It will come as no surprise to learn that more roses are sold during the month of February than in any other month of the year. St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated by millions annually on February 14th and has been recognised as the official day of love and romance for centuries. With keen romantics eager to show their love and appreciation to the object of their affection, it’s no wonder the demand for roses is at its highest at this time of year.

However, St. Valentine’s Day isn’t the only reason for the spike in rose sales. The month of February also plays host to Rose Day. Rose Day is celebrated by youngsters worldwide but is particularly popular in India where young adults declare their feelings for their loved one by gifting a rose. It is a joyous occasion which bears witness to blossoming new friendships and relationships. Many people believe more can be said with a single rose than by any number of spoken words.

As the rose is the official flower of love and red is associated with love and passion, it goes without saying that red roses are the most popular choice when it comes to both Rose Day and St. Valentine’s Day. But what do the other colours signify? It’s useful to know when gifting roses that pink represents happiness and grace, yellow symbolises friendship and warmth, and white is indicative of purity and innocence. I must admit, white roses are my absolute favourite and I never tire of their fragrance or beauty.

But when it comes to our senses, the appreciation of roses is not just limited to our eyes and nose. Our tongues can also benefit from this versatile bloom. Rose petals can be added to salads and are often used in desserts and cakes. Rose syrup can be used to make marshmallows and rose flavoured ice-cream. And rose hip is a popular ingredient in jam, jelly and marmalade. As well as the advantage of taste, rose hip is also considered one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C so it’s beneficial for health and wellbeing too.

And let’s not forget rose water. Rose water has long since been considered a natural aid for headaches and migraines as well as offering relief from sunburn. It also boasts health benefits for men and women alike. Adding rose water to your bath will soften and freshen your skin. Massaging rose water into your hair will leave it softer and shinier. You can use rose water as a natural make-up remover, a refreshing face mist or a skin moisturiser. It’s also perfect as an after-shave or an ingredient in aromatherapy. And the good news is, you can make it yourself!

Rose water is made by steeping rose petals in water. Whilst rose water is now produced on a commercial scale using modern machinery, it was traditionally made by hand and this method is still practiced by artisans in Iran, Oman and other Middle Eastern countries. The rose petals are heated in water under controlled heat. The steam is condensed and the water droplets are collected as rose water. Its value is in its purity so beware of chemically enhanced substitutes.

Having already mentioned smell, sight and taste, I cannot neglect sound. This is not the most obvious of our senses to benefit from the rose but with so many poets (famous and otherwise) inspired by this beloved flower, it most definitely deserves a mention. The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote ‘A Red, Red Rose’ way back in 1794 and W. B. Yeats penned ‘The Lover Tells of the Rose in His Heart’ in 1892. More recently, song titles and lyrics are based on the beautiful bloom, ‘Bed of Roses’ by Bon Jovi and ‘Kiss from a Rose’ by Seal, to name just two.

Whatever your reason for buying roses, you should certainly have plenty of choice. There are literally, hundreds of different types of rose. When I was a child, I remember studying my grandfather’s book of roses. I would spend hours memorising the names, admiring the colours and then choosing my favourite, only to return the next day to start all over again. One day I would select my favourite based on colour, the next it would depend on the shape. Another day, I would choose the prettiest name, the next I would pick the one with the most petals. Decades later, I’m still unable to name my absolute favourite variety. The roses in my grandfather’s garden ranged from apricot, to violet to cherry. With such an abundance of colour, I often wonder why I still prefer white.

One thing’s for sure, my love of roses has never died. In fact, to use Emma Goldman’s wise words, ‘I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.’ And not just in February!

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