Monday, June 4, 2012


I am pretty darn far from a master gardener.  As a matter of fact, Nick does most gardening because I KILL PLANTS.  But, one thing that is my task around here is pruning all of our trees and the raspberry and rose bushes.  Growing up, my parents had this really old, hardy rose bush  and every "dormant season" (late fall to early spring) my dad would cut the thing to the ground, nothing left of it.  And every year, it would grow back just as healthy as before and it would blossom all summer and well into the fall.

We moved in the winter and in the spring, upon seeing a rose bush, I dutifully cut it down to nothing.  It grew lovely, tall stalks... too tall to support their own weight, but there was not one blossom.  The next year, I refrained from cutting it and it blossomed beautifully, but it looked like this:

Lovely, but all over the place.  Last year, I cut it down to nothing again (and again got no flowers), but i put up a trellis and tried to weave it onto it as it grew.  All the weaving did was leave me with oddly bent stalks that still didn't want to stay in the trellis.  This spring, during that incredible march heatwave, I braved the heat and excessive pricks and tied the bush to the trellis with cotton thread.  I was cut up, but it took to it beautifully.

Roses are a very edible (and dare I say tasty?) plant.  A friend of mine, in an attempt to seem crazy, ate his boutinere at the end of every high school dance.  My favorite way to prepare roses is rose petal jelly, which uses exactly the same recipe as the violet jelly, substituting rose petals (JUST the petals) for violet heads.  I made the "tea" up just before we left for vacation and froze it, so it isn't jely yet but it will be soon enough.

You can also make rose hip jelly, but I can't say I have because my little tea roses produce such measley little hips.

When we got home, my poor rose bush had already mostly burnt itself out.  Maybe that's just how it's gonna be, or maybe it was because I wasn't there to pluck the hips off the dead flowers (which you should do if you don't plan on eating them).  Either way, I was able to pick the last few petals and laid them out on a cookie sheet lined with newspaper.  They only took a day or 2 to dry, but then the roses were getting old anyways.

I plan on using the dried roses as a mix-in for some rose-scented hand-milled soap.  I found concentrated rose water where I buy my Essential oils, but you can always make your own...afterall, rose water is a key ingredient to baklava...and any friend of baklava's, is a friend of mine.

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