A Valentine’s Day guide to roses

Image courtesy Wiki Commons,

By Geneva Pattison

The history of giving flowers as gifts in Western culture dates back to the 17th century, when King Charles II of Sweden first discovered the language of flowers during a trip to Persia.

Different flowers convey different meanings. For example, giving someone yellow carnations indicated disappointment and giving a gift of purple hyacinths meant you were begging for a person’s forgiveness.

Red roses were largely associated with the goddess of love and passion, Aphrodite. According to Greek myth, rose bushes grew upon the ground from Aphrodite’s fallen tears, dropping on her lover Adonis’s blood.

Eventually, roses became the flower most synonymous with Valentine’s day and it is estimated that over 250 million roses are produced every year for the special day of romance. Traditionally, the most popular gift to give or receive are red, long stemmed cut roses, but does most popular really mean they’re the best gift? Let’s weigh in and examine some of the alternative options for rose lovers. 

The colour of love

A bunch of roses will always be the definitive go-to choice for floral Valentine’s gifts. Nevertheless, there are still a few things you could consider before purchasing. As previously mentioned, the colour of a rose tells a unique story, what would you like your rose to say?

Red roses represent beauty and romance. A classic way to say I love you.

Pink roses convey gentle sweetness and admiration. These would offer a heartfelt reminder to your loved one that you truly cherish their kindness.

Yellow roses mean cheer, warmth and the joy a person brings to your life. Perfect for romantic partners, family members or friends. Let them know how much happiness they bring to you.

White roses convey purity remembrance and new beginnings. White roses are also a traditional wedding symbol for true love, known as the “bridal rose”. Are you thinking of proposing on Valentine’s day? This could be a delightful addition to your proposal plans.

Orange roses represent energy, passion and creativity. Is it you’re first Valentine’s day as a couple? Show your enthusiasm for the new relationship with these flowers, maybe paired with an exciting date!

Peach-coloured roses represent gratitude. Show your appreciation with a tender, loving thank you.

Lavender roses mean love at first sight. Have you known this person for a while and Valentine’s day is your first official date? Tell them that you knew from the get go that they were that special someone.

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Scent is another key factor in selecting both cut and potted roses. Traditionally, the beautiful fragrance associated with this flower is most commonly attributed to the classic English rose. However, there are many other interesting varieties of roses that have complex and subtly intricate notes of aroma. 

The old French gallica rose, “Charles de Mills,” has a deep magenta colour, with a petal structure resembling that of a peony. It is primarily famed for the richness of its scent. The 17th century Philosopher, Sir Francis Bacon, wrote on the topic of this rose. He noted that “They are fast flowers of their smells.” In other words, the petals are retentive of scented oil, which of course makes them ideal for potpourri and for flavouring wines, preserves and confectionery. Charles de Mills has a deeply floral and resinous fragrance, akin to retsina wine. The Charles de Mills rose is more suited to a planting pot, rather than a bouquet. However this hardy, sun loving and fragrant shrub would make an excellent Valentine’s Day gift that would last year after year in a garden. 

The striking floribunda rose, “Doris Day”, is an excellent flower to use in bouquets. Just like the bright hair of the much-loved actress who inspired its name, its bright yellow colour will bring a ray of sunshine into anyone’s life and its fragrance has been likened to spiced fruit. If you are buying a potted “Doris Day” rose, a wonderful aspect of this flower is that it is disease resistant. 

Paradise roses are a most unusual variety of flowers. Although it is classed as a hybrid tea rose with a discreet scent, its colour combination is rather striking and certainly deserving of attention. It consists of dark green stems with predominantly lavender-coloured petals, with blushed edges of vibrant fuschia.

The colour variegation is induced when the flower is growing in a hotter climate, but too much direct sun can cause the petals to burn. Much like the Doris Day rose, this plant also has disease resistant foliage. 

Botanic Gardens: Budding romance

The Botanic Gardens are offering an alternative ‘date’ idea for lovers of nature, that’s if you’ve completely had enough of roses, in the shape of their guided “Budding Romance” tour. It will involve a stroll around the gardens, while learning about everything from the ties between love and metamorphosis in the age of Greek legend to romance in the bird world. As mentioned in the event information, the roses in the gardens won’t be at their peak, in terms of appearance, so it will be more of a celebration of spring blooms with a romantic twist. The tour will take place from 3pm to 4pm, on the 14th and 15th of February and tickets are €5. 

For further information about the Botanic Gardens event, visit http://botanicgardens.ie/event/themed-tour-budding-romance-2/?instance_id=4265

Tickets cost €5 per person, book online through the link below