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Roses got my Heart Singing

Karen Lawton shares her life-long love of roses. She sings fragrant praises of this quintessentially English bloom and all of its magic. roses1

It is the height of summer and in between rain showers the balmy scent of the rose is calling to me like never before.

I have had a connection with the beautiful rose from a young age – my grandmother, a keen gardener, specially prized her rose garden. My first concoctions were crushing smooth, pale peach petals for rosewater potions. I remember feeling slightly cheated as the petals browned and lost their beauty over time.

Roses have a long and colourful history. They have been symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics. This year I seem to be reconnecting with her on a very deep level, hardly a plant I pass without needing to go have a chat, sniff and stroke. I have been amazed at the sheer roses3diversity of roses growing in my little village alone. In nature, the genus Rosa has some 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and then there are all the hybrids created for our gardens. Apparently there are over 30,000 varieties, leading to the most complicated family tree of any known flower species. Garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, in Asia. She truly is an ancient ancestor, with fossil evidence aging her at 35 million years old.

Included in her vast botanical family called the Rosacea family are hawthorns, apples, plums, raspberries and ‘ladies mantle’ to name a few, most having astringent cooling qualities medicines.rose4

The rose is a rose,
And was always a rose.
But now the theory goes
That the apple’s a rose,
And the pear is, and so’s
The plum, I suppose.
The dear only knows
What will next prove a rose.
You, of course, are a rose--
But were always a rose.

by Robert Frost 1874-1963

There has been one particular rambling rose with pinky, peach petals that has been attracting me; she sits on the corner of a valley on our walk to and from school. So enticing is her magic, we have been late a few times. She has been teaching us the joy of being soft, delicate and approachable, with clearly marketed boundaries... over step them and you’ll get a sharp reprimand!

Rosa Heartspetal we have named her, and in spirit she is the elderly midwife, who has seen and birthed so much with generosity and kindness, never taking any nonsense, full of gifts of nurture and infinite knowledge. Her delicate petals, perfectly heart shaped as in our native Dog Rose (Rosa Canina), provides real heart support, cools anxieties and steadies the nerves. We make a tincture out of the petals; roses are under the domain of Venus so we do this on a Friday (ruled by Venus) around the full moon. This ensures all the energies of the plant are up in the ariel parts. So we harvest the petals on a dry bright day, filling a jar to the brim with the petals, asking or setting intentions for what the medicine can gift us. Covering the petals with good quality vodka, we then leave it in a cool place for a lunar cycle to brew. Once ready, we strain out the petals and are left with a powerful, brilliant, ‘Rose Petal’ tincture. We have long used her sexy, deep red fruits, the rosehips to make syrups packed with valuable nourishment in the form of vitamins  & rose5minerals. It tastes delicious. The content of ascorbic acid/vitamin C in hips is 10 times more than in blackcurrant, 50 times more than in lemon and 100 times more than in apples.

There have been plenty of studies documenting how the hips have given numerous folk relief from arthritis. We use tinctures and powders for this, and also heart conditions, very effectively. One of our favourite remedies are our ‘Drops of Love’ made from rose tincture, rosehip syrup and peppermint tincture mixed together. These beautifully cooling and centring drops gently nourish and support the nervous and digestive systems.

Peppermint helps to clear a fuzzy head and calm digestion, thus aiding the free-flow of all mental processes. The word ‘mint’ derives from the Latin for ‘thought’. Rose has an amazing history as a symbol of mystical or divine love. It is used here for its uplifting, calming properties. The binding nature of the tannins found in rose gives the potential for containment of nervous energy and erratic patterns. And, finally, the delicious, nourishing rosehip syrup is made from the Wild Dog rose. Its vastly nutritious make-up provides a wonderfully nurturing support system for the whole body, mind and spirit.

Karen Lawton creates herbal potions with ‘Witch Sista’ Fiona. They now teach their craft via Sensory Herbcraft Apprenticeships. www.sensorysolutions.co.uk

uploaded 13/01/14

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