Roses have been on my mind; they are an impractical but charming gift. As a practical horticulturist, they are a lot of work and take way too many resources, water, fertilizer, and pesticides to grow well. However, what heart doesn’t melt at the sight of roses? The gardener willing to work at growing roses in Florida is rewarded with a vase full of colorful beauties, home-grown to use as a gift of roses.
Roses have long been regarded as the queen of flowers and are steeped in myths and legends. Cleopatra’s palace is said to have been carpeted with rose petals; rose petals were added to wine because they supposedly prevented drunkenness; the oldest living rose bush is said to be more than a thousand years old and Napoleon’s Josephine grew more than 250 varieties.
Florists shudder at the last-minute shopper who runs in late on Valentine’s Day looking for roses for their sweetheart. The price of roses, like many consumer goods, varies; the price rises when demand is high. My father once told me, sometimes you have to pay; it’s worth it, so don’t whine. Whether male or female, gardener or not, everyone deserves roses as a gift at least once in a lifetime; buy the roses.
For the gardener, seek out a locally owned nursery or garden center, preferably a member of the Florida Nursery, Growers, and Landscape Association, for a full-size rose to plant. Roses for Florida must be grafted on Rosa fortuniana rootstock. This tough plant helps old and new varieties resist nematodes that feed on the roots. Additionally, the rootstock provides some resistance to diseases such as gall, stem dieback, and black spot.
Roses are the most popular flowers given on Valentine’s Day. The most preferred are long-stemmed red roses, but many other hues and types of roses are available, be open to different colors and kinds; they are also beautiful and offer adventure and surprise.
There are meanings associated with the color of the rose given though experts may disagree with those meanings. Typically, red roses symbolize full, passionate love; yellow roses have been associated with jealousy and infidelity, though sometimes they are a symbol of joy and friendship. Orange roses are considered wild and energetic; they are often a sign of passion, gratitude, or desire. White roses are said to symbolize the purity of the mind and soul.
Don’t shy away from a gift of roses; they are magical and warm the heart.
This column first appeared in the Treasure Coast Newspapers.