Why a rose?

Rosa canina pink dog-rose

Iowans appreciate a good history lesson. We look for references from the past when we plot our future. It is no different when it comes to farming or gardening. This week Linn County Master Gardener Lori Klopfenstein explores the rose and its place is history.
Why are rose references so popular in history?
Listening to a favorite Christmas carol the other day, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” I finally began to wonder: Why a rose? It turns out that the rose in this 15th century German hymn is a symbol for Mary, mother of Jesus.  Hence I began wondering about other biblical references to roses, and whether or not it is native to the Middle East.  Perhaps the most widely recognized Biblical rose reference is the rose of Sharon mentioned in Song of Solomon.  That flower is not believed to be a rose at all, but is more likely a crocus, narcissus or tulip.  However, there are two varieties of rose which are native to that region, the pale pink dog-rose (Rosa canina) and white Phoenician rose (Rosa phoenicia).  Both are single-flowering varieties.
It was a student of Aristotle who brought roses to the scientific forefront.  Aristotle, who lived and taught in Athens during the fourth century B.C., included in his teachings activities of the garden at his academy. That garden contained plants common to the Mediterranean region and Asia.  When Aristotle retired, he passed on the study and supervision of this garden to his student Theophrastus.  It was Theophrastus who wrote two treatises, Historia plantarum (History of Plants), and De causis plantarum (On the Causes of Plants).  One of the topics Theophrastus pursued avidly was proper rose planting techniques.  He promoted the flower highly for its scent, which may have secured its popularity in classical Greece (though it was the Egyptians who managed to corner the rose trade throughout the Mediterranean region).
It was roses which allowed the artist Redoute’ to uncommonly achieve success during his lifetime.  Pierre-Joseph Redoute’ was hired by Marie Antoinette as a draftsman but was eventually put to work painting the gardens of Petit Trianon, her private palace at Versailles.  Unlike many other members of that court, Redoute’ managed to survive the revolution and continue his artistic documentation of French gardens.  He is best remembered for Les Roses, a book published between 1817-1824 of images printed using a technique called stippled engraving.  He did not invent this technique, but he was widely regarded as its master.  This book earned Redoute’ the nickname “Rembrandt of roses.”
Enough random socio-historical facts about roses?  Here is some legitimate, horticultural advice.  Now is the time to mound the crowns of your roses with compost as it should not have been done before the ground froze.  Wait until Spring to trim canes. Tie up any canes which could potentially sustain wind damage, and if you need to cover canes, do so with burlap.  The secret to sustaining roses over the winter is not to keep the canes warm, rather to keep them frozen so that they remain dormant.  Any pruning should be done in the spring once the canes begin to green and die back is apparent.  Also level the mounded soil at the crown once it thaws. To download free pamphlets on roses and their care, visit the ISU Extension Online Store.
Winter Tree ID
Saturday, December 14th, 10am-12pm at the Wickiup Hill Learning Center (10260 Morris Hills Rd, Toddville)
Join us for a leisurely hike (or snowshoe if we have enough snow) through the woodlands at the center.  The trees may look bare, but there are a number of clues which can tip us off as to who they are and their benefits to wildlife and people.
Cost:$2.50/adult, $1/child 16 and under, or $5/family.
Disasters: Landscape Effects
Saturday, December 14th, 1pm at Indian Creek Nature Center (6665 Otis Rd SE, Cedar Rapids)
The first of two disaster-oriented programs looks at the changing landscape of Mt. Rainier National Park. The park was closed for 6 months in 2005 following a large flood that destroyed roads and infrastructure. Recent floods, debris flows, outburst floods and glacial recession is tied into changing climates at the park and indicate the possibility of a dynamic future. National Park Service Geologist Scott Beason presents his investigation into the tie between seemingly unrelated geologic and climatic forces at work in the changing landscape at Mt. Rainier.
Registration:Visit http://www.indiancreeknaturecenter.org or call 319.362.0664.
Cost:Members: $5, Non-members: $7. Attend this session and the Preparedness program for $8 (Members) or $10 (Non-members).
Disasters: Are you Prepared?
Saturday, December 14th, 2:30pm at Indian Creek Nature Center (6665 Otis Rd SE, Cedar Rapids)
The second of our disaster programs, presented by Rich Patterson. Many of us are unprepared for a natural disaster that could shut down utilities, stores, roads and other services. Learn about emergency food preparation, storm protection, preventing home freeze-ups, and more to help you survive such losses for at least a week.
Registration: Visit http://www.indiancreeknaturecenter.orgor call 319.362.0664.
Members: $5, Non-members: $7. Attend this session and the Landscape program for $8 (Members) or $10 (Non-members).
photo credit: www.flickr.com, no adaptions from the original image have been made

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