Bible Gardening with Roses
As Bible gardeners, we create our gardens using plants mentioned in Scripture. Roses, often called "the queen of flowers," are among the most delightful of all Bible plants.
In Biblical times, roses grew in the Holy Land. Four species of the genus Rosa are native to Israel; one grows on Mount Hermon, and another on Mount Sinai. Of the other two species, Rosa canina grows in many countries, and Rosa phoenicia grows near rivers and streams in Mediterranean lands.
Roses grew wild around Jerusalem and Jericho and were cultivated in gardens for their beauty and scent and for culinary purposes. Rose hip tea and jam are still popular in the Middle East, and rosewater was among the world's first treasured perfumes.
Isaiah 35:1 says that the desert will "rejoice and blossom as the rose" (NKJV). Roses are sturdy bushes and grow wild in every part of the United States and Canada; varieties are available for both shade and sun. Most roses love sun and a nice breeze to keep mold and mildew away from them. Some roses have stunningly beautiful flowers, and others are loved for their scents. Many roses cherished for their smell are described in nurseries and catalogs as old-fashioned roses.
To encourage flowers, roses benefit from occasional deep watering, correct pruning, and nourishment from rose food, which is sold in nurseries. I recommend buying tough suede leather gloves designed for gardening or carpentry work and a small hand pruner.
To encourage an almost continual supply of blooms, when rosebuds finish blooming, prune the dead bud just above a leaf with five leaflets, where the stem looks thick enough to support some heavy flowers.
To help roses survive harsh winters in northern states, stop feeding the plants in late August and allow the flowers to develop into seedpods, called rose hips. In northern states where roses need protection to survive winter's cold, give them a blanket of soil to cover the bud union, where the rootstock supports the grafted rose. In severe cold areas you can set up a circle of chicken wire as tall as the plant, cover it with plastic to keep out the rain and snow, and fill the chicken-wire cage with leaves, peat moss, and soil. Remove the cage in early spring before new growth starts.
Roses come in every nuance of color. You can indulge yourself by planting a garden of many shades of one color or multicolored roses that look like they've been splashed with colors by hand, or you can plant mixed colors of roses for future colorful bouquets. You may come to love rarer colors, such as Blue Girl, with its subtle blue or lavender tones, or the striking Jacob's Coat vining rose, with blazing orange and yellow blooms. No matter what palette you want to paint with for your garden, roses can fulfill your dreams.
People have loved roses for more than 2,000 years. Jesus likely walked among roses as He preached and prayed. Today, as ever, rose gardens are ideal places to pray and meditate.