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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Roses Speak A Language All Their Own

Phyllis Stephens The Spokesman-

A rose is a rose, is a rose. … Say it with roses. … Roses are red, violet are blue. … A rose by any other name is still a rose (or is that a tree?).

Roses, roses, roses.

In keeping with today’s frivolousness, I thought I would explore this most honored flower’s past and its potential by whipping up a batch of “rose potpourri.”

Have you ever wondered why the rose became the symbol of love and romance? Roses have their roots thousands of years ago. Their fragrance and beauty were winning hearts in the days of the caveman.

According to the book “Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun” by Donald Dossey, red roses were sacred to Bacchus, the god of wine and joy, and to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Even Cupid (who, by the way, was a handsome, debonair fellow) had a few run-ins with the red rose.

According to mythology, while Cupid was carrying a vase full of sweet nectar to the gods, he spilled it on the ground. From that spot, red roses sprung to life. (There must be more to that story.)

Cupid was also credited for giving the rose its thorns. While sniffing one of these fragrant beauties, he was stung by a bee. Venus was outraged. She had Cupid shoot a group of bees and string them up on one of his arrows. She planted the string of dead bees on a rose cane. The stingers became thorns.

You may have thought giving roses was a very romantic way of saying “I love you.” But according to “A Gift Book of Roses” by Bronwyn Hilton, roses have their own language. Based on their color and type, you may be saying more than you thought you were saying. A red rose proclaims love, but a deep red rose announces embarrassment, timidness or shame. The following are a few interpretations of the rose language:

Red rosebud: pure and lovely.

A single rose: simplicity.

A spray of white roses: secrecy.

Thorned roses: love is bittersweet.

Thornless roses: love’s beginnings.

White and red together: unity.

A single white rose: I will prove myself worthy of you.

A yellow rose: jealously.

Most of us don’t speak “fluent rose.” This may explain the origin of the phrase, “a rose is a rose, is a rose.”

Though roses are most often enjoyed in a vase, they can also delight our tastebuds. We can brew a cup of rose tea, mix up a rose salad, a bowl of rose soup or nibble on rose sandwiches. To add a bit of delicate charm to a fancy dessert we can fashion chocolate rose leaves or crystallized whole roses.

To make chocolate leaves, select a half-dozen or so perfect rose leaves of different sizes. Wash and dry them thoroughly. Melt dark or milk chocolate in a double boiler. Using a paintbrush, coat the undersides of each leaf with the chocolate. Be careful not to get any on the upper side of the leaf. Lay the leaves out to dry on wax paper. Repeat with a second coat of chocolate. Once the second coat has dried, carefully separate the leaf from the chocolate. Cluster the chocolate leaves together to form a flower or use them as leaves to garnish sweet treats.

Crystallizing a rose or its petals is quite simple and loads of fun, even for children. It takes one egg white, sifted confectioner’s sugar and a rose. Whip the egg white until frothy but not stiff. Dip the rose into the egg white, then into the sugar. Gently shake off any excess sugar and lay the rose onto wax paper to dry. They’re beautiful.

We must have a dish of rose potpourri. Here’s a recipe from the “Hemphill’s Book of Herbs:”

4 cups dried flowers and leaves

1 tablespoon orris powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of essential oil

Gather the flowers during the growing season, including other favorites that mix well with roses, such as fragrant lavender, citrus, jasmine, lemon verbena and scented geraniums. Measure the dried flowers and crushed leaves into a covered container such as a glass jar. Mix orris powder, cinnamon and oil into the dried material and let stand for two or three weeks.

And finally: That gorgeous bouquet of roses sitting on your coffee table can be preserved forever by simply drying it. Either hang the roses upside-down in a warm, dark space or dry them in silica gel, the food dehydrator or the microwave. Once dried, they can be worked into decorative wreaths or everlasting bouquets.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

, DataTimes MEMO: Phyllis Stephens is a horticultural consultant and landscape designer in Spokane.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Phyllis Stephens The Spokesman-Review

Phyllis Stephens is a horticultural consultant and landscape designer in Spokane.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Phyllis Stephens The Spokesman-Review

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