A Simple Rose

Roses have had meaning since the dawn of time. Everyone knows that a red rose is a symbol for love, but did you know that when you give a bouquet of white and red roses, it means unity?
In Victorian times, suitors would present a bouquet to their intended that held much meaning once the flowers were looked at. These bouquets were called "tussie-mussies" and every courtship began with their presentation. The content of these tokens often changed as the relationship did until the bride walked down the aisle with the most meaningful bouquet.

History of the Rose

Roses have a long and colorful history. They have been symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics. The rose is, according to fossil evidence, 35 million years old. In nature, the genus Rosa has some 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, from Alaska to Mexico and including northern Africa. Garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, probably in China. During the Roman period, roses were grown extensively in the Middle East. They were used as confetti at celebrations, for medicinal purposes, and as a source of perfume. Roman nobility established large public rose gardens in the south of Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the popularity of roses seemed to rise and fall depending on gardening trends of the time.
During the fifteenth century, the rose was used as a symbol for the factions fighting to control England. The white rose symbolized York, and the red rose symbolized Lancaster, as a result, the conflict became known as the "War of the Roses."
Roses were in such high demand during the seventeenth century that royalty considered roses or rose water as legal tender, and they were often used as barter and for payments. Napoleon's wife Josephine established an extensive collection of roses at Chateau de Malmaison, an estate seven miles west of Paris in the 1800s. This garden became the setting for Pierre Joseph Redoute's work as a botanical illustrator. In 1824, he completed his watercolor collection "Les Rose," which is still considered one of the finest records of botanical illustration.
It wasn't until the late eighteenth century that cultivated roses were introduced into Europe from China. Most modern-day roses can be traced back to this ancestry. These introductions were repeat bloomers, making them unusual and of great interest to hybridizers, setting the stage for breeding work with native roses to select for hardiness and a long bloom season. Many of these early efforts by plant breeders are of great interest to today's gardeners.

Meanings of the Rose

  • Red roses say “I love you” and also stand for respect and courage. Rosebuds symbolize beauty, youth and a heart innocent of love or: “You are young and beautiful.” Red rosebuds mean “pure and lovely” and white rosebuds signify girlhood or “too young to love.” The moss rosebud stands for confessions of love.

  • A single rose stands for simplicity. In full bloom, it means “I love you” or “I love you still,” and a bouquet of roses in full bloom signifies gratitude.

  • White roses have several meanings: “You’re heavenly,” reverence and humility, innocence and purity, “I’m worthy of you,” and secrecy and silence.

  • Red and white roses together, or white roses with red edges, signify unity.

  • Pink roses in general symbolize grace and gentility. For more subtle shades of meaning, choose deep pink to stand for gratitude and appreciation. Light pink conveys admiration and sympathy.

  • Yellow roses usually stand for joy and gladness, but can also say “try to care.”

  • Red and yellow blends stand for jovial and happy feelings.

  • Coral or orange roses denote enthusiasm and desire.

  • A deep burgundy rose means “unconscious beauty.”

  • Pale colors convey sociability and friendship.

  • Hybrid tea roses mean “I’ll remember you always” and sweetheart roses symbolize just what their name implies.

  • Two roses taped or wired together to form a single stem signal an engagement or coming marriage.

  • A full blown rose placed over two buds forms a combination that signifies secrecy.

  • Withered white roses have two meanings: fleeting beauty and “you made no impression.”

  • A crown made of roses signifies reward or virtue.

  • Rose leaves are a symbol of hope.

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