It has been some weeks since I have had a chance to sit down and create a newsletter. It is one of my favorite activities but one needs to have time to do it and recently my attention has been engaged with taking care of the gardening business as well as many details of the expanding essential oil enterprise. I have also been waiting for something very special which has now arrived-the White Rose Absolute from Bulgaria. Many of you already know that I have a deep interest in direct sourcing of aromatic absolutes, essential oils, CO2 extracts, etc. I also enjoy getting directly involved with sponsoring special projects when feasible. Many things have to come into alignment for such an aromatic adventure to happen but when it does, it is a matter of endless delight both personally and for many of you who enjoy some of the out of the ordinary things which can arise from such projects.
My first venture in the direction of sponsoring projects came several years ago when the extraction of pink lotus blossoms for the concrete and absolute took place in South India. This was followed by the extraction of white lotus blossoms near Madurai and blue lotus blossoms near Maharastra. During this time I also became involved with directly sponsoring the distillation of traditional attars in North India as many of the old ways are in danger of being lost and I along with my fragrance mentor, Ramakant Harlalka felt that the only way we could maintain high standards based upon ancient perfumery traditions was to directly engage a respected distiller of Kannauj to make attars specially for us. Much has already been written on the subject and can be found on the web site.
The White Rose Project in Bulgarian was a natural progession from the projects that went before. In August of 2000 I began interacting with Vassil Loutchev who represented a respected distillery in Bulgaria and as our conversations evolved the thought came in my mind regarding doing a project with the much less known white rose, Rosa alba. Over the years I had encountered descriptions of the white rose of Bulgaria, its use as a hedging material for the pink rose, Rosa damascena, its hardy nature, its delicate sweet, rosacous honey odor, etc. Ernest Guenther also mentioned it in passing in his noble 6 volume work on essential oils. Through Vassil and his distilling associates I came to know that the white rose while nce widely grown in Bulgaria, was now considerably rarer and only one region of the Valley of the Roses had significant amounts of this rose of sublime beauty. One of the reasons it had lost favor was that compared to the pink rose the yield of essential oil and absolute was roughly half. This had earned it the name of the "dry" rose. And of course this made it a much more expensive material to produce and sell. This only peaked my interest further. I had already been through the experience of sponsoring projects with the lotus which were also very expensive from the production side of things as well as having to create a market for them once extracted so I did not feel daunted by the prospect of supporting a project concerning the white rose. The very name "white rose" resonated deep in my heart as did everything to do with the lotus so I asked him if he would be willing to get the project rolling. He kindly agreed.(People like Vassil are a true treasure in the aromatic world. They have insight and knowledge into the possibilities within the country and can practially arrange such things. Without his help and the cooperation of farmers and the extractors this project could not have fructified).
One of the first things that needed to be done was to work with the farmers growing white rose to assure we would have enough white roses for t he following year(2001) extraction. A nice sum of money needed to be advanced to them to secure the contract for enough Rosa alba blossoms for the following year to make 5 kilos of absolute. Here we are are talking of roses in terms of many thousands of kilos. For those of you who have carefully harvested roses from your own garden for potpourri or rose water it is apparent that the human endeavor that is required for such operations defies the imagination because every single rose has to be hand plucked.But by good fortune, the man in charge of the distillery was able to travel to the area
where the white roses thrive, and procure the contract for the 2001 harvest. The result is that by this co-ordinated effort the 1st kilo of White Rose Absolute has been converted from concrete to absolute and during the remainder of this year and over the course of the next few months I will have the remaining 4 kilos of absolute prepared.
In a future newsletter I will try to outline in a general sense what are the steps in bringing such a project into manifestation because I firmly believe that what has come into being through the several projects I have been directly involved in can be done by many others if the enthusiasm and practical dedication is there. I stongly feel that many many incredible distillations and extractions are yet to be done both in the areas where one may be personally living and in other parts of the world. It is a meeting of the ideal and the practical because one must not only have the dream but must also be willing to commit themselves financially to bringing their aspirations into manifestation. OK. Here is a bit of information I could discover about the White Rose. I think there is much much more to be uncovered but I wanted to get a bit of information out there so you might come to know a bit about this rose, its history, symbolism and aroma. The opening quotation concerning roses in general is priceless.
Flowers are the messengers of our most sacred feelings. They have a language of their own. As gifts they are capable of expressing all shades of feelings and passions. The rose is especially noted, as it is the archetypal flower. The rose has endured as metaphor through the ages, surviving a partial death for at least eleven centuries in the West. The decline can be attributed to the difficulty and ambivalence of applying its meaning to new religious beliefs, primarily Christianity. Eventually the rose ended up as a predominant symbol of Christianity, and the Virgin herself became known as La Rosa Mystica or the Mystic Rose. The rose has deep meanings that cannot be destroyed they can simply be redirected. The rose encompasses a magnificent territory that must be experienced first hand. Consequently, when we attempt to construct a map of the territory we leave much of it uncharted. The rose transcends a specific meaning to a given culture and a given time. The rose has been prized for thousands of years throughout a wide range of cultures, and has come to symbolize many different things. We can search for
its meanings through mythology, religion, art and literature. Cirlot stated that the meaning of roses can be attributed to the number of petals and the colors, to this I would like to add fragrance. Our sense of smell is one of our deepest senses. Fragrance is the secret substance that embodies the true nature of the rose. Sartre once described the spiritual essence of scent as, "A vaporized body which has remained completely itself but which has become a volatile spirit." David Austin has said that scent is the "soul of the rose". It is something that we can not hold in our hands, which is always shifting and changing. Jack Goody states that applying meanings to flowers came from the East. Meaning can be highly subjective but some thoughts are universally accepted.
Rosa alba description
White Rose ,Rosa alba Semi-Plena is a rose of great, though simple, beauty. Each flower is a 3 in. bowl of silky, pure white petals which open wide to reveal a boss of golden stamens. There is a sweet and penetrating scent of outstanding quality, and it is no surprise that Alba Semi-Plena is gown in Bulgaria to this day to produce extracts for perfume. Much of this rose's charm lies in its foliage and general bearing as a garden shrub. Alba Semi-Plena will form a gently arching, vase-shaped plant 7 or 8 ft. in height and approximately 5 to 6 ft. in spread.
Its graceful, pale green canes are clothed in soft blue-green foliage, which make an ideal backdrop for the elegantly poised flowers. Alba Semi-Plena is a robust and resilient rose, generally free of disease and able to tolerate extremes of cold and neglect that would devastate other varieties. It makes a fine candidate for use at the back of the mixed border, or in open woodland settings,especially along north-facing walls, where few roses are likely to thrive.
History ROSES AND LILIES (Information is provided for cultural interest, not as a recommendation for treatment of disease)
An old tradition states that the Romans named the most north-western target of their imperialism Albion because of the white roses found growing in Britannia, but it is not in fact certain whether the Rosa alba was present when the Romans arrived or if they imported it. In any case, throughout the Medieval period the white rose was available as an English garden favourite. Eleanor of Provence, who became the wife of Henry III in 1236, used a white rose as her emblem, and her son Edward I (reigned 1272-1307) took as an emblem a rose with almost gold-coloured petals and a green stem. Edmund, Earl of Lancaster (died 1296), a younger son of Eleanor and Henry, adopted a red rose, the Rosa gallica, following his marriage to Blanche of Artois (died 1302), granddaughter of Louis VIII of France, whose emblem it was; and thus the red rose became the emblem of the house of Lancaster.
Red roses, like white, were to be found in England throughout the Medieval period,and were no new introduction at the time of the marriage of of Blanche of Artois and Edmund "Crouchback" in 1275. Richard, Duke of York (died 1460), used the white rose as a favourite badge, and it was taken up by his favorite son Edward IV (reigned 1461-83). The red rose was evidently not used as a badge by the Lancastrian king, Henry VI (reigned 1422-61), who was supplanted by his kinsman Edward IV. The catchy title "Wars of the Roses," for the intermittent civil and dynastic conflict of the 1450's to the 1480's between the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York, was not invented until the eighteenth century,but the idea went back at least to the "Crowland Chronicle," which was completed in the 1480's, and the two roses as symbols of the rival dynastieswas given a wider audience in the Temple Garden scene in Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part I, Act II, scene iv. The first Tudor king, Henry VII (reigned 1485-1509), employed the propaganda symbol of a combined red and white rose to represent himself as unifier of the warring factions of Lancaster and York. The Tudor rose remains a very familiar symbolic flower.
The third rose generally cultivated in late medieval England, along with the red and white, was the damask rose. It willprobably never be known if the pink rose of Damascus was brought to England by merchants, monks, pilgrims, or crusaders. Along with cultivated roses mention must be made of the native wild rose, the Rosa rubiginosa, known also as the sweet briar or eglantine, which has a lovely smell, is a good climber for walls and fences, and was used in the making of mead and various medicines. Actually, Medieval cultivated roses would look fairly wild to the modern eye, accustomed as it is to the products of scientific breeders.
The flowers of Medieval cultivated roses were smaller, more open, and more fragile than today's roses, and they were more delicate of fragrance. The Medieval rose plants were more like rambling bushes than modern roses, and the thorns were longer and more plentiful, an even more noticeable presence. It was when the rose petals were dried and powdered that they had the most powerful fragrance,and it was usually the petals of the red rose that were used in the making of rose water, rose oil, rose preserves, petal garnishes, and rose sugar. It was the custom to employ roses as symbols of the Holy Spirit, and to scatter them in churches for this reason. The practice was associated with festivals when roses would have been in bloom, such as that of John the Baptist(24 June), St. Peter (29 June), and the moveable feasts of Whitsun and Corpus Christi (which fell in May or June).
The lily ranked with the rose as a special flower, and to the Medieval mind roses and lilies were the devotional flowers without rival. The lily was associated with the Virgin Mary. The Venerable Bede (died 735), the glory of Northumbrian monastic culture, knew the Madonna lily as an emblem of the Virgin Mary, the white petals representing her bodily purity and the golden anthers the light of her soul. The lily was an ancient fertility symbol, and it suited the Mother of God. An association of the Virgin Mary with The Song of Songs also suggested itself to many Medieval minds: "I am the Rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys." The Biblical Rose of Sharon may have been the crocus or the narcissus, and the lilyof the valleys could have been the Palestine anemone, but that is of no importance for Medieval symbolism. The lily represented purity, innocent beauty, and chastity, a neat parallel for the virgin birth of Christ. It is worth recalling as well, that the central image of The Song of Songs is that of a garden. This means that the example of sensual literature most widely known to Medieval people was centered upon a garden. -
Pleasures and Pastimes in Medieval England. Compton Reeves. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
"As is so often the case with roses, the precise origin of the Alba group is much debated; possibly R. canina x R. damascena, or R. corymbifera x R. gallica, or . . . ? Albas typically make large, healthy shrubs with fragrant white or light pink blossoms, usually in few-flowered clusters. They have particular associations with the Middle Ages and castle gardens. 'Great Maiden's Blush', `Semiplena', `Jeanne d'Arc', `Konigin von Danemark', `Pompon Blanc Parfait'." - Brent C. Dickerson email@example.com, author, "The Old Rose Advisor" The Albas, one of the major groups of ancient roses, is another Gallica hybrid, possibly crossed centuries ago with a Damask. The Romans brought Alba roses to Britain. The delicate pale pink,
blush and white Albas, with their bluish-green leaves, are probably the most cold hardy of the Old Garden Roses. They thrive under the most adverse conditions, are quite shade tolerant, very disease resistant and easy to grow. Albas are hardy shrubs with exceptional form in habit and flower. All these features not withstanding, only a limited variety of Albas are offered commercially. They bloom once a year in spring. Flowers tend to be white or a variation thereof. The blooms have a delicate appearance, and sit well on a durable, tough plant. Fragrance is normally excellent, and foliage is a gray-green tint which complements the softness of the flowers and contrasts nicely with darker evergreens. Albas tend to be larger shrubs, many growing six feet tall and wide or more.
http://www.rkdn.org/roses/Classes.asp?ID=(12) Images http://www.country-lane.com/yr/plena.htm
Stories Legends and Myths Connected with White Rose
nightingale and the rose by Oscar Wilde
Cherokee White Rose
legend of the Cherokee Rose
White Rose Symbolism
The white rose is linked with the Virgin Mary (who is the Mystical Rose of Heaven, the rose without thorns) and was a medieval symbol of viginity. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Troy/4696/rose.html
LOYALTY, PENETRATING AND PLATONIC LOVE. ABLE TO CAPTIVATE SECRET THOUGHT, LOVE STRONGERTHAN DEATH. IN ENGLAND THERE IS A SAYING ABOUT THE WHITE ROSE REFERRING TO THE SUB ROSA, "DEATH TO HIM WHO UNDER MY SECRECY BETRAYS HIS OATH." IN SCOTLAND WHEN THE WHITE ROSE BLOOMED IN AUTUMN IT WAS SEEN AS A TOKEN OF EARLY MARRIAGE. THE ROSE OF CONFESSION, THE BRIDAL ROSE, THE ROSE OF
SERVITUDE. CAN BE OTHERWORLDLY.
White Rose Absolute
Physical and Olfactory Properties-
Physical-Lovely transparent golden hued slightly viscous oil
Olfactory-soft, warm radiant honey-sweet roseaceous bouquet. Very smooth, clear and well rounded. Enfolded within this elegant harmonius chord is a hint of a green note which speaks of the white rose blossom nestled amidst the surrounding foliage. The top and heart notes blend seamlessly with each other with the roseaceous notes coming a bit more to the forefront as the drydown unfolds. The radiance of this absolute is not overt. It quietly grows in the environment in which it is revealed filling the heart with a quiet sweetness and joy.