Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. The story of St. Valentine, as far as I know, is not one of great joy but one that illustrates the belief in the sacredness of marriage within Christianity. To die as a punishment for upholding the sanctity of marriage is quite a story. We celebrate St Valentine now with cards, chocplate, and flowers. With dinner dates and romance. All lovely. In the apothecary I think the most romantic, healing, nurturing wonderful -ness is Rosa spp. in all her forms.

The rose would smell as sweet by any other name and indeed it is a personal favourite of mine. It’s smell can be incredible. Scent is an amazing thing in itself, causing all sort of chemical chain reactions in our bodies, evoking all kinds of memories and emotions.

Alnwick Rose
Alnwick Rose

We use the petal and their wonderful aroma in teas, tinctures, elixirs and syrups. The essential oils from the petals are also used in oils and creams. The hip is high in vitamin C and is used in syrups and oils.

It is a free food in its essence. We can pick hips and petals from the wild roses that dot the landscape.

In fact, it is not just us that enjoy roses. The deer ate every single bud and flower of my five plants a few years ago. They must have had a little party feasting on them quickly one night…. They are always covered now so that the deer have no chance.

I use rose a lot in my mixes for patients. Often with illness there is something emotional either instigating it, promoting it or resulting from it. Rose is always a good one to add as a supportive herb for the nervous system.

Traditionally used for grief, rose gently nudges us in the direction of wellness.

It is cooling, it is sweet, it is nourishing (packed with antioxidants) but we have to work for it – skirts and fingers often get torn in picking roses. They are not simply handing out the healing….

So, I make rose chocolates on Valentines and give them out. I drink rose tea with someone. It is a special and sacred time – just relaxing, sharing, contemplating with rose. If I’m really spoiling someone Rose elixir will be made – my favourite recipe is from Lis at Challick Wood Apothecary. It has all the sweetness and love one would want from a rose elixir.

Happy Valentine Day and enjoy your (organic, ethically sourced) rose.