I love roses with a passion; they have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a very young girl, I loved nothing more than picking the delicate, heavenly-scented petals and immersing them in water in jam jars to make my own perfume. We had various varieties in our garden, so I would add a mixture of colours and wait patiently for a day or so before checking if the ‘perfume’ was ready.
In India, women and young girls wear fresh flowers in their hair for weddings and other special occasions, and I have always been drawn to this look, which is so feminine and mesmerising. There, they tend to wear jasmine flowers, whose scent is intoxicatingly beautiful, and bright orange marigolds too. I remember my mother and her friends, my ‘aunties’, wearing flowers in their hair for parties when I was growing up in Yorkshire. However, they had no access to the beautiful jasmine flowers or marigolds of India in England at that time, so they took to wearing rose flowers picked from their gardens, pinning the stems into their buns. I recall a scene where we all went for a walk in the fields behind our house during an evening get together, and how all the mothers marched across the grass, their beautiful saris and the flowers in their hair creating a dazzling picture, painting the stark Yorkshire landscape with jewel- coloured brushstrokes. I was mesmerised, and absolutely know that it was during this time in my life that I found myself to have acquired a great affinity with roses, which to me symbolised all that is nurturing and loving and pure about women, and mothers. It also weirdly made me feel proud of these women, who with their husbands, were making a life in what seemed to be then a strange and seemingly grey country. They at once made every effort to embrace, fit in, and contribute to, their adopted home, England, and remained resolutely proud of their traditional clothes and customs. They unknowingly brought colour and vitality to the place they had chosen to settle in.
I find roses to be incredibly spiritual, and indeed they are used in India during temple worship, as offerings to the Gods. Roses remind me of the divinity that is omnipresent in the universe, and in all of us. Humans are drawn to Nature because we are part of it, and within its imperfect perfection, we find a sense of our own higher consciousness, and a deep spirituality. When we revel in plants and flowers, the trees, birds and insects, we find it difficult to feel anger or hostility towards others or ourselves, and instead find an inner calm that we are all searching for.
When my garden was re-done and borders were created where there had been none, I insisted on several roses, all highly scented. We already had a few climbing roses and a beautiful rose bush known as Cecile Brunner/Sweetheart Rose, which is a gorgeous pale pink/coral colour, but that was it. A few years on, the ones I chose for planting in the borders are thriving, and are all just so beautiful. Each bloom is different, but there are no ‘special’ ones for me, because I dislike comparing beauty. They are now established enough for me to be able to use them as cut flowers, which was one of my desires when I first had them planted.
Pure rose essential oil is contained in my body oils, along with the pure, exquisite oils of other wonderful plants and flowers. When I was creating the oils, I knew that rose would simply have to be featured. All that training during my childhood pastime of making rose petal perfume came flooding back to me as I mixed and tested different oils to come up with the perfect formula. Rose is love, it is purity, it is peace and serenity. The healing power of plants is widely known, and I love that my roses (they are mine alone, I feel) not only offer health benefits but also immense psychological benefits. In Ayurveda, rose is cooling and calming for Pitta Dosha, and is anti-inflammatory, antiaging and creates softness. It also symbolises love in all its forms.
Of course, it is also exquisitely feminine and sensual.
And my rose love goes on….