Saturday, June 27, 2015

Seedy Saturday- Damask Rose

Happy Saturday everyone!  Today, we learn about a special kind of rose. 
Robert de Brie, a Crusader, is sometimes said to have brought the Damask rose from Syria to Europe sometime between 1254 and 1276. The name refers to a major city in Syria called Damascus. This plant became popular in the European gardens of noblemen and wealthy merchants, and for centuries, this rose has also been considered a symbol of beauty and love.

Roses are often thought of as having a nice scent as well.  Rose petals were used for their fragrance to make an expensive essential oil called altar of roses which was used in perfume.  It would take one and a half tons of fresh petals to make one pound of the oil!  They were also used to make rose water, in which the process for extracting rose water from rose petals in the early 11th century was invented by a Persian scientist, Avicenna.  These roses are also ideal for making potpourri, because they hold their fragrance so well when they are dried.

Not only were roses used for making perfume for Victorians, perhaps bought and worn by the settlers here in Elgin County, but they also loved the scent of violets.  Not only would they carry the scent of the violet on their skin, but they also ate violets, candied in cakes and pastries, and women would pin them to their dresses while men tucked them in their hat brims or wore them on their lapels.  Queen Victoria herself however, was ‘not amused’ by plenty of things, including the over-lavish use of fragrance.  Interesting how her people were not phased by their ruler’s distaste.
Have a great week ahead,
Catie Welch

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