union,” the big ball that the canes come from, is about two to four inches above the soil line. Pack the bottom and the sides with the mix, water well and tamp it in solidly.

Water roses daily for the first week. After the first week make sure your roses get about two inches of water a week. Fertilize monthly with special rose fertilizer. Spray for fungus (especially black spot) according to the directions on the bottle. Roses need be sprayed for insects only when you see them on your plants. The best rose gardeners are those who set up a regime and follow it religiously. If you’re faithful about putting in the time you will be rewarded with beautiful and bountiful blooms.


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