Where Should I Plant My Garden?

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” Audrey Hepburn

Here Comes the Sun!

HERE_COMES_THE_SUN by Marianthi Mandani
If you decide to grow most types of beans or artichokes, for instance, you’ll need a spot that is sunny for most of the day. On the other hand, if you want to grow lettuce or spinach feel need a spot which offers some shade.

But how do you know which spot is sunny at 12 pm but shady at 4 pm or vice-versa? By checking the light and shadow patterns during the day.

Place wood stakes in the areas you’re considering for your garden. Record the times when each area is fully covered with sunlight and the times when shadows appear. In general, you’ll want an area that receives at least six hours of sun. Again, your choice of plants will play a role in the amount of sun your garden should receive.

Examples of plants which require full sun:
• Artichoke • Asparagus • Beans • Beets • Broccoli • Brussels Sprouts • Carrot • Cauliflower • Celery • Corn • Tomato • Pumpkin

Examples of plants which do well in partial shade:
• Arugula • Cabbage • Endive • Horseradish • Lettuce • Spinach • Peas • Swiss Chard • Radish • Rhubarb

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Climate will influence your selection of the fruits and vegetables you can grow successfully. Most areas in North America are located in a temperate zone which is unaffected by the extreme heat of the tropics and frigid cold of the polar circles.

However, that doesn’t mean that all of North America has the same weather conditions, as you already know. There are areas that are drier and hotter, and others with cooler, wetter conditions. Your plans should always reflect your local weather conditions.

Most plants have a range of air temperatures in which they thrive. Most common vegetables are divided into two categories: cool season and warm season. Obviously, these vegetables vary in their planting requirements and in the conditions they will tolerate.

Examples of cool weather crops:
• Arugula • Beets • Broccoli • Brussels Sprouts • Cabbage • Cauliflower • Collard • Kale • Lettuce • Onion • Spinach Turnip

Examples of warm weather crops:
• Cantaloupe • Carrot • Corn • Cucumber • Eggplant • Lima Beans • Pumpkin • Potato • Snap Bean • Sweet Potato • Tomato

Map it Out!

garden planner
garden planner at Amazon
It sounds like a lot of work, but again, preparation is key. Now, that you know which areas receive the best sunlight for your planned crops, and where you have the best access to water and good soil, you need to do a little more groundwork.

Your site has to be free from underground utility lines. Local utility companies will happily locate and stake out their underground lines if you contact them.

Create your map, by first taking a photo of the site to map out the garden. Shoot the photo from a point which allows a full view of your entire garden area. Now, you draw a design of the area and mark the shady areas or any areas which have obstructions such as roots, large rocks, or slopes.

Rose Cuttings Propagation


If you’re like me, you may have envisioned nurseries growing rose bushes from seedlings. Or you may even think of them growing from smaller plants, like when you bring home small tomato plants. If that’s your conception — and it is for many who are just starting the hobby — you’ll be surprised to learn how roses really are bred.

Buds or Shoots

Shoots Bud
Shoots Bud

For the most part, the roses you buy at most retail outlets today are grafted or more appropriately budded. This means that the buds or shoots of a specific rose are attached to the roots of a second rose. This second rose is called the rootstock.

Once attached, they grow together to create one plant. The point at which two parts are joined is referred to as the bud union. Later in this blog, I’ll refer more to this particular part of the rose.

Not only that but on most plants that you buy, you’ll be able to identify this section with relative ease. This point is usually slightly swollen. If for some reason, you can’t see this point and you know without a doubt the rose is grafted, you can safely assume the bud union is then the point where several main stems or canes join the base of the plant.

Top Growth

Canes which are attached either above or directly at the bud union are called “the top growth.” These are nearly always those of the desired rose. On rare occasions, a plant produces what’s called “sport”. This is a shoot with traits that differ from the rest of the plant. Traits like vigor, habit or even flower color could be among these types of traits on occasion.


rose suckering
rose suckering

If the cane emerges below the bud union, it’s called a sucker. These are outgrowths of the rose which was used as the rootstock. If left to grow, the sucker usually crowds out the desired top growth. Most people remove these as soon as they recognize them. It’s best to snap these off where they come out at the root, rather than just cutting them off at the ground level. If you don’t do this, the plant is likely to continue to produce another sucker at this same point.

You may be confused at first by some of the other terminologies, rose lovers used to describe their growths. Once you get a handle on this, you get a better idea of not only what these individuals are talking about, but you’ll gain a better understanding and enjoyment of your gardening habit.

Grafted or Own-root

Once you’ve decided on which roses you’re planting, then you have a second choice to make — one you may not have thought much about up until now.

Are you going to buy a grafted or “own-root” plant. Either choice has advantages attached to it, as well as disadvantages.

Grafted plants are essentially the top growth of the desired rose attached to the roots of another rose — called the rootstock. This method of propagation allows the producers of these plants to quickly create a garden-ready plant. It also allows a better variety of rootstocks to suit a particular growing condition.

dr. huey rose
dr. huey rose from Arnold Stegall on Pinterest

Three rootstocks are among the most commonly used in the United States.

  1. The first is called ‘Dr. Huey’. This one tolerates average to dry conditions and alkaline soil conditions.
    FORTUNIANA ROOTSTOCK by Malcolm Manners
    The second is ‘Fortuniana’. This particular rootstock is well suited to hot climates. It tolerates nematodes that are soil-borne pests. It needs to be fertilized regularly and generously. You may also discover that it may take an extra year or two to settle into its new home as well as produce some good top growth. If you choose this type, then you need to be patient with it.
  3. Rosa-multiflora-Flower
    And the third type is called ‘Rosa multflora’, which adapted quite well to cold climates. Not only that, but it also tolerates acidic soil and nematodes well.

Fascinating and Frustrating

Now here’s the kicker, it’s what makes growing roses so fascinating and so frustrating at the same time. The same top growth grafted onto different rootstocks can perform differently. That’s why two roses with the same name but bought by different sources may differ drastically in their performance.

For the most part, you just don’t know which rootstock a plant has been grafted to. But, for the best results, seek out suppliers who can tell you what rootstocks they’ve used. Then they’ll be able to tell you whether the rootstock itself is suited to your area.

Own-root Roses

In the last few years, a new trend among rose growers have occurred. More nurseries offer roses propagated by cuttings. These cuttings, in turn, actually form their own roots.

Survive Winter

As you can imagine, this method has several benefits. First, many of these plants survive winter weather much better. They tend to live longer and their chances of developing the rose mosaic virus, a common rose disease is minimized.

If by chance, the cold weather kills the top growth of one of these plants, the odds are in your favor that new growth will actually sprout from the roots. And the good news here is that the new growth will be the same rose you originally chose.

This is in contrast to the grafted rose. When a grafted rose dies, the new growth will be whatever the rootstock was and for you, that’ll be a surprise. Chances are it’ll be nothing like your original choice.

You Decide

So now you have yet another decision to make in choosing your roses. Some rose hobbyists love the own-root roses. Others, however, feel the benefits of selecting the rootstock make the grafted plant a better choice. But only you can decide.

If you really can’t make up your mind (and while you’re new at this, you may not really have much of an opinion), why not choose one or two of each? In this way, you’ll have some experience with each kind.

Knockout Rose Varieties

Knockout rose
Knockout rose is selling like hotcakes

It’s the latest entry into the rose family and its youth alone deserves a mention. I’m talking about the rose that has just about every rosarian talking: The Knockout Rose.

Perhaps the pure simplicity of this rose is what so inspiring to many. Indeed, its ease of growing is what attracts some. Either way, if you’re new to growing roses, it’s definitely a variety of rose you may want to think about adding to your garden.

Grows as a Shrub

The Knock Out rose grows as a shrub to about three feet tall and about the same dimensions wide. It products cluster of blooms — beautiful cherry red ones approximately three inches in diameter. And much to every rose lover’s delight, these blooms continue to repeat blossoming throughout the growing season. According to some rose experts, the Knock Out rose has one of the longest blooming flowers on the market today.

One Disadvantage

If this plant has a disadvantage, it’s the flower itself isn’t suited well to being a cut flower. It’s fragrance, moreover, is light and delicate, similar to the tea rose.

Developer, William Radler

William Radler

This new rose — which many have even called revolutionary, is not much more than 20 years old — a mere child in the ancient rose family. The developer, William Radler, sought a rose which would be a hardy repeat bloomer. His development began with nearly 600 seedlings a year grown under fluorescent lights in his basement.

Crossed The Seedlings

Then, 1988, Radler crossed the seedlings of a variety called the Carefree Beauty with the Razzle Dazzle. Both of these plants are hardy ones. By the year 2000, the hybrid had won the prestigious All-America Rose award.

It took little time for the Knock Out Rose to take the country by storm. In its first year on the market, it became the fastest-selling new rose in history. More than 250,000 were sold in that initial year alone.

Rosarians Discover It

Red Double Knockout Rose
Red Double Knockout Rose by Tony Alter Flickr

As this particular variety of rose matures, and more rosarians discover it, you can imagine how it will grow in popularity. In the meantime, Radler is wasting no time developing sisters and cousins of this plant. He recently introduced the Double Knock Out rose.

If you’re thinking about starting out your rose-growing experience with this particular variety, you still need to provide it plenty of sunlight. The rose can thrive in some light shade. The plant, like all roses, needs fertile well-drained soil.

Put Among the Low Evergreen Shrubs

white knockout rose
white knockout rose is a rarity

And as shrub roses, their appearance in the wintertime isn’t all that pretty. That’s a definite consideration when you’re deciding just where in your garden to plant it. You may want to plant it among the low evergreen shrubs. In this way, you’re compensating for its winter nakedness.

Just as with any other shrub rose, you’ll want to prune it just before the new growth starts as well as throughout the growing season to control its size.

How To Transplant Your Roses

Admit it. You’re hooked. You’re hooked on just about everything about roses — from the sweet fragrance to the beauty of the bloom to the overall majestic look of the entire plant.

And now. . . well, you’re determined that you will become a rose grower. Yes, you’ve heard they’re hard to grow . . . needed lots of care . . . just the right soil conditions and indeed even the right climate. But, still, you believe that they’re worth every bit of “trouble” that people told you they are.

Adjust Your Thinking

Before we go any farther, allow me a small adjustment to your thinking. True, specific species of roses are climate sensitive, soil sensitive, even sunlight sensitive.

But the glorious aspect of it all: So many species of roses exist that –with just a little bit of research on your part — you can easily find a rose that will not only survive in your garden or yard — but actually thrive!

The Secret of the Climate Zones

If you believe that you live too far north to plant roses, then you’ve failed to discover the secret of the climate zones. You may hear experienced rose growers refer to it as the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. It’s purpose is clear. Broken down into 11 different climate zones, this map outlines the climate conditions for all 50 states.

You merely need to consult the map, which by the way you can easily find on the web at USDA hardiness map, to discover the zone in which you live.

The next step — as you might easily guess — is to ensure that the roses you’ve chosen are suited for your specific climate zone. Many times, you’ll discover this as you research your choices. At least you’ll receive “hints.” The descriptions will tell you if the rose is overly sensitive to cold, or prefers cooler weather. If these descriptions match your region fairly well, then you know to continue your research.

However, if the rose you’ve come to love can’t stand the cold and you live far north, it’s best to abandon your quest in favor of a similar, but hardier rose.

Some descriptions of roses actually cite the climate zones in which they thrive — this makes your final decision straightforward. If you can find no such descriptions, then the process might come down to paying strict attention to the growing instructions even before you purchase your rose. And one last hint — buy them from a reputable nursery.

You’ll be sure to find what climate zones your chosen rose need. If any of the zones match yours — BINGO! — you’ve got yourself a rose for your garden!

It is truly overwhelming if you’re just beginning.

Literally volumes have been written about the basics alone of growing roses. And as I delve more deeply into your new-found love, you can explore more books . . . as well as more online resources. But, I would hate for you to be paralyzed with information overload.

I’m presenting the necessities to get you started — enough to give you confidence in the beginning, but not so much as to scare you off this wonderful hobby.

First, you’ll want to decide where exactly you’re going to plant your new flowers. Of course, this was one of the questions you’re already pondering, so it really comes as no surprise.

Sun and roses

Let me tell you what a rose really needs in order to thrive. Every rose — no matter its kind — need six hours of sunlight daily, and more the better, in order to develop to their fullest. I can see you looking up at the sky now. Even as I write this I look out my window and see a dreary, cloudy day. My initial thought is that my roses are being deprived.

Relax. While, yes, roses do need six hours of sunlight a day, it doesn’t have to be continual sunlight. This may seem hard for some of us in certain parts of the country to realize, but every segment of the nation receives some clouds now and then.

And to be truthful, some roses really appreciate an array of different sunlight. Many types appreciate the morning sun, then prefer some midday shade before they’re ready to take in another burst of the afternoon sun. Six hours of sunlight may seem like quite a bit, but when you break it up like I just have . . . it’s really not so much.

Now, if you really have your heart set on growing roses and you know you just can’t provide a space with a minimum of six hours of sun, don’t give up. Not just yet at least.

Yes, it is possible to grow roses in an environment that offers less than six hours of sun. But what you’ll need to do upfront is “experiment” with several types of roses to see which particular kinds fill your needs.

The key to making this work is not to be disappointed when your first choice fails the test — because in all possibility it just might. You need to keep looking for the “ultimate rose” for your garden.

If you receive less than six hours of sun . . .

Start with a species of rose noted for tolerating shade. These include the alba and hybrid musk roses. While you’re choosing at this point, include in your search those flowers that are a little hardier and more disease-resistant than others.

I mention this with good reason, it’s not just a recommendation I throw out there lightly. Roses that thrive in the shade sometimes are noted for being more susceptible to developing diseases. So if you can find a rose that both tolerates the shade well and can stand up to diseases, you’re increasing the odds of its survival.

Well-drained Soil

Roses don’t like soggy soil. It’s a fact. Despite the fact that roses grow best and are most beautiful when they receive a steady supply of moisture, they don’t grow well planted in soggy soil. Of course, most other flowers don’t either.

The places you don’t want to plant your roses are in those areas where the water tends to stand idle after a rain or those regions where the soil stays “squishy” under your feet for more than a few hours following a rain.

If you can’t find any areas like this around your house, don’t think you can’t raise roses. You’ll just have to improvise some. One way to solve this problem is by lifting the soil level through the building of raised flowerbeds.

Test your soil before you make your final decision

Specifically, you’ll want to know what the pH balance of the soil in which you’re planting your roses. If you’ve never done this before and are hesitant about doing this alone, then do what I did when I was unsure.

I called my local Cooperative Extension Service. Not only did they help me check the acidity and alkaline levels of my soil, but they gave me right-on advice about how to adjust them to make the soil “rose friendly.” They also helped me with adjusting nutrient levels in this area as well.

The level of your garden, I can’t emphasize enough, is a crucial step in ensuring the health of your roses. It’s much easier to take care of these matters before you physically plant your roses, then try to correct the situation while the roses are in the soil.

Tropical Gardening Design Ideas

How to plant a tropical garden video 1:08 minutes

Pick Your Tropical Plants
Tropical Plant

Tropical gardens have become quite popular in more recent years because the plants that you can grow in this type of garden are full of gorgeous colors. Tropical plants often have a more unique look about them too, which makes them all the more appealing for areas of the country where everyone seems to plant the same things in their gardens.

Beneficials Are Attracted To Tropical Gardens
butterfly meal

Tropical gardens often attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds too, and this makes the garden all the more enjoyable throughout the year. Tropical gardens can contain a wide variety of plants, but some require lots of heat while others require lots of water.

Most Admired Plant Here is The Bougainvillea

Some tropical garden plants such as bougainvillea, thrive on irregular watering patterns. The bougainvillea plant, for example, is natural in areas of the world where there could be pouring rain for weeks, then months of dry spells. You can mimic these conditions when growing bougainvillea plants in your tropical garden by watering them really well for a week or two, then not watering them for at least a month. You’ll find that these tropical plants seem to bloom best when they’ve been stressed or kept dry for extended periods of time.

Bougainvillea plants can be grown in a variety of ways too. Most varieties will climb as a vine in the right conditions and with the right care, but these plants can also be shaped and pruned into small shrubs and bushes too. Bougainvillea plants have hook-like thorns on them which can hurt if you’re stabbed by them, but these thorns are what allow the plant to climb fences and trellises, and create a gorgeous display of color.

Bougainvillea tends to create tiny flowers that most people miss. The flowers are surrounded by paper-thin bracts which bloom in a variety of bold, beautiful colors, and most people think these bracts are the actual flowers of the plant. The flowers themselves though, are tiny and located inside the bracts.

Other Excellent Plants
Esperanza and Spanish Broom are two more excellent plants to put into a tropical garden. These plants do quite well in really dry gardens too, because they’re both heat and drought tolerant, which makes these beautiful plants quite hardy and tough. Despite their toughness though, both of these plants produce gorgeous, bright showy yellow flowers that bloom continuously from spring through fall.

Butterfly Garden Design

butterfly meal

A butterfly meal

Creating a butterfly garden design is another wonderful way to enjoy nature in your yard and garden. Like birds, creating gardens that will attract butterflies is as easy as putting out plants, water features, and housing areas designed just for them.

The Best
One of the best kinds of plants you can have in a butterfly garden is a butterfly bush. These grow quite fast and large though, so you’ll need to make sure you have room before planting them.

It’s not uncommon for a butterfly bush to grow four feet or more in a year, so if you have friends or family who already grow them, you may want to consider taking a cutting from theirs to get yours started. Butterfly bushes come in a variety of colors too, so you’ll be able to pick and choose your favorites, or colors that compliment the rest of your garden design.

Use a Weed for The Butterflies

butterfly weed

Another excellent plant to put in your garden which works wonderfully for attracting butterflies is called a butterfly weed. These are much smaller than the bushes, so they can be grown in small garden spaces or patio containers.

Create Their Habitat
There is a wide variety of plants and flowers which will attract butterflies to your garden. Butterflies like nectar just as hummingbirds do though, so sometimes you can attract both into the same garden. One of the most difficult parts of creating a butterfly garden though is the amount of time you must be patient. Butterflies take time to develop. You must create habitats that are friendly for both the grown butterflies and the larvae caterpillars which will emerge from the eggs they lay.

Now for the Caterpillars

Monarch caterpillar

Once the eggs hatch too, your new caterpillars will start eating the host plants too. Many gardeners who aren’t familiar with this cycle will sometimes think something is wrong with their garden when they see spots caterpillars have been feeding on, so the Spray chemicals thinking that the plants have some Kind of bug or disease. If you spray the plants of course though, you’ll usually kill the caterpillars. And if you do that of course, you won’t end up with any butterflies.

Butterfly Houses

Now in addition to putting plants and flowers in your garden to attract butterflies, there are little butterfly houses you can buy for both decoration and functionality too. Like birdhouses, butterfly houses will provide butterflies safe and comfortable places to live, nest, and lay eggs. So providing these in your garden is almost guaranteed to start helping you build an active butterfly community in your yard.

They Need Water

Birdbath for birds and butterflies
Birdbath for birds and butterflies
Butterflies like water features too though, so be sure you’re providing this in an easily accessible area of your butterfly garden. If you don’t mind having different wildlife using the same things in your garden, you’ll probably be fine using a birdbath for both birds and butterflies. Birdbath for birds and butterflies. Just be sure to clean it out regularly without soap or chemicals, so it will stay a healthy and fun place for the wildlife to bath, drink, and play.

Bulb Garden Designs

Bulb Garden

Bulb gardens tend to be a favorite of many, particularly when you want a formal looking garden which has lots of vibrant, cheery color in it. When you mention bulb gardens to most people though, they automatically think you’re talking about tulips or daffodils. There are in fact though, many variations of plants that grow from bulbs.

Favorite Bulb Types

Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths are some of the most popular types of flowers to grow in a bulb garden, but others you may like include many different kinds of Lily flowers, snowdrops, crocus, dahlias, canna lilies, irises, begonias, amaryllis, and many others. All of these bulb flowers are gorgeous in almost any type of garden you can imagine. They come in a large variety of sizes, colors, textures, and shapes, plus they blossom wonderfully throughout a variety of months each year.

Flower Bulbs

Cannes lily

A bulb garden starts with flower bulbs. Bulbs are the “root” of the plant essentially, and this is where the food is stored during winter months while the plants themselves are dormant. Once springtime comes though, or the particular part of the year which is best for your chosen bulb garden flowers, new shoots and leaves will sprout from the buried bulb, and grow into a gorgeous full-grown blooming plant.

Need Spring or Fall Bulbs

Bulbs are usually classified as spring bulbs or fall bulbs. Spring bulbs are those which sprout and flower in the springtime, while fall bulbs will flower in the fall. Spring bulbs are actually planted in the fall though, generally from September through October in most parts of the United States, because they need the initial wintering period to prepare for flower production in the springtime.

Fall bulbs are planted from February through April or May in most areas, and these will stay dormant until the leaves begin to turn. Planting a mixture of both fall and spring bulbs in your bulb garden will give you the longest blooming time though, so most bulb gardeners prefer to include both in their gardens.

Bulb Requirements

Bulbs usually need moist rich soil which drains well. They like sunlight too, but they’ll tolerate filtered sunlight usually as well. Bulbs can often be grown in pots or containers instead of the ground too, and sometimes they’ll even grow nicely as an indoor houseplant too.

Natural Habitat?

When planning your bulb garden, try to learn more about the natural habitat of each bulb flower you’ll be planting. Tulips for instance, like warm and dry soil conditions. Daffodils are natural meadow growing flowers, so they love lots of sunlight. Bluebells and snowdrops grow naturally in wooded areas though, so they tend to do best in shadier spots of your garden.

The Anatomy of a Flower

author, LadyofHats
Getting Acquainted With The Physical Characteristics of The Rose and The Passion Behind the Flower

I know! I know! This doesn’t sound very exciting. And it might scream at you to move on. But I assure you that sooner or later you’re going to return to it.

One of two things will occur (or perhaps both). You’re really getting into your hobby of growing roses — which by the way makes you a rosarian. Suddenly, you’re thrown in with other rosarians who are talking about the different areas of their rose plants. And you haven’t a clue what they’re talking about.

So you turn to this chapter to learn the names of some of the more important parts.

Or, you’re really getting into your hobby of growing roses — and you realize you want to learn more about the anatomy of the plant you’ve come to love. BOOM! You find yourself revisiting this page.

I’m confident you’re going to read this page now or later — or now and later! While it may seem boring to you, learning all there is to know about roses can be the most engaging thing on earth, once you’re captivated by their beauty and fragrance.

What’s in a rose?

Let’s take a quick look at the entire plant from the roots on up, shall we?

The roots. These, as with any plant, act as the water supply station for the plant, taking up water and nutrients from the soil. Without a solid root system, your rose just won’t thrive.

Canes or stem. To a rosarian it’s a cane — to your average man or woman on the street, it’s simply a stem. Whatever you call it, it grows from the crown of the plant — just where the cane ends and the roots begin. Rose canes are usually spotted with thorns (which many a philosophy has noted!). But there are some varieties of roses which really are thornless!

Leaves and branching canes. These grow from a part of the rose called the bud eyes, the small buds that sprout at intervals along with the cane. You may not ever have noticed them before. But if you look close enough, you’ll indeed discover them.

The leaves are usually found in five-leaf leaflets. As the rose plant thrives, the new canes sprout from both the crown of the plant and from the junction of the cane and leaflets.

Flowers. The flowers of a rose plant are known by several names: flowers, blooms or blossoms. Take your pick!

Once a flower has finished blooming, though, it’s called a spent bloom. And as you’ll learn, it should be cut off. This action encourages repeat flowering. It’s also called deadheading.

The rate at which a rose plant can actually form a new flower in its place is called a repeat. Most of the modern roses — those developed after the nineteenth century are either everblooming or free blooming. This means that they are producing flowers nearly continuously throughout the growing season.

Rose stamen
Rose stamen is the male part

Stamens. This is the male part of the rose, the portion that produces pollen. It’s made up of the anthers and a filament. If you look closely inside the petals of the rose you’ll see them. Very thin stems topped with rounded objects.

Anthers. Located at the top of the stamens, these parts are actually the pollen producers. This pollen fertilizes the ovules or eggs, located at the bottom of the pistil, which is the female portion of the rose located deep inside the hip of the flower.

And as you might guess from this, rose flowers can self-pollinate. But when this happens the offspring is rarely as healthy or as pretty as the original plant.

Sepals. These are the leaf-like structures covering the rosebud even before they open, protecting them.

Rose bud

The sepals open slowly to reveal the color of the developing flower. Finally, they pull away entirely, allowing the petals of the bud to emerge and unfurl.

Some rosarians consider the sepal an extremely attractive part of the flower, especially so when the feathery ends of the structure extend above the top of the bud.

When the sepals finally drop, allowing the petals to open, their beauty is many times still evident. They create a simply outstanding underpinning to a beautiful flower.

Rose is a Symbol

red and white roses

Rose is a symbol of secrecy, peace, and then today. A less popularly known symbol now, the rose is also a sign of a secret. In sixteenth-century England, for example, a rose was at times worn behind the ears of servants, tavern workers, and others, indicating the wearer had “heard all and told nothing.”

And in Germany, around the same time, diners who found a rose as a centerpiece on their table, knew they could talk freely. Think about it, we even have an expression “sub rosa” which literally means “under the rose.” Historians believe this phrase originated with the custom of carving a rose over the door of the confessionals in a Catholic church.

Even Medieval alchemists — those searching for a way to turn common substances into gold — adopted the rose as a sign of secrecy. They came to symbolize their highly-guarded secrets of their art.

Perhaps no other rose — is so intertwined with history, war and peace than that which was developed in the twentieth century. Its renown is legendary. And its story is, well, the stuff that blockbuster movies and best-selling novels are made of. But what makes this story all the more remarkable is that it’s true.

The Peace Rose

Its tale is not nearly as well-known as it should be. But, there is no better true-life story that epitomizes the hopes and relief of a world following World War II. I’ll not keep you in suspense much longer.

The year is 1935 — June 15 to be exact. The location, France. Francis Meilland and his father pollinated a rose. The following summer, they took a portion of its eyes to graft. By October 16 of that year, the first buds were opening.

Three years passed. It is now 1939 and it appears inevitable that Germany is about to invade France. Meilland sends the eyes of this plant to rose growers he knows in Turkey, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

One of the recipients was Robert Pyle of Canard-Pyle, a well-known and well respect rose distributor and developer. He not only propagated the plants Meilland sent him, but in turn, he sent the results to the American Rose Society for testing.

In 1944, Pyle wrote to Meilland. He told his good friend that he planned to release the plants with the end of the war. A naming ceremony was planned by the Pacific Rose Society Annual Exhibition on April 18, 1945 — the same day that Berlin fell. Pyle thought the name “Peace” would be an appropriate tribute.

At the same time, Dr. Ray Allen, secretary of the ARS sent each of the 49 delegates of the very first meeting of the newly formed United Nations (then held in San Francisco) a single, long-stemmed “Peace” rose and this note: “We hope the ‘Peace’ rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace.”

Did this rose actually inspire a world to negotiate peace? Probably not, but it symbolized hope for future peace. And where there is hope there is life.

And that brings us to today

acres of roses
acres of roses

Buying a dozen? While we may never know if we owe the classic dozen roses to our caveman friend, Ugh, we can say with just about certainty that the roses were grown by a commercial rose grower in huge rose fields in fairly temperate climates (Just try to imagine acres of roses!).

And if you bought your roses in the United States, then the odds almost guarantee that they were grown in one of these three locations: the San Joaquin Valley in California, in Texas or in Arizona.

Roses are grown in these fields for a full two years prior to being harvested. Then the plants are allowed to lie dormant are stored and then bare-rooted — basically this means there is no soil on their roots — in huge, moist, refrigerated facilities to keep them fresh before being shipped to gardeners, nurseries and garden centers in winter or early spring.

Roses In History

Rose History

A Brief Overview and Historical Perspective on Roses

Botanists believe the rose in some form flourished long before humans walked the earth. Pretty hard to believe? Definitely hard to imagine.

It’s thought that the human species has cultivated roses for more than 5,000 years. It makes you wonder . . .

And that’s how roses got to be the official language of love (and 12 became the standard number of roses to deliver!)Okay, so maybe the rose industry didn’t develop this way. But, it’s a nice story nonetheless.

But I happen to know for a fact, though, that some 35 million years ago, roses in some form existed. We’ve got fossil records that record this!

Actual cultivation of roses, however, didn’t occur until nearly 5,000 years ago in one of the most unlikely places (or perhaps you won’t think this so unlikely):


Chinese records indicate that some were cultivating roses in this advanced society as early as the fourth and fifth centuries AD. References to cultivated roses are apparent through the Song Dynasty which ruled from 960 to 1279 AD. These roses were perpetually flowering and raised in large cities.

In fact, the most outstanding fact about this discovery is the sheer number of varieties were already in existence. One city reported it had more than 41 alone.

By the time the Ming Dynasty became established from the years of 1368 to 1644 rose cultivation became a relatively established activity. If you’ve ever heard of the “China rose” then this fact probably doesn’t come as much surprise. It’s a complex of both natural and cultivated hybrid plants that have evolved for more than a thousand years in the gardens of this ancient country.

Perhaps then it’s no coincidence that the wild Tea rose actually came from upper Burma and southwestern China. It wasn’t introduced into Europe until 1888, however, when Sir Henry Collett discovered it in the Shan Hills of Burma.

Roman Period

During the Roman period, the shift to rose cultivation moved toward the Middle East where this flowering plant became extremely popular. Believe it or not, Middle Easterners used the petals as confetti, as well as remedies for various illnesses and, of course, as a source for perfume.

Not only were roses grown in private yards and courtyards, but the Roman nobility established large public rose gardens just south of the city of Rome so the entire population could enjoy these wonderful creations.

After the Roman Empire fell, the popularity of roses appeared to ride in and out of tides of whatever the gardening trend was at the time. Certainly, that’s to be expected. This time was noted — called by many the Dark Ages — didn’t afford your average person the luxury of tending to a flower garden.

But the fate of the rose, well . . . rose again during the fifteenth century when it became the symbol for the factions vying for control of England. The white rose became the symbol for the city of York; the red rose the symbol for Lancaster. And now you know why it is, to this day, called “The War of the Roses.”

During the seventeenth century, roses were in such great demand that royalty declared both roses and rose water legal tender. That means people were legitimately able to make commercial purchases using roses or rose water.


Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, Josephine, loved the flower so much that she established a large and impressive collection of them at Chateau de Malmaison, an estate several miles west of Paris.

The garden soon became the setting for the famous botanical illustrator, Pierre Joseph Redoute. In 1824, he finished his collection of watercolors called “Les Rose.” This is still considered one of the finest records of botanical illustrations ever created.

But it wasn’t until the late eighteenth century that purposely cultivated roses were introduced into Europe from China. And because of this, most modern-day roses actually owe their ancestry to this country.

For the most part, the flowers which were imported from China were repeat bloomers. This was different from what grew naturally in Europe. And this difference intrigued those gardeners of the time.

Not only were individuals intrigued, but they became the overriding interest of some hybridizers. This created the perfect scenario to take the native Chinese plants and breed them with native European plants. Soon, roses were being bred for such traits as hardiness and a longer, lovelier bloom.

Whatever botanists know biologically about this flower and whatever its history as symbols of war, the rose is without a doubt best known as being the international and eternal symbol of love — young love, lasting love, undying love.

How this exactly came to be is lost to the legends of time no doubt. But more than one person has noted the relationship of the word rose the Greek god of love “Eros.” Hard to deny all the letters are there — just in a slightly different order. An anagram if you will. Coincidence?

Romance of the Rose, one of the most popular French poems of the Middle Ages, uses the pursuit of a rose by a lover as an allegory for the philosophy the troubadours of the time had towards the ideal of love.

The famous poet Robert Burns compared the love of his life to a “red, red rose, that’s newly sprung in June.” German wedding customs involve the giving of a silver rose. The groom is required to send one to his bride before the marriage ceremony. This was such a legendary tale, that Richard Strauss fashioned an opera, Der Rosenkavalier around the idea.