Roses say “I love you” like no other flower and in June they also say “Happy Birthday” since they are the main birth flower for the month. The secondary birth follower for the month is honeysuckle, but there is so much to say about roses that we will start with that and then cover the honeysuckle later in the post.
“The optimist sees the rose and not its thorns; the pessimist stares at the thorns, oblivious to the rose,” ~ Kahlil Gibran.
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. 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.
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.
Roses are once again enjoying a resurgence in popularity, specifically, shrub roses and old garden roses. There are also climbing varieties of roses that will crawl up a trellis or wall. Gardeners realize that these roses fit the lifestyle of today's gardeners who want roses that beautiful, disease resistant, offer outstanding floral quality, have excellent winter hardiness, and fit into shrub borders and perennial gardens without seeming out of place.
Roses are red, and pink, and many other colors. Giving roses as a gift shows a deep appreciation for the recipient and your feelings towards them. Roses are the most popular flowers in the world and although all roses symbolize love and appreciation, the color of the flower petals have come to have very specific meanings.
Let’s look at a few:
- Blue- True blue roses are not found in nature. Natural roses that are considered “blue” are actually a blue-toned purple. However, blue roses can also be obtained by dying white roses. Because they can’t be obtained naturally, blue roses symbolize the unattainable and the mysterious.
- Black- Black roses are another color that is not found in nature. Natural roses that are called “black” are actually a very dark red or purple color. True black roses can only be obtained through dyeing. Black roses symbolize death, rebirth, and goodbye.
Sometimes the numbers say everything...
- A single rose of any color depicts the utmost devotion or a way to say "thank you"
- Two roses entwined together communicate "marry me" (a red and white rose entwined means unity)
- Six Roses signify a need to be loved or cherished
- Eleven roses assure the recipient they are truly and deeply loved
- Thirteen roses indicate a secret admire
Tennyson said, “If I had a flower for every time I thought of you . . . I could walk through my garden forever,” It is so true. Preparing these birth flower articles has been loads of fun for me, my love and appreciation for all that Nature offers, like the flowers in my garden, just continues to grow!
When it comes to birth flowers many folks believe that a person adopts the characteristics of the flower for the month in which they were born. In the case of June, the rose is delicate, yet capable of protecting itself with its thorns. It symbolizes love, devotion and passion. It is also highly fragrant and is the preferred flower to express your love for another. Likewise, the honeysuckle is a symbol of everlasting love, happiness and a sweet disposition. According to ancient beliefs the fragrance of the honeysuckle inspires dreams of love and passion. Bringing a blooming honeysuckle plant indoors was a sure sign that a wedding would soon take place in the home. With two birth flowers that so capture the essence of love and romance it is no wonder that June is traditionally the month of weddings. June birth flowers fill the room with fragrance and beauty that symbolizes love and devotion.
The thought of having a “honeysuckle” in your yard might frighten some home gardeners because of the bad reputation of Japanese honeysuckle, L. japonica, which is one of the most notoriously invasive exotic plants ever introduced into our area. But, fear not, both the coral honeysuckle and the Texas white honeysuckle are easily contained and will not invade the entire yard or even take over a fence line.
I highly recommend you try to grow some Texas White honeysuckle of your own. It is not hard at all. In fact, the soil it wants to live in needs to be somewhat rocky or sandy. Also ideal is a limestone-based, sandy loam to clay soil, which perfectly describes the typical Hays county soil! This beauty usually isn’t much more than a 4-foot shrub, but the long, graceful, sometimes twining branches of white honeysuckle can reach 10 feet in height. The showy, white flowers occur in 2-3-inch clusters and are followed by clusters of orange-red fruit. This is a deciduous shrub, so it will lose its leaves in the fall, but what a pretty shrub or woody vine it is with its dark green foliage and attractive clusters of white flowers. It will encourage many wild visitors to come to your yard. Deer may browse the plant when they are hungry (but then what won’t deer eat when they are hungry?) the berries attract birds, and the nectar brings in the butterflies and the bees.
Texas White honeysuckle will usually only bloom from March until July. Now I know that many of you old timers are going to tell me that the Texas White only blooms from March until the end of May, and while that may often be the case, I can testify to the fact that mine still blooms in June and into July. Admittedly the number of blooms decreases as the temperature increases but I often still have white blooms for my annual Fourth of July picnic.
Coral honeysuckle is a native of much of the eastern United States where it frequents stream banks, woods and thickets. It is wide ranging from Connecticut to Florida, west through the south and midwest to Nebraska. In Central Texas it has been found naturally occurring in both Hays and Travis Counties. Despite its natural range, coral honeysuckle does well in gardens in the Hill Country area. It grows in partly shady spots, preferably with morning sun and afternoon shade. Coral honeysuckle is noted to tolerate a rather wide variety of soils, and once established, it requires very little, if any, watering. In Hill Country gardens, coral honeysuckle needs to be protected from browsing deer as they favor it over the Texas white variety. It is beautiful most of the year with it’s smooth, twining evergreen vine bearing dark, shiny green leaves which are white on the lower surface. The trumpet shaped flowers show up in swirls of four to six flowers. They are usually red outside and orange inside, or rarely, all orange or yellow. Red to green twining stems fade to grey when mature. Clusters of red berries mature in September to October. Ornamentally, coral honeysuckle is well suited to climb on a fence or trellis, it is evergreen through most of Texas, and often blooms in January and sporadically throughout the growing season to attract pollinators.