Everything’s Coming Up Roses…

May 27, 2011 / Local Interest
Sant'Agata de' Goti, Campania
Sorry, but I’m a sucker for springtime. After forty-five years of city life in Rome, the last six in the country have been an enchanting encounter with the seasons and the discovery of the bounty that each one brings.

First it was the wisterias and now it’s the roses. Gertrude Stein’s “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” is constantly in mind as I move around the countryside. It seems to me there is a parallel between roses and humanity: so many different varieties, shapes and sizes, but roses all the same.

You find them wild and cultivated, obediently climbing trellises and cascading down walls; big small and in endless shades of red, pink, yellow and orange as well as pure white.

In the vineyards their blossoms act as an early warning system against the dreaded phylloxera, an insect that feeds on the roots and leaves of grapevines and that nearly destroyed all the vineyards in Europe in the late 19th century. Fortunately for wine-lovers, there’s only one thing these ghastly little aphids likes more than grape vines – and that’s roses. So farmers plant them amongst their vines and watch them closely, looking for any tell-tale signs of infestation in order that they can quickly take action on the grape vines themselves.

And this, the lovely rose does for free, simultaneously inspiring joy and admiration as well as bringing such incredible beauty into the world. Wouldn’t it be nice if humanity could do the same…

Barbara Goldfield

by Barbara Goldfield

Owner of “Savour The Sannio”, www.savourthesannio.com, a travel consultancy for central and southern Italy.

12 Responses to “Everything’s Coming Up Roses…”

  1. I think the roses in Italy are simply stupendous. I’ve seen them growing beautifully where they obviously haven’t been pruned, fertilized or watered (with a hose) in many years. It must be a combination of the soil, the wet springs but then dry, sunny summers and the cultivars which are well-suited to the above. But in any case, I’ve planted plenty since I’ve moved in and my neighbors are telling me to stop buying, they’ll supply me with cuttings at the right time and I can have even more, this time for free. I love roses (and generous neighbors)!

  2. I grew up disliking roses intensely! The reason was that our next-door neighbors loved them and planted them all along the border between our house and theirs. I used that border-way as a shortcut to get to the next street to my best friend’s house, and I remember getting scratched every time when I was in a particular hurry and didn’t have time to pick my way carefully along the path! I still don’t like the perfume of roses!
    However, I have often visited the Rosegarden on the Aventine in Rome, and now I can at least admire the glorious colors and blossoms of roses!

  3. Doris

    Thank you for the lovely presentation of the roses of Campania. My sweet Mother’s name was Rose and her name suited her perfectly…resilient, strong and beautiful! Grazie e ciao!

  4. Gian Banchero

    Now I know!!! For years I thought the rose plants around the vineyards in Italy were volunteers, the result of no human intervention; really interesting, thank you Barbara. My Sicilian grandparents had roses in their vegetable garden (amongst the vegetables) along with flowers of several types and many colors, I don’t know if this was for pest control or for aesthetics, but it sure was a grand visual to behold… Now I guess you can say that my Piemontese (northern) grandparents were more pragmatic in that the front of their house was the ONLY spot that hosted the plethora of flowers (unlike my Sicilian grandparents they had no liking for vines or anything they deemed unruly). Both sets of grandparents enjoyed roses, the northern half with beautifully pruned/tailored plants and the Sicilian side with explosive vine roses that scented the summer air wonderfully and brought in legions of bees, the sound of them in memory seemed almost deafening…. All of us who were raised with such visuals are unbelievably fortunato, si’?

  5. Evanne

    Hi Barbara. When we first purchased our property, we asked Giustino, an aging neighbor, to water our plants when we were not here. He could not understand why someone would water something they could not eat! He’s passed away, we live here full time now, and we have more than fifty roses, somewhat inspired by those roses in Rome in the Aventine rose garden. When aphids arrive, I spray them with a mixture of denatured alcohol, dish soap and water and repeat after every rain. If you can’t be in Italy, plant a big bright rose…and don’t forget to smell the roses, wherever you are…

  6. Evanne

    whoops!If you don’t like the smell of roses, think of the “smell the roses” figuratively. Life is like that.

  7. Virginia C. Mars

    Roses are beloved by many-and justly so. Covering a fence or climbing a wall, in a garden or just one cut bloom in a vase, they give joy, beauty and a lovely scent. My only complaint is that now so many of the varieties are void of that heavenly scent-designed only for looks. The old fashioned are still the most beautiful.


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