Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Rose , a Rose Garden at Korselitze

Korselitze manor lies at the eastern coast of the island Falster. Korselitze is a Wendic name - here was a Wendic settlement in the 1100s and king Valdemar Atterdag had a castle at this place in 1231. The present main building was built in 1775, and the surroundings is the rest of an English countrygarden, established for the landlord by the English brothers Mansa . It was one of the first romantic countrygardens in Denmark. The immigrated English gardener J.L Mansa is considered the pioneer of the English garden style in Denmark. He later became a gardener at Fredensborg Castle. There is still a rose garden at Korselitze.

There is something magic about roses , a combination of connecting the rose to both beauty and love. In Greek mythology the rose was connected to the gods and their world, first of all to the goddess of love Afrodite and her son Eros , later to Venus and Amor in the Roman empire.
The rose was according to legend created in a divine wonder. When the love goddess Afrodite emerged from the sea, the sea-foam framing her body turned into the rose. The gods at the Olympus spread nectare upon the roses to create the scent - this was their perfume.

Afrodite's lover Adonis was killed by the war god Ares, and from his body grew up dark red roses. The dark red rose was during centuries considered a symbol of the life-giving blood. The Greek poet Sappho (700 B.C.) mentions in a famous poem the rose as queen of flowers, a description still valid. There are many legends about how the various roses achieved their colour.

The word "sub rosa" means under the rose. It origins from ancient feasts, where the custom was to hang a rose above the guest as a sign of confidentiality, if the host would not have the conversation reported elsewhere. In the Danish castles Frederiksborg slot and in Chr. 7.'s palace at Amalienborg was a hall named "The Rose". The court had their meals here, and their conversations must not be spread. They were confident talks "sub rosa". The use of the rose as a symbol of silence origins from the world of the gods. When Afrodite's son Amor wanted his exploits to be secret, he gave a rose to the god of silence, Harpocrates.

One of the earliest written sources about roses was found during excavation of the kings' graves in Ur, a city by the river Eufrat. Inscriptions upon burnt clay tablets told about the king Sargon 1., who from a war expedition towards the north brought vines, figs and rose-trees back to his country. In China are roses mentioned in the emporial gardens in Peking back to year 2700 B.C. Between these two centers were wide lands of mountains and deserts - and thousand of years passed by, before the Chinese roses met the European. The Chinese roses were very different from the European, and the meeting had a decisive importance to the story of the rose.

The earliest known picture of a rose is from the palace Knossos on Crete. The rose is seen on the famous frescoe "The Blue Bird"from 1600 B.C. But there are not many informations about rose-cultivation in the ancient past here or from Europe. The Greek historian Herodot describes that the rich king Midas brought the rose with him from Asia minor ab. 700 B.C., when he went to Macedonia. The rose he brought, was a rose with ab. 60 petals, maybe a rosa gallica. In Greece the rose became an essential part of the culture in the years 800-700 B.C.

In the Roman empire was a comprehensive cultivation and use of roses, the cultivation itself started in middle Italy around Paestum, where many plant schools had an intensive rose-production, probably of the Damascene rose. The rose followed the ruling class through history and was part of their way of life and world of symbolism. The wealthy Romans had roses in their gardens, the rose became a symbol of victory and celebrated the soldiers with garlands, when they came back to Rome. In the Roman temples the rose was used in worship of the gods, and many gods were honored with garlands and festoons.

The rose was also used in medicine, it was a part of dishes and used in cosmetics. In feasts were large numbers of roses used. It went so far that corn and orchards had to be cleared and replaced with roses to satisfy the need; in emperor Nero's time it was common in the years 54-68 to let rose petals fall down on the guests at the feast banquets; the later emperor Heliogabalus (218-1122) let so many rose petals fall down on the his guests that some were choked! Roses were imported from Egypt, where the roses bloomed two months earlier than in Italy, it meant a sailing trip of 6 weeks, where the roses were kept in large clay pots filled with chalk. The Romans were later able to produce early roses themselves, since cultivation in glasshouses became a common thing in the year after the birth of Christ.

Contemporary to the Roman empire's golden age the Chinese culture was strongly developing, in special during the Chou-dynasty (from 1122 till 249 B.C.). The famous philosopher Konfutze (551-479B.C.) informs that in the Chinese emperor's library were 600 books about roses. At that point China was already able to produce rose-oil , but only the richest people in the realm were allowed to use it.

After Christianity arrived, the church had the cultural power, and the Roman church denounced the rose as a heathen flower, since it was connected to the wild life of the rich Romans and was considered a symbol of vice and non-chastity. Centuries passed, before this view changed, but at last the church restored the rose to favour. The symbolism became adjusted to the church, and Afrodite's holy flower became Virgin Mary's flower. The white rose became the symbol of the virgin's chastity and the red rose a symbol of Christ's blood. The rose-motif achieved its place in the church-rooms, like the window-rosettes in the cathedrals of Reims and Chartres in France. Pope Leo 9. founded "The Golden Rose" in 1049 as a distinction for princes and great men of the church. The Golden Rose was shaped as a rose-branch with golden leaves. Upon the leaves were inserted small diamonds alike dew-drops and perfumed flowers. The Danish king Christian I achieved i 1473 this fine distinction from the pope.

Gradually the church opened its gates for the rose - the rosary prayers were established in the Catholic church, roses were plant in the kloster-gardens, cultivated and used for medicine. The roses spread with Christianity all over Europe. Crusaders brought in the same period new and older rose sorts home from Palestine. It seems that the Damascene rose came to Europe from the Holy Land for the second time in 1270. France adopted the rose; centers for rose cultivation arose in the cities Rouen and Provins. The name Provins-roses, used for the rosa gallica officinalis origins from that time. The rosa gallica was used for rose water, perfumes and scented pillows of dried roses. The rose came to England already in the Roman period, but the largest spread was in the 1100s, where English crusaders came back from distant skies.

A famous feud arose in the 1400s, a throne feud between the two royal houses York and Lancaster. The War of the Roses lasted from 1460 and 30 years ahead. Both royal houses had the rose in their emblems, the house of York the white albarose and the house of Lancaster the red Damascene rose. When the war ended, it is told that a gardener named Mieilles contributed to the reconciliation by crossing the white and the red rose; the result being a red-white striped albarose "York and Lancaster".

Another rose was implicated in English politics in the late 1600s; the white albarose Maxima. In 1688 started a political movement which wanted the Catholic line of the royal house Stuart back in power. The background was that James 2. of England had to take flight to France. Those in favour of getting back the Stuarts were named the Jakobins. They had a characteristic mark, a blue headgear and an emblem with a white albarose, the Jakobin rose. They lasted ab. 100 years without any political luck, but they have survived in folk songs, poetry, tales and in the albarose.

Princes, aristocrats and rich merchants started a fashion of collecting roses in the 1500s. Rosaries were established, where the rose species could be studied. The rose was also used in paintings by i.e. Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Boticelli and Brueghel. Rubens was a passionate lover of roses and often painted well-fed persons surrounded by heavy roses. A deliberate rose-processing began in Holland in the 1500-1600s. The Dutch gardeners started with the centifolia-rose and developed a number of species. When the Baroque period made its entry in the 1700s, the rose-fancy declined. It was not a good thing to have unruly rose branches emerging from the fine box trees. But in the 1700s the English country gardens became highest fashion, and the queen of flowers came back to the gardens as free bushes or as climbing roses.

Napoleon's Josephine established shortly after her crowning a magnificent rose garden at the castle Malmaison west of Paris. She gathered and got the roses from her diplomatic connections with other European countries. It is told that zar Alexander 1. visited her at Malmaison to ensure her his support, and it was said that she gave the zar a rose branch saying "Une souvenir de la Malmaison". These words were later used to name a rose in the memory of Josephine, the Bourbon rose "Souvenir de la Malmaison". She also took connection to the great flower painter of that time Pierre-Joseph Redoüte (1759-1840). He painted on her request a large number of Malmaison's roses, and those fine watercolours still exist and are re-printed.

Source: Mette Østergaard, Politikens Store Bog om Roser, Udgivet i samarbejde med Det Danske Haveselskab.

photo Korselitze 2007: grethe bachmann

Historic roses from the garden at Boller Castle,
East Jutland

photo Boller Slot 2008: grethe bachmann


Wanda..... said...

I would never be able to choose my favorite rose...all the photos made me realize that, Grethe!

Teresa Evangeline said...

There's something about a rose.... It's as though I could smell each rose from here. Lovely photos. And,I have always found the political machinations of the Catholic church interesting.

Thyra said...

Wanda, I'm also completely unable to pick my favorite rose, but it has to be one with a wonderful scent.

Teresa, yes, I can see the fathers of the church sitting at meetings in southern Europe picking out the ancient gods , talking about "What can we do about this one, well Afrodite must be virgin May! Oh! Must she? But....... And up north they choose the goddess of love Freya, changing her into a virgin! All pagan gods and feasts were changed. Actually funny.

Joan said...

This was so interesting..Denmark looks to be a beautiful place. Isn't it funny how they christianised the old feasts etc. In NEw Zealand the feast days do not fit our seasons which is silly.

Thyra said...

Hej Joan, thank you. Yes, it must be a little confusing that your feast days do not fit the seasons. One of my old colleagues live in Australia and she says it is a little weird to eat a traditional Christmas dinner with roast pork etc. in the summer season.
Grethe ´)