The origins of Valentine’s Day and why red roses?

As with most celebrations that have existed for centuries there are many versions of how they came into being, some derived from history and some from myth and legend.

The first Valentine’s Day was in the year 496, so marking the day itself is a very old tradition.  It is thought to have originated from a Roman festival, called Lupercalia in the middle of February – officially marking the start of springtime.

In ancient Rome, there were at least three Christian martyrs were named Valentine, who were believed to have been executed for various reasons.

However, one of the Valentines, a Christian bishop, was believed to have been executed on February 14 because he defied the Emperor Claudius II by secretly performing marriages ceremonies for Roman soldiers. Claudius II had prevented soldiers from marrying because he thought they should only love Rome.

Legends about St Valentine as a heroic and romantic figure first emerged during the Middle Ages in England and France.

Some historians assert that the first person to associate St Valentine with romantic love was the poet Chaucer. In 1381 the English King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia were betrothed and Chaucer composed a poem in honour of the engagement.

Flowers have had symbolic meanings for centuries and the colour of traditional red roses represents passion.

The red rose first emerged in Greek and Roman iconography, where it was tied to Aphrodite, or Venus, the goddess of love. In Greek mythology, it is said that rose bushes grew from the ground through Aphrodite’s tears and the blood of her lover, Adonis.

Later, in early Christian times it became associated with the virtue of Virgin Mary.

The tradition of giving Valentine’s Day flowers dates back to the late 17th century, during the reign of King Charles II of Sweden. During a trip to Persia, King Charles II was exposed to a new art—the language of flowers.

Caring for your Roses – jobs for February

February is the time to continue planting, weather permitting, and if February is mild then you can start pruning established bush roses from around the middle of the month.

However, we do recommend pruning repeat flowering courtyard, and patio climbers. Also Speciality Standards and ground cover roses.   Any newly-planted roses should be left to around the third week in March.

Pruning for established roses:

All BUSH ROSES (Hybrid Tea, Floribunda and “Patio”) Standard, Half Standard and Patio Standard roses should be pruned in two stages.

The winter pruning should have been done December or at the latest early January.  The main pruning should take out any diseased wood from the centre of the plant and stems which rub against each other.   The aim here is to open out the centre of the plant.  Then cut all remaining shoots back to 2 to 3 eyes of the previous year’s growth   The eye should be outward facing. However if you cannot see an eye still cut them back as there will be eyes in the bark

REPEAT FLOWERING CLIMBERS, COURTYARD AND “PATIO” CLIMBERS: Little pruning will be needed in the first few years.  As they become established prune these in February, removing weak shoots, and cut back rod-like growth, and flowered stems. Endeavour to take out some older shoots from the base of the plant.

SPECIALITY STANDARDS: These should be pruned in February by taking out some of the old weak growth and cutting back the remaining shoots.

GROUND COVER ROSES. Only light pruning is required in February. Tip back shoots and take out any dead and weak wood.

If you are interested we may still have a few spaces at our free pruning demonstrations held towards the end of February. Phone us on 01206 844008

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