By Prof. Ross G. Cooper
A small plastic yoghurt container is sufficient to grow the seeds of this remarkable bush, which blossom each with five-petalled pink flowers in sufficient warmth. They add a delightful, bright and colourful addition to the home, particularly on a windowsill ledge (Figure 1).
Figure 1 Wild rose bush on a windowsill
Botany is an integral component of high-school and university science curricula. Naturally, Rosa canina is widespread in the scrubland of Europe and produce a tall, study bush 1.2 – 3 metres in height together with hooked prickles and toothed leaves. They also grow well in gardens in southern Africa and some varieties have a delicate scent or even a fleshy, perfumed texture.
The seeds can be collected from the fruit and simply dried on a sheet of newspaper in the sunshine. Care must be taken to avoid inhaling and/or ingesting the fine hairs cushioning the seeds. Within a few days, they are ready to be planted about 1.5 centimetres below the surface of an organic mulch soil. Watering is only necessary once a week. Indoor cultivation often obliterates the threat from floral pests and diseases like aphids, red scale, chafers, red spider, stem borer, black spot, mildew and rose dust. Indoors, pruning can be performed infrequently using small hand clippers.
The amazing thing is that the petals can be eaten neat in salads in addition to being used in rose wine, rose-in-brandy, rose vinegar, rhubarb, rose-petal jam, rose honey, rose-coconut candies, Turkish delight, rose drops, crystallised rose petals and rose-petal jelly.
Zimbabweans are very paltry to bread spread with margarine and jam. Only a small potful of petals are required, being exceedingly sweet, and are sorted through whilst withered examples are removed. Two cups of caster sugar are dissolved in half a cup of water mixed with one tablespoon each of freshly-squeezed lemon and orange juice. The petals are then stirred continuously for 30 minutes whilst at low heat. The mixture is cooled a little and poured into small glass jars and sealed. Apart from forming a delicious spread, the jam is also mixed with yoghurt and added to other desserts.
This anecdote is based on my personal experience and experimentation of growing wild examples of plants indoors. Further information on outdoor garden cultivation can be obtained in the inspiring Tom Manson’s New Garden Book. Kingstons Ltd. Zimbabwe.
Prof. Ross G. Cooper
Zimbabwean academic and author firstname.lastname@example.org