“A rose is a rose is a rose” may have been true for Gertrude Stein, but it certainly is not true at the Butterfield Cottage. Popular opinion, hands down, declares our gate-flanking Rugosa roses the favorites. Their wonderful fragrance and double crimson blossoms welcome all visitors to the cottage. This particular Rosa rugosa is Hansa. It blooms freely all summer and in the autumn, is covered with large round red-orange hips.
Rose hips have as much as twenty times the vitamin C of orange juice. It’s no wonder the pioneer families made rose hip tea. It is made by chopping up the entire rose hips, covering with water and boiling for 30 minutes, then straining. Most recipes suggest adding a bit of honey to the tea.
The thick leathery leaves are disease resistant and tolerant of salt winds so it is an ideal coastal rose. Its biggest fault is that it loves to spread out and will send up suckers wherever it can, often in the lawn.
Along the far picket fence, we have two additional Rugosa roses, another Hansa and a white Alba, both of which have crept under the fence and continue to expand on the rocks.
A few years ago when I was doing some research on heirloom roses, I came upon a limerick written by Edward Lear (1812 – 1888) which seems so appropriate to our Rugosas that I would like to share it with you:
“And this is certain; if so be
You could just now my garden see
The aspic of my flowers so bright
Would make you shudder with delight.
And if you voz to see my roziz
As is a boon to all men’s noziz-
You’d fall upon your back and scream-
‘O Lawk! O cricky! It’s a dream!’”