History

Another gem from our Cloister Garden

Museum of the Order of St John Judi McGinley, Museum Assistant

Alas! Autumn is fast upon us but fortunately our Cloister Garden is still looking blooming lovely (if you will excuse the pun)! Here are some beautiful images of roses from our garden, which as you can see is still chock full of blooms!

With well over 30,000 varieties, it would be fair to say that the rose is probably the world’s most favourite flower. This beautiful shrub has a long and colourful history, as it has been a symbol of love, war, politics and beauty. In fact, there is fossil evidence to suggest that the rose could be up to 35 million years old.

Roses have historically been renowned for their culinary, medicinal and cosmetic uses. It is believed that wild roses were used in the production of rosewater, scented oils and fragrances, long before 500 BC when they were first cultivated by the Chinese.  The Romans in particular cultivated vast quantities of rose flowers which they used to produce rosewater to fill their swimming baths and fountains, while rose petals were used to carpet the floors of their villas during feasts, and as confetti during important celebrations.

The rose flower played an important part in early modern medicine as it was used by 16th and 17th apothecaries to treat all manner of conditions, especially those involving the liver and the spleen. Roses were also a common feature during the Great Plague, as it was believed that small fragrant posies carried around in pockets were capable of warding off the deadly disease.

Today, roses still have numerous culinary, medicinal and cosmetic uses. Rosehip seed oil is full of vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids that are known to correct dark spots and hydrate dry and itchy skin, while rosewater features largely in many naturally prepared cosmetic products and is common feature of Middle Eastern cuisine.
ALT="White roses in our cloister garden"
© Judi McGinley
ALT="A rose from our cloister garden"
© Judi McGinley
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