Every year, UK and international Rose breeders put forward their favourite new varieties of rose to be entered the Rose of the Year trials, which is an annual competition run by Roses UK. The new roses undergo vigorous trials in various soils and climates.
After a two-year trial period, the roses are judged by amateurs and professionals, and a winner is selected based on the flower’s form and colour and fragrance, as well as factors such as maintenance and health. This winner is then unveiled at the prestigious Hampton court Palace Flower Show.
The 2018 winner is named “Lovestruck”, has beautiful double blooms in a vibrant, cherry red with glossy dark green foliage. It’s the classic picture of romance, and makes you wonder when and where the red rose became synonymous with love and passion.
Through the ages they’ve appeared in politics, literature, art, poetry and modern media, and we’ve been giving and receiving them on romantic occasions for decades. Whilst roses come in an immense variety of colours, it’s the red rose that has been most prolific over time. This quote by Lucy Maud Montgomery is a great portrayal of its influence;
The rose is a flower of love. The world has acclaimed it for centuries. Pink roses are for love hopeful and expectant. White roses are for love dead or forsaken, but the red roses, ah the red roses are for love triumphant.
So, where did our obsession with red roses begin?
The first recorded use of the red rose as a symbol of love can be found in Greek and Roman iconography. The Romans believed that roses first sprung up from drops of blood spilt by Venus the Goddess of Love, in an attempt to save her lover from danger. Similarly, the Greeks associated the rose with Aphrodite who was their own goddess of love. Later, after the Christianisation of Rome, the rose became linked to the Virgin Mary and her devotion to God.
As well as strong religious connotations, roses have also played an important part in English history, most notably during the War of the Roses – where the houses of Lancaster and York were eventually united. The white rose representing Lancaster and the red rose of York were tied together to form the Tudor rose.
Nowadays, we celebrate the rose as our national flower, and use it to express affection for our loved ones. Did you know that even the number of roses you give has its own meaning? A single rose can mean love at first sight, whilst giving someone a dozen roses is a way to ask if they will be yours.
Roses are also a fantastic plant for your garden, and for me their charm is most abundant when seen on a summer’s day, tumbling over walls with masses of fantastic blooms. As Rose of the Year, you can rest assured that ‘Lovestruck’ will be robust, easy to grow and visually stunning; the perfect fit for any garden.
And if you’re buying roses for your loved one this Valentine’s day, take a minute to appreciate this wonderful flower, that has had the power to capture the world’s imagination in ages past, and surely will do for times to come.