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Rosa Rugosa at Chalice Well

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose”

Hada Bejar

Rosa ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’ in sun

With good weather, summer is a celebration of the rose in the UK. We have a large number of different types of roses within the Chalice Well garden including several groupings of Rosa ‘Blanche Double de Coubert’ with semi-double white flowers and Rosa ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’ with crimson-red flowers. They can be found at the start of the main borders leading up to the Well, by the shop, in the car park and at the back of Little Saint Michaels. Their lovely blooms, wonderful “old-fashioned” rose fragrance, generous red-orange hips and good disease resistance makes them worth pruning despite the thorns!

The botanical name Rosa comes from the Latin for rose whilst rugosa refers to the wrinkled leaves. They are native to China, Korea and Japan and grow well in the UK. They tolerate most soils including sandy and are best grown in full sun to partial shade with good drainage as both specimen plants and hedges. Their semi-double habit makes them good for pollinators and their deep perfume for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Rosa ‘Roseraie de l’Hay’ at back of Little St Michaels

Cultivated for thousands of years, roses have become entwined with the history and culture of communities in many parts of the world. Often connected to romantic love, they have also become sacred symbols within spiritual/religious paths including Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. In Islam, the rose is considered the flower of Heaven; in Catholicism, rosary means “crown of roses”. They have a long association with the Divine Feminine, interweaving ancient Goddess culture with Christian traditions; and with the healing lore and practice surrounding this flower.

In the Physic garden, we also grow Rosa gallica var. officinalis (Apothecary’s Rose) and Rosa mundi – Rosa gallica var. versicolor, both heritage medicinal varieties. Containing several pharmacological properties, rose flowers are used to ease digestive, hormonal and skin complaints and the hips for cold and flu symptoms. It has a deep association with the heart, helping to support the emotions and to comfort those in grief.

Dorothea, the (somewhat mythical) patroness of gardeners, is credited with claiming the rose as the loving heart of humanity.

If you have a spiritual or heart-felt story related to roses, please feel welcome to share it.

(List of sources available on request.)

Rose Cordial Recipe

Harvest your rose blooms, preferably from unsprayed bushes, away from a road and if they are not yours, according to accepted foraging rules. The deeper the colour of the petals, the better the colour of the cordial but the scent is the most important consideration. Remove the petals from the base – if you have the patience, snip off the bitter white tip at the base of the petal for the best flavour.

Make a simple syrup by dissolving sugar in an equal measure of water over gentle heat. Remove from the heat. Add one large handful of rose petals per 200g of sugar. Leave to steep for several hours or overnight. Strain the rose petals. Add a little orange zest and lemon juice to taste if liked. Return to the heat, bringing it to a gentle boil and simmer for 5 minutes until thickened. Strain into sterilised bottles and keep in the fridge.

If you don’t want to use sugar, you can simply steep the rose petals in agave or other syrup.

4 thoughts on “Rosa Rugosa at Chalice Well

  1. Dear inhabitants of chalice well
    As I stood in your house some years ago von May I was in a mystical relationship with the best fragrance of the white roses in front of the house
    Some days I will come again to you to visit you in your extraordinary house
    Thank you very much
    Lisa from Berlin

    1. Dear Lisa, thank you for sharing your memory of the white roses at Chalice Well. We look forward to your return visit. Blessings, Penny.

  2. I was at Chalice Well in the autumn of 2010. Roses were still in blossom. There was one white rose that smelled like cinnamon!
    Is there such a rose? Or was I just extra happy, or both. I enjoyed a beautiful garden visit in my soul. Part of the visit is still within me.
    Thank you. Blessings.

    1. Dear Ellen, I don’t know of a rose that smells like cinnamon, although some do have a “spicy” scent. I’ll certainly keep a nose out for it! I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit to Chalice Well. Blessings, Penny.

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