“A rose is a rose is a rose” - or is it?

Symbol of life and love and devotion

"As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.

The rising of the women means the rising of the race.

No more the drudge and idler – ten that toil where one reposes,

But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"

- from the poem “Bread and Roses” by James Oppenheim, 1911.


“O, my love's like a red, red rose/That's newly sprung in June” — Robert Burns, A Red, Red Rose

“Americans have always loved the flowers with which God decorates our land. More often than any other flower, we hold the rose dear as the symbol of life and love and devotion, of beauty and eternity. For the love of man and woman, for the love of mankind and God, for the love of country, Americans who would speak the language of the heart do so with a rose.” - Proclamation No. 5574 signed by then president Ronald Reagan on Nov. 20, 1986

“Then she gave one last burst of music. The white Moon heard it, and she forgot the dawn and lingered on in the sky. The red rose heard it, and it trembled all over with ecstasy, and opened its petals to the cold morning air. Echo bore it to her purple cavern in the hills, and woke the sleeping shepherds from their dreams. It floated through the reeds of the river, and they carried its message to the sea.

“Look, look!” cried the Tree, “the rose is finished now”; but the Nightingale made no answer, for she was lying dead in the long grass, with the thorn in her heart.” - From the story “The Nightingale and the Rose” by Oscar Wilde

What do Queen Nefertiti, Maria Callas and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu have in common? Well, there might be other things, but one thing I know of is that they all have roses named after them.

There can be few, if any, flowers that have the magic and allure of the rose. Roses have been known since time immemorial and have always exerted a special kind of magic on people.

Catholics have for centuries used a “rosary” (literally, rose garden) in their devotions to Mary, Mother of God. The term “rosary” was first used by on Thomas of Chantimpre, who was writing in the mid-13th Century, though his use of the term was not in reference to the beads.

La France. Image from Ludwig's Roses page
La France. Image from Ludwig's Roses page

A brief history of roses

Roses have been found in fossils more than 30 million years old. We even know the name of the rose found in those fossils – it is rosa gallica. Roses were cultivated in Chinese gardens some 5000 years ago and were sacred in ancient Egypt. In the Stone Age roses were painted on the walls of caves.

The first hybrid tea rose was La France, introduced in 1867 by Jean-Baptiste Guillot. This date is pivotal in rose lore, as all rose types developed prior to that date are termed “old roses” as opposed to the modern roses developed after that date. The hybrid tea is the largest group of roses with more than 6000 registered types.

Hildesheim Cathedral in Germany has a bush reputed to be the oldest in the world at around 1000 years. It grows against the Cathedral to a height of 20 metres.

Tea roses were introduced to Europe in the early 1800s from Asia. Since then they have become the most popular type.

Caitlin and her best friend Rachael on the "tractor train". The old guy in the background is me.
Caitlin and her best friend Rachael on the "tractor train". The old guy in the background is me.
The Archbishop Desmond Tutu rose
The Archbishop Desmond Tutu rose

Ludwig's Roses

On Easter Sunday we spent the morning at the premier rose growing farm in Gauteng Province of South Africa, Ludwig's. It was a fun time, though slightly spoiled by the rain.

There was an Easter Egg hunt, games, a tractor train ride, and competitions for the children, and very yummy food for all of us.

The farm also has a lovely dam with weaver birds' nests hanging over the water on the branches of willows trees. There is the restaurant, called The Spiced Coffee, and a gift shop called Thorns and Thing, where one can buy all kinds of rose-related items, including wonderful rose jams and marmalades created by the owner's daughter Heike.

And then, of course, the roses! Ludwig's has about 1000 varieties of them, and grows about half a million rose plants every year.

I walked through the rows and rows of rose bushes simply entranced by the colours, the varieties, the sheer beauty of the flowers.

“But you must come here in October,” Ludwig Taschner, founder and owner of the farm said to me. “In October the flowers are simply magnificent.”

Mental note – go back in October!

I saw roses named after a rugby player (Naas Botha); and Afrikaans pop singer (Karika Keuzenkamp), 'La Divina' Maria Callas, the Dalai Lama, and murdered South African student Leigh Matthews. Then there were also the less flamboyant, but no less beautiful, simple roses, like the floribunda Simply Charming, a delicate pink blossom.

The rose that I most looked out for was the one named for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. I found it and loved its deep glowing red colour. The Ludwig's on-line catalogue (http://www.ludwigsroses.co.za/) describes it best: “When Archbishop Desmond Tutu turned 75 in October I was asked to name a rose after him as he and his wife Leah, are great lovers of roses. A sparkling red rose - the rose of love - was chosen and I presented it to him at his birthday bash with my advice that all it needed was water and prayer! He accepted it with his great chuckle but I was (almost) serious. Like Archbishop Desmond this rose is a rugged survivor that flowers under the toughest of conditions. It produces a profusion of long lasting blooms that appear all over the glossy green, leafy background, and call out 'greetings' from afar. The tight pointed buds open into a full nostalgic cup shaped bloom that draws the eye for a closer inspection. The bush itself grows into a loosely branched shrub of neat proportions that has the ability to sprout flowering stems from base to tip from spring into winter.”

Herr Ludwig Taschner
Herr Ludwig Taschner
The entrance to the farm with its magnificent giant rose - have you ever seen a rose that size?!
The entrance to the farm with its magnificent giant rose - have you ever seen a rose that size?!

The story of Ludwig Taschner

Master rose grower Ludwig Taschner was born in Germany during the war years in the part which subsequently became the German Democratic Republic (DDR), commonly known as East Germany. He escaped from there in 1960 after getting training as a nurseryman. In West Germany, Switzerland and England he gained experience and while in England decided to specialise in roses.

Herr Taschner came to Pretoria in 1962 and founded Ludwig's Roses in March 1971, having spent the intervening years working for another large nursery business.

The farm is now run by Herr Taschner and his son Halmar, while his two daughters also contribute. Older daughter Heike is responsible for the delicious rose derived syrups, jams and marmalades which are sold in the shop on the farm. Younger daughter Anja is an artist and also contributes to the business, running the miniature pot rose production department.

There is a butterfly tunnel on the farm where visitors can see butterflies in all their beauty in all stages of their metamorphosis.

Herr Taschner has written books on the subject of roses. He is deeply involved in rose societies in South Africa and is committed to educating people about the beautiful flowers. For the past 25 years he has edited all the publications of the Federation of Rose Societies of South Africa.

The farm employs about 130 workers who work to keep the 1 million rose bushes in top condition.

Walking along the “Rose Mile” on the farm is a heady experience with the wonderful scent of the roses creating a wonderfully calm ambience.

The meanings of the rose

The rose has long had a special place in the art and lore of humanity, as can be seen in the quotes at the top of this Hub.

Roman emperor Nero in about 50AD spent the equivalent of about US$225000 to have a beach covered with rose blooms to celebrate a special occasion.

Nowadays passionate lovers spend similar amounts on bouquets of roses to impress their loved ones. And of course St Valentine's Day sees a profusion of rose-themed cards, as the red rose is traditionally linked with passion and romantic love. As Robert Burns wrote, “My love's like a red, red rose.”

The poem “Bread and Roses” is by James Oppenheim and was written in 1911. It has become symbolic of the famous textile strike in Lawrence, Mass in early 1912, which was led by women textile workers. The slogan “bread and roses” has come to symbolise the struggle for both food and beauty.

In his story “The Nightingale and the Rose” Oscar Wilde resurrected an ancient Persian story. It tells of the lovelorn student who is told by the woman he adores that if he gives her a blood red rose she will dance with him the whole night long at a forthcoming ball. He is shattered when he is unable to find a red rose. His misery is seen by the nightingale which tries to help by finding a red rose for him, but all she can find is white roses. In the end the rose tree growing beneath the student's window tells the nightingale that she “must build it out of music by moonlight, and stain it with your own heart's-blood. You must sing to me with your breast against a thorn. All night long you must sing to me, and the thorn must pierce your heart, and your life-blood must flow into my veins, and become mine.”

The student gets his rose, but, tragically, the lady of his dreams still rejects him and so the beautiful nightingale's selfless sacrifice is in vain.

The title of this Hub comes, of course, from Gertrude Stein's 1913 poem “Sacred Emily.”

Finally the story of the famous “Peace Rose” is told in Antonia Ridge's popular love story, For the Love of a Rose. The “Peace Rose” is properly called the Rosa 'Madame A. Meilland' after the wife of the French horticulturist who developed the cultivar, M Francis Meilland.

At the inaugural meeting of the United Nations in San Fransisco in 1945 each delegation was given Peace Roses with a note which read : "We hope the 'Peace' rose will influence men’s thoughts for everlasting world peace". Amen to that!

Copyright notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2010

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Comments 43 comments

thevoice profile image

thevoice 6 years ago from carthage ill

terrific flower rose hub thanks


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

Beautiful hub, Tony, both words and photos! I have never heard of rose syrups, jams and marmalades. Now I will make it my mission to taste such alluring scents!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

beautiful hub, marmalades, sweet. I saw Burns there, HOORAY! Maita


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Voice - you are welcome!

Lor - thanks for your kind words! And I hope you find some of the delicacies - they are great!

Maita - when talking of roses it's not easy to leave Burns out, is it?

Thanks all for visiting and commenting. Your words are sweet syrup and jam and marmalade to me!

Love and peace

Tony


It's just me profile image

It's just me 6 years ago from Alaska

One of my daughters is named after my mother and one of my favorite flowers, Madeline Rose. Thank you it was a lovely hub.


tantrum profile image

tantrum 6 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

Very interesting ! I use rose petals for cooking !


cameciob profile image

cameciob 6 years ago

Hi Tony, wonderful hub and wonderful subject. I'm thinking what a nice job is to grow roses. I wished I was working in a nursery store. The pictures are great!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

IJM - your daughter has a lovely name!

Tantrum - I haven't tried yet but would love to. Please share a recipe or two?

Came - it must indeed be wonderful to work with roses all day. The scents on the farm are awesome!

Thanks all for dropping by and commenting. I really do appreciate it.

Love and peace

Tony


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Very nice. I enjoy the Edisto Memorial Gardens in SC occasionally. Great hub. Great pics.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Micky - thanks for dropping by and commenting. The only difficulty with then pix was choosing which ones not to put in, LOL!

Love and peace

Tony


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Beautiful flowers


Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

Beautiful flowers and beautiful Hub, Tony. Just planning to plant some roses, so this is great inspiration.

BTW, "The Rose and the Nightinghale" is one of the sadest stories I ever read. I remeber when I was child I could not stop crying because of nightingale useless sacrifice.

Thank you for great photos and interesting article.

Love and peace


De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

“A rose is a rose is a rose”.... According to Juliet it is :-)


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

Great hub Tony. I am a rose lover but doubt I will ever have one named after me. Never mind though because as the Bard said "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet".

Thanks again.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

Beautiful tribute to my favourite flowers. Gorgeous. Thank you, Peace


BrianS profile image

BrianS 6 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

Ah, me thinks the rose is more than one flower, they are very diverse and a beautiful plant. 30 million years old, no way, I would never have thought that had I not just read it. So a bit of a stayer as well. Nice hub on a nice topic.


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

I enjoyed learning so much history of the rose, never imagined they'd been around so long!


vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 6 years ago

I had no idea roses were so ´´old.´´ Interesting infos!


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

I used to work in a flower shop years ago and even though Valentine's Day was always a nightmare I can still appreciate the Rose. Which is the name of my favorite flower, my favorite movie, and one of my favorite songs and dare I say it one of my favorite sisters. LOL I hope my other sisters don't see this. Great hub.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Ethel - you have no idea how beautiful when there are something like 1 million of them in one place! Breathtaking.

Tatjana - I only discovered the story when researching roses for this Hub and was incredibly moved by it. I can understand your tears! I hope your roses do well.

De Greek - indeed! And I guess we put a lot of our own fantasies into the flower.

Peter - hang in there, it might yet happen, LOL!

Brian and Sheila B and Vox - the age of the rose was an eye-opener to me also. Amazing thought that they have been around so long.

LadyJane - many great songs about roses, which is your favourite? Thought of putting a few YouTube vids on but ran out of time.

Thanks all for your kiind words and appreciation of the beautiful flower.

Love and peace

Tony


ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

Bette Midler's The Rose song and movie. Cheers.


tantrum profile image

tantrum 6 years ago from Tropic of Capricorn

I'll have to translate the recipes to English. I'm busy at the moment, but I'll e-mail you a couple, when I have time ; :)


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Thankjs - look forward very much!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Dali - thanks so much for your comment, I appreciate it truly!

Love and peace

Tony


Ann Nonymous profile image

Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

this was such an enjoyable and beautiful hub, Tony! I loved every bit of it....especially your title! Well done!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks Ann - you made my day!

Love and peace

Tony


Sage Williams profile image

Sage Williams 6 years ago

How beautifully written. You have done some amazing research. I never really thought about or even imagined that there could be so much history on the rose.

Your flowers are equally beautiful. Thanks so much for this beautiful hub. The fossil part was very interesting. Rated Up!

Sage


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

This was fascinating............... great history! Thank you........

Kaie


liswilliams profile image

liswilliams 6 years ago from South Africa

This was really interesting, Tony. Wow, a rose named after Naas! Next time I'm there I'll stop off at the Ludwig's.

Thanks :)


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Sage - thanks for you kind words. I appreciate them very much.

Kaie - thanks to you too. I was fascinated when doing the research for this Hub.

Lis - yes indeed, rose called Naas Botha! What? The farm is definitely worth a visit - preferably on a nice clear day in October!

Thanks again all for dropping by and reading and commenting. You have made my day!

Love and peace

Tony


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

Lovely hub and beautiful photos, I love roses as well. it was nice to learn some history about them.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Jay - thanks for dropping by and making such a sweet comment. I appreciate it very much indeed - a rose for you!

Love and peace

Tony


queen cleopatra profile image

queen cleopatra 6 years ago

Wow! Thank you for the colorful stories about the rose, and also the pics. I always love ogling over rose pictures because they seemed the most gorgeous flower for me. :)


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Queen Cleo - thanks for the comment, and roses are indeed very special flowers. Thanks for dropping by.

Love and peace

Tony


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Wow! What a great hub about such a beautiful flower packed with other interesting information as well. My grandfather LOVED roses and tenderly cared for them everyplace that he lived. From his climbing roses to his tea roses, each and every one was special. Really liked this hub! One MILLION of them in one place.......amazing!!! Great photos!


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Peggy - thanks for dropping by and commenting. It is an amazing place indeed!

Love and peace

Tony


SwiftlyClean profile image

SwiftlyClean 6 years ago from Texas

Hello tony this is a great write and a trip to another land of roses.

Beautiful!Bavo:)

Peace!

Sharon Smith


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Sharon - thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate it very much. And yes - roses are wonderful!

Love and peace

Tony


sligobay profile image

sligobay 4 years ago from east of the equator

I don't know how I missed this beautiful hub two years ago.

Time is meaningless in the presence of the timeless beauty of the prehistoric rose.


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 3 years ago

Beautiful article about roses. :)


boutiqueshops profile image

boutiqueshops 2 years ago from Corpus Christi, Texas

My dearest favorite flower ~ I even buy my candles, creams, soaps and everything I can in rose fragrance. :) Loved it!


Easy Exercise profile image

Easy Exercise 24 months ago from United States

The two greatest forms of admiration - to have a barbie crafted in your image and to have a rose named after you!

I am a newbie when it comes to roses. Planted two, 2 years ago, and five last year. They are delightful.

I have seen the Peace rose offered for sale several times but learned from you the 1945 use of the rose. That is great. The Peace rose is one of my favorites - not just for its beauty but also for its meaning and now its history. Thank you!


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 20 months ago from Northeast Ohio

What a lovely hub about the roses and the history behind it. Nice job with the examples of roses have been in famous poems and the background behind it. Lovely photos, too. Voted up!

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