“Love, which, in concert with Abstinence, established Faith, and which, along with Patience, builds up Chastity, is like the columns that sustain the four corners of a house. For it was that same Love which planted a glorious garden redolent with precious herbs and noble flowers–roses and lilies–which breathed forth a wondrous fragrance, that garden on which the true Solomon was accustomed to feast his eyes.“ – Hildegard of Bingen
My husband says I seem to wake up craving roses and sleep dreaming of them. Maybe it’s because the scent and flavor of the beautiful historic and fragrant roses in my gardens bring back so many of my best memories. They remind me of my father and the happy times that I spent with him in his rose gardens. Or maybe it’s because the magic spell of the roses helps my skin stay happy and smooth and my heart stay open and gentle.
When it comes to roses, we all have our favorites. Mine is the beautiful and ancient Rosa Gallica Officinalis, more commonly known as Apothecary’s Rose.
The Apothecary’s Rose is just a joy, a rose older than the Renaissance and used for medicinal purposes during Medieval times. It is extraordinarily beautiful to see and smell when blooming. Its intense, deep pink to light red coloring and luscious old rose fragrance make it a must in any herbalist’s garden.
I have always found it easy to grow, which may be the source of its longevity and popularity. It only blooms once in a season, but it’s a generous rose. Mine has been blooming for more than a month. I return to it time and again to make rosewaters, jams and jellies.
Rose milk is my absolute favorite afternoon drink...so delicious and just so very pretty. (All roses are edible, but please use unsprayed rose petals in any recipe whether you consume it or smooth it onto your skin.)
This recipe is easy and delicious and is an old Ayurvedic recipe from India that has been used for centuries to cool down the body. While I use coconut milk, you can easily substitute regular whole milk and some heavy cream if you like.
To start, you’ll need a pot of rose tea. Steep 2 cups of dried rose petals until strong, but not bitter and strain. Put a two cups of hot coconut milk infused with 1 cup of rose tea , 1 teaspoon of MCT (highly fractionated coconut oil), some raw honey to taste and a handful of fresh unsprayed rose petals into a blender. Blend on high for a minute until frothy then chill. Pour into a lovely glass, find your porch swing and just relax.
Roses are said to be wonderful for the nervous system, soothing and nourishing for the skin and the MCT oil is so good for supporting relaxation and focus.
I generally look to my favorite flower when I’m feeling a bit tense and I’ve discovered over the years (and this is backed by historic herbalist Hildegard of Bingen) that drinking rose water definitely has the ability to enhance my mood and relieve feelings of anxiety and stress.
For example, I drink a simple tea of rose water, spearmint and almond milk if my stomach is upset or if I’m feeling bloated from too many of the wrong foods. I simply throw a handful of fresh or dried rose petals into my teapot with another handful of fresh spearmint. Steep for about ten minute and add some raw honey and almond milk. Sipping this tea, I’ll generally begin to feel better quickly, as the anti-inflammatory effects of the rose tea begin to take effect. One thing that I have noticed is that rose waters, milks and tea always seem to provide relief from bloating and fluid retention, and my research into their properties does back this up.
I also find rose-infused honey to be ever so helpful when I have a sore or scratchy throat and although you can buy it, it is just so easy to make. Stirred into a cup of hot water, or simply taken by the spoonful, the anti-inflammatory properties of the rose petals and the antibacterial properties of the honey seem to relieve any irritation quickly.
Rose Petal Honey
6 cups fresh rose petals (4 cups dried)
2 cups honey, room temperature
1-quart glass jar with lid
Add petals to the jar until half full and firmly packed. Pour honey over rose petals and stir to remove air pockets. Cap the jar tightly. After several hours stir petals and honey. (I use chopsticks for this.) Add more rose petals and stir. Leave the jar in a warm place for about two weeks, stirring from time to time.
After two to four weeks, warm the jar in a pot of hot water (do not boil). Strain the warmed honey through a cheesecloth into a clean jar. Press the rose petals to remove all honey. Cap the jar and enjoy on toast, over yogurt, with ice cream and in cocktails.
I use rose water in my drinks consistently because I believe that it is so helpful for hydrating the skin from the inside out. I also spray rose hydrosol (a fancy name for rosewater!) on my skin every morning after my shower to help my aging skin. I spent way too much time in the sun without sunscreen as a teenager and I have noticed that this daily spritzing with rosewater seems to have softened some of my wrinkles and it tightens my pores.
I’d love to know some of your favorite uses for your favorite roses, so please feel free to share them with me in the comments.
May everything be coming up roses for you all summer long!
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