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24 September 2014

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The world's favourite flower - grown in Shropshire
The English rose - inspiration for poets, singers and artists
In Shropshire we are lucky to be the home of the foremost rose grower in the country. David Austin Roses is based at Albrighton. It was founded in the 1960s by David Austin, who is a world famous breeder and grower of English roses.
David Austin Roses Ltd
Company website with a search facility allowing you to search for types of roses.

June Tabor
Find out more about June and her music.

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Folk on the BBC Shropshire website

BBC Radio Shropshire
Find out more about the presenters.


This feature was inspired by a BBC Radio Shropshire programme suggested by singer June Tabor

the programme took a brief look at the rose, its origins, its history and the folklore and myths surrounding it.

June’s CD Rosa Mundi provided the music, from standards such as Roses in Picardy through to traditional English folk songs.

The programme was a celebration of one of our most beautiful flowers, giving a glimpse into its history, its poetry … and even its pests.

Genevieve Tudor, who produced the programme, was ably assisted by Michael Marriot, who works with champion Shropshire Rose grower, David Austin.

Never a rose without the thorn … not to mention blackspot, red spiders, rose leaf hoppers, saw flies, rose chafers, Japanese beetles, leaf cutter bees, rose midges, aphids, thrips, chlorosis and mildew … wouldn’t you rather grow marigolds?

The queen of flowers

The English rose … an inspiration for poets, singers, playwrights, artists, and cooks over the centuries, and a trial and tribulation to gardeners. No-one knows the story of the very first rose but fossils found in Japan, America and Europe are some 35 million years old.

The very first rose picture is said to be of a 6 petalled flower on a fresco at Knossos in Crete. This dates back to 1500 BC. Five hundred years later wild roses were brought back as the precious spoils of war. Three centuries later Sappho referred to the rose as the queen of flowers.

Stories, myths and folklore abound. Here’s a riddle for you:

On a summer’s day, in sultry weather
Five brethren were born together
Two had beards and two had none
And the other had but half a one

The rose has been used as a symbol of beauty, of purity, of immortality and even of secrecy. The Romans believed Cupid dedicated the rose to Harpocraties, God of silence, an appropriate gift because the petals cover the stamens the way the lips cover the mouth. At banquets roses were hung from the ceiling to encourage guests to show the same discretion. Nothing should be repeated if conversation was Sub Rosa. Centuries later plasterwork roses served the same purpose.

I will heere adde a common Countrey Custome that is used to be done with the Rose. When the pleasaunt and merry companions doe friendly meete together to make good cheere, soon as their Feast or Banket be ended they give faithful promise mutually one to another that whatsoever hath been merrily spoken any in the assembly should be wrapped in silence and not be carried out of doores.

In Shropshire we are lucky to be the home of the foremost rose grower in the country. David Austin Roses is based at Albrighton near Shifnal. It was founded in the 1960s by David Austin, who is famous worldwide as a breeder and grower of English roses. David has just been awarded the highest accolade possible from the Royal Horticultural Society, the Victoria Medal of Honour, for his work in breeding English Roses.

The rose, it should be crowned with pearls of Arabia and Lydian gold. Better and sweeter are these flowers than all other plants and rightly called the flower of flowers.
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