November 14, 2008
Make the Most of Roses: Rosewater
We're approaching the end of Spring in this southern hemisphere and the weather is quite temperamental. After almost a week without rain, the soil has become dry and we have to attend the garden for watering, more than we should have done in this season, as we're still germinating some seeds for the next crops. While the days have been so windy, it is difficult for us to do some spraying whilst aphids have yet been attacking our cherry trees. We use pyrethrum to spray aphids and bronze beetles in order to be parallel with organic gardening and the safer environment, but this can't be done in windy days. But for my roses, I usually mix garlic and baking soda for more organic 'pesticide'. Sometimes, it works, other time it fails. It just is depending on how much rain we have and how much time I have the opportunity to do the regular spraying. When it's raining or windy, it is impossible to be in the timetable.
I plant my own roses. Most of them are bush varieties, ranged from Floribunda, and Hybrid Teas, besides climbing and patio varieties. Most of my roses are those developed by the Father of rose, a famous rosarian, David Austin.
First time planting back in 2003, we only had 15 bushes, now it's about 30-something bushes including those I grow (fortunately) from cuttings. I refuse to except the term 'green thumbs or green fingers' because I believe everyone can do gardening whenever she/he wants and is able to spend time for looking after plants. Fail or not, it is depending on how someone cares or looks after the plants or not. You can't really plant a bunch of parsley and ignore it for days while you're going socializing somewhere and expect your parsley will thrive without watering or such.
Perhaps, some of you may think that roses are fussy plants, but you know what, they will give you as much rewards as you give them care for. Yes, they need good soil enrichen with manure (they love horse manure, although some gardeners prefer sheep pellets!), plenty of sun, and water in Summer. They have to be pruned in Winter to remove the hard and dead stalks to ensure young growths next year. The dead buds should be picked to give prolong live till Autumn. They also need to be watched out from aphids and other diseases such as mildew and so forth, but this is a part of the maintenance itself.
I don't really think this is a heavy task because I just love being in the garden. I love to watch my flowers growing from seeds or stems into plants which give me flowers or fruits. I love to be able to pick my own flowers in my own garden and arrange them in pots for tables or chests at home. I love to breath the rose-scented air in our bedroom (romantic?). Roses make me happy. Don't they say that rose is the symbol of wisdom, purity, love, beauty and grace which have been mankind's companion for thousand years? Why not try plant a pot or two in your garden, then you'll know exactly how I feel. After all, the rewards are yours.
As much as positive properties a roses has, I just love to make rosewater myself. Sometimes, if I need to, I would bathe in rosewater and lavender essential oil. The recipe is simple: pick rose petals and lavenders. Have ready boiling water and then pour these flowers in a saucepan, pour the boiling water in, cover with the lid, and leave it rest for at least 30 minutes (that if you can't really wait). Pour the water into your bath water, soak in. Relax.
When making rosewater for culinary purpose, I use David Austin's old English rose, which the name I forgot. The petals are small (unlike those of floribunda or hybrid tea cousins) and the scent it pleasantly sweet, the scent which you won't forget forever, and its colour is purplish. It is a kind of climbing rose, almost similar to Gertrude Jekyll. When they have finished flowering, they tend to develop hips which are deep orange colour.
Homemade Rosewater (1)
In making rosewater, there are two ways I usually use. The quicker one is this one. I'll post the other one next.
Old English rose petals
Just use less water, as you can always add it later. The less the water, the more fragrant your rosewater will be. Boil the water, and then add in the petals. Cover the lid. Leave it cool, and then keep it in the fridge overnight. Strain and sqeeze out the remaining water from the petals. Put in a bottle or bottles. Lidded. Keep in the fridge. I usually use this within a week because it does not contain of preservative, or put them in a ice-cube trays. Freeze them, remove from the trays. Put them in the freezer-safe bags. Use them for later use, especially when it is not Summer anymore.