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The History of the Venerable English Rose Garden

The British are a nation of gardeners. And one of their many great gifts to world is the English rose garden. From tiny, urban plots to massive, manicured showcases, the British adore their roses. A summer’s night stroll among the heady and seductive setting of an English rose can be the experience of a lifetime.  It is also like moving through a living time machine. History of Rose Gardens Judging by fossils roses are over 35 million year old.

They have been grown by every ancient culture in the Northern Hemisphere. From the Babylonians to the Cretans; from Egyptians and Greeks the fall of the Roman Empire, most ancient civilizations cultivated this wondrous bloom in some form or another.  Roses have a colorful history. There are beautiful stories like the ancient Hindu legend that says Lakshmi; the bride of Vishnu (great protector of the universe) was created from 108 large and 1008 small rose petals.

There are also stories of self-indulgent Roman nobles forcing starving farmers to grow roses instead of food crops because of the desire to bath in pure rose-water. The rose culture was so strong in Rome, that they also imported flowers from Egypt and created hot houses to force them into bloom. From the Romans British gardeners have been digging and laboring in their rose beds more or less continuously since invading Romans (who loved a good feast or orgy while seated on rose petals) showed them how to grow them. During the Middle Ages, many English castles and countryside estates laid out rose gardens not only for holy festivals but also for their purported medicinal purposes.

garden rose walk

Roses were so admired in England that when a 32 year long conflict erupted between the Houses of Lancaster (which was symbolized by a red rose) and York (which was represented by a white rose), the civil war was called “War of the Roses.”  To Queen Victoria.But it wasn’t until the Victorian era that gardening and rose gardening especially became popular for the majority of the English people. Today we follow that same tradition with our own rose garden, but this one is a bit less stuffy and guests can enjoy it on foot or with their children on a wide variety of boards and bikes.

With the development of the first Industrial Age middle-class, for the first time, a large number of people found they had leisure time to devote to gardening along with the trend of living in the suburbs.It was the Victorians who invented the formal English rose garden so they could showcase their horticultural skill to their follow suburbanites. Many of these gardens are still in existence today in municipal parks, country estates and in private gardens of across the nation. Of course, you don’t have to take a special trip to Great Britain, to tour a formal English rose garden. Many rose enthusiasts have “imported” this popular style and it can be seen in parks and gardens across the world.