Sunday, June 10, 2012

Celebrating Roses! It's National Rose Month and Herb & Spice Day!

Good evening visitors, Not only is it a glorious June day here in central, PA, it happens to be National Rose Month and, National Herb and Spice Day. Have I got an herb for you; the Rose!

No, I haven't gone bonkers. According to the folks at the International Herb Society, not only is The Rose an herb, it is their chosen Herb of the Year for 2012!

What defines the meaning of an Herb you may ask?

According to legend, the Anglo-Latin scholar Alcuin (ca. 732-804) posed this question to his pupil Charlemagne. The King replied, "the friend of physicians and the praise of cooks."

It seems, I'm not the only one who is a bit surprised about this definition. I skimmed through many of my herb related books to dig up some information for you today and to my surprise, very few of them included herb information about "The Rose." And when actually mentioned in a few of the books, the harvesting was slim.

Rosa de Castilla rosa spp.
Primary Uses: The leaves and flowers are used as an eyewash. A tea of the flowers is taken to reduce high fevers and rubbed on the limbs for the same purpose. Used especially for children. The powdered flowers are applied to fever blisters and cold sores.
Secondary uses:Rosewater is applied to the face and neck to cool and tone the skin. The leaves and flowers are made into a strong tea and gargled to relieve sore throats and throat pain from heartburn, indigestion or vomiting. The aromatic flowers, steamed in water, make the air fragrant after cooking food or smoking tobacco
Los Remedios Traditional Herbal Remedies of the Southwest (p.73) by Michael Moore ©1990

A few years ago, I found a delightful surprise when I skimmed through the pages of a vintage Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I purchased at a yard sale. Inside I found a lovely "nosegay" of old garden roses illustrated by Steven Schindler.

I've been meaning to find a frame for the four of them but alas, another addition to my someday to do list:)

The Apothcary's Rose is a fragrant historic rose which is believed to be native to ancient Persia. It was brought to France in the thirteenth century and used extensively by apothecaries for medicinal purposes. Eventually, the Apothecary's Rose became a symbol for modern pharmacology. Botanically known as Rosa gallica var. officinalis, it was grown mainly in monasteries where monks prepared medicinal compounds from its petals. Preserves, jellies, oils and powders were produced, and because the dried petals also retain their perfume, it was popular for potpourri. In colonial times, the buds were dipped in sugar and eaten as candy.

Old garden roses, such as the Rosa Gallica pictured above, have a delicate beauty and wonderful perfume not often found in modern hybrids. When I lived on Long Island, I grew a rose garden of Heirloom Roses which brought me hours of delight. Not only did I enjoy their beauty, I often used them in potpourri and a few times, I even made Rosary Beads with them. But alas, that was long ago...I had no intentions of growing roses in the garden here in Pennsylvania however, Marion just couldn't resist the roses she eyed in the many, many gardening magazines and catalogs she receives in the mail. So, yes, dear readers we now have a few newly planted rose bushes that I'm sure I will be sharing with you when they bloom next year.

We did get a few blooms from last year's planting but, I must admit, I have not given the bush the care that it requires. I must remember to buy some bone meal!!! (I did however plant some garlic next to it, Rose Love Garlic you know. And thankfully, the aphids Do Not!

Small rose plants, tended during the long voyage from the Old World as carefully as children, were brought to this country from home gardens. Frequently they were the first root to be set down in new wild territory as pioneers headed west...The many weeks of ocean travel followed by stern winters precluded rose gardening for those first arrivals in New England until the early 1700s...Colonial ladies gathered bouquets of roses, wild or cultivated together with other flowers, fresh or dried, and placed them in their homes by the window so the breeze wafted their perfume into the house. Rose petals were gathered in abundance during June to be distilled and bottled for use as a skin refresher, to dry for potpourri. It was said roses in cookery "maketh a man merry merry and joyful."
A Heritage of Herbs; History, Early Gardening and Old Recipes by Bertha P. Reppert ©1976 P.99

Harison's Yellow Rose

Here we have a recipe for Scented Rose Beads provided by Jeanne Rose from her wonderful book, Herbs & Things. (my copy is quite tattered and dated 1976:)

Wild Rugosa

Rose Hip Recipes

It's Rose Hip Time! Although the Rosa rugosa (pictured above) is often grown as a domesticated rose, it is truly one of the most popular of the antique roses. The scent of its clove like perfume is second to none. The single and semi-double varieties produce the most rose hips that can sometimes last throughout the winter. It is sometimes called Wild Rose, Japanese Rose, and Turkestan Rose and it is extremely hardy.

The word "Rose" is a simple anagram. From the rearrangement of the letters is derived the word "Eros"--the Greek God of Love...The rose, and its eastern equivalent, the lotus, like all beautiful flowers represent spiritual unfoldment and attainment. Thus many deities are shown sitting upon the rose or the lotus...A thorny bush, the plant embedded within the earth seems symbolic of divine nutriment.. In fact,, this plant's hip (the bud ripened after the flower petals have fallen off) taken raw or as a tea, are very high in Vitamin C...All varieties are fine to use but the Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) with its deep pink or white flowers and Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina) with pale pink flowers are the most fragrant. The Sweetbriar Rose or Eglantine (Rose eglantaria) is seeingly beloved of the poets; possibly because the leaves are thickly covered underneath with sticky fragrant pores which give a marvelous scent about the bush. But, for all intended purposes the wild rose varieties are the preferred. The Herbal Dinner; A Renaissance of Cooking by Rob Menzies ©1977 p.51

Personally, given the choice, I would have liked to once again plan a garden around heirloom roses. Like many of us, Marion was swept away with the photogenic appeal of the many hybrid roses available in today's gardening magazines and catalogs. If you have a choice and would like to experiment with the roses of our ancestors, I do have a couple of recommendations.

1. Antique roses are fairly easy to care for. They may not make a glorious photographic statement like so many of the more modern day roses who actually stem from many of them but, they will reward you with beautiful perfumes that can only be described as intoxicating. Antique roses have recently been brought back to life by rose breeder David Austin. David Austin Roses are available to order in the US as well as many other parts of the world. "After fifty years of intensive breeding, David Austin's English Roses combine the forms and fragrances of old roses with the repeat-flowering of modern roses. They are very easy to grow, healthy and reliable."

Back in 1966, when Euell Gibbon's first published Stalking the Healthful Herbs, I was but a child most likely complaining about having to weed the family garden. Later in life, I was first awakened by Rachel Carson and her book Silent Spring and later by Mr. Gibbons. (or visa versa who can remember way back then:) However, I do vaguely remember a recipe in one of the chapters in Mr. Gibbons book for Rose Petal Jam or was it Jelly, which was uncooked. This is important to know because by not cooking the roses, you manage to preserve some of the nutrients. I happened upon the recipe for How To Make Rose Petal Jelly which according to the author, came from the book and perhaps the chapter How To Eat a Rose:)

2. I have been absorbing articles written by Jim Long founder of Long Creek Herbs, ever since I picked up my very first issue of The Herb Companion Magazine many years ago. I was delighted to discover he has recently published a book titled How To Eat A Rose which I have added to my book wish list. This is just a delightful sample of what Jim's book has to offer. Of course, you, and I, will need to get a copy of the book for the recipe:) On Jim's website, it sells for a mere $5.95! (I'm putting this link here for me, so I remember:)

Not only does he have a blog that features The Herb of the Year, with a selection of Tasty Roses for Your Garden, he also has another blog Jim Long's Recipes where he shares herbal recipes such as Lavender Cookies and Ginger Beet Cake!

If you have access to Pinterest, I have a board devoted to The Rose: Herb of the Year. It's filled with snap shots of beautiful roses and rose recipe too:)

I do believe there was a time that my children actually believed that I had the powers of witchcraft. Seriously, I was forever brewing concoctions whether it be for their meals or for my organic garden which I had eons before it was the "in" thing to have. My beliefs were confirmed when I received this wonderfully plush purple velveteen book titled White Magic: Titania's Book of Favorite Spells for my birthday one year from my son John. I embraced it for it's remembrance and also for its contents:) If you are wondering what the definition of White Magic is, you might want to visit this site. In its most basic definition, White Magic is "good magic" as compared to...I have never actually prepared or conjured up anything from this book however, I thought today as we celebrate The Rose, I should include just a little bit of sweet love, don't you think???

For those of you who have been inquiring about the Picnic Game this year, the answer is an unequivocal YES! Since its inception in 2009, the online Picnic Game has been filling our Picnic baskets with all kinds of goodies. There are many new visitors to Months of Edible Celebrations who have never played the Picnic Game and for those people, I would like to direct you to the International Picnic Day Invite post I did back then explaining the "rules." The fun begins on International Picnic Day which is always celebrated on June 18th. The round-up is posted just in time for National Picnic Month which is celebrated in July. You can see last year's round-up here or many of the Picnic Game round-up recipes on my Picnic Game Online board on Pinterest.

I'll be posting the "official" 2012 Picnic Game "rules" bright and early June 18th. The game is open to everyone, everywhere and for those of you who have never played, I do hope you will join us. And can I say, those of you who have been "lurking" in the background, it's the perfect time to introduce us not only to you but to your blog or website too!!! Since I have had so many inquiries about the Picnic Game this year, I was thinking about asking one of you who have previously joined in to host a second Picnic Game on your blog. What do you think???

I'm off to visit the garden now since it looks like it's getting a bit cooler outside. I hope your day is all spiced up and herbally too! Thanks for visiting, Louise:) Don't forget June 11th is National German Chocolate Cake Day.

"There is a language "little known,"
Lovers claim it as their own.

It’s symbols smile upon the land
Wrought by Nature’s wondrous hand;

And in their silent beauty speak
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers."

J.S.H from The Language of Flowers,
London, 1875.

Spice Up Your Blog (did you notice the new color in my comment section?)
What is an Herb
How To Play The Picnic Game (video explains the theory behind our Picnic Game:)